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.
Someone asked if it is God’s will when evil happens.
I suspect it is God’s will that we have the right to reject Him and choose evil, because He wants us to have the related ability to freely choose the love, grace and rule He offers us.
I also suspect that He grieves with us at what some have done with those choices.
~ Jim Wright
Is it any wonder that a generation raised to believe it’s all about them has a hard time grasping that it’s all about God?
They are easy prey for those peddling God’s amazing grace, love and acceptance, while rejecting repentance, truth and change.
The greatest deceptions, however, involve half truths.
Unfortunately, there’s just too much of this going around these days, and it’s terminal when it comes to healthy believers and healthy ekklesia.
Grace is the means – God extends undeserved mercy, forgiveness and truth.
Repentance is the result – I accept, submit and change.
Among our fellowships, we keep it real.
We have to. We have no choice.
Continually, people are coming to the Lord through us from places of deep bondage and despair.
This old-world clematis goes back at least three generations in my family.
It originally grew in my grandmother’s yard in Maryland, then was transplanted to my parent’s home when I was a young man, and finally came with me to Virginia when I moved here with my own family many years ago.
In all, I figure it has been cared for by a Wright, in one place or another, at least sixty years.
Tim Day, a fellow elder here in Virginia, is co-teaching a Biblical Foundations discipleship class with Sheri Warren and me on Sunday evenings.
That class pulls together folks from indigenous, participatory fellowships that are relating together in our county. Through it, the three of us – with help from other local elders – are helping to lay a foundation of sound doctrine in those churches through their emerging leaders.
Over the last few weeks we have focused on spiritual gifts, and the importance of everyone being able to encourage and minister to one another in our local fellowships as we each use the gifts God gives us for our mutual benefit.
Christians seek God’s forgiveness – not to remove some block in His heart, but to release a block in our heart.
Facebook seems to be a hot bed for the new distorted view of “grace”.
The other day someone posted that through grace, God finds our sin acceptable. He thus no longer “deals” with sin in our lives – and we are free of sin – because it no long exists.
According to their “logic”, sin ceases to an issue in our lives because it ceases to be considered sin by God.
That neat theological sleight of hand was followed by lots of “likes” and “amens”.
To deny the reality of sin and its bondage – and to say God doesn’t deal with sin in our lives or that we are free of sin – is an abuse of grace.
A rap/poem by a brother in fellowship in the local jail, who is learning to become the man God created him to be.
When I reached out
You took me in
When there wasn’t a soul in sight
And all I saw was you
You took me in
Dusted me off
Cleaned me up
Asked me if I’d yet had enough?
Knew about my past
Had been there through the struggles
Said you’d carry my burdens
If I’d give you my troubles
I grabbed to my shirt
Expressed a cold smirk
Yeah I’d heard that before
Seems never to work
I often have people send me links to articles and blogs, and here are several that deal with different aspects of sexuality in the Church.
Being Gay at Jerry Falwell’s University, by Brandon Ambrosino
A very candid personal story of a man who struggled over his homosexuality, yet found friendship as the Christian community at a leading conservative university expressed love and grace while remaining faithful to their Biblical convictions.
You Cannot Heal What You Cannot Talk About, by Survivor Girl
Survivor Girl is a frequent commenter here, and this is her very personal story about sexual predation in the church. Please, read this. When a leader uses his position and spiritual gifts to prey on women in the church, it is not an affair, it is sexual abuse. This article will help you understand how sexual predators groom their victims, and also provides links to good resources for dealing with these issues.
Predators in the Pulpit, by Susan McKenzie
Another first person account of sexual predation and grooming in our churches. This too provides good background on how this happens, so we can be on guard and protect others.
Sexual Sin is a Corporate Affair, by Harry Schaumburg
“When we take the gospel seriously we not only correctly understand the nature of sexual immorality, we must become proactive in taking corporate responsibility for the sexual maturity and sexual problems within our local church.”
The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Gal 5:22-23 NIV
Self-control is the last fruit of the spirit. In life no one wants to be last. Somehow last implies that you don’t measure up, didn’t try hard enough or couldn’t quite do it. However, I don’t think being at the end of the list of fruit puts self-control in that same category.
I think self-control is like the parenthesis in math. For example, with (3+2) x (8+2) the math inside the parenthesis has to be completed first. You would get a totally different answer if the parentheses were missing from the equation.
In a sense love and self-control are like the parenthesis. They help group the other fruit. 1 Corinthians 13, the front parenthesis, reminds us that without love we can do nothing. Self-control comprises the back parenthesis.
Yesterday, as some folks in our fellowship prayed for me, I had one of those rare times when I heard the Lord very directly speak to my inner man.
He said I had laid up many treasures in heaven from a life spend serving Him and His people.
He let me know I could begin a new season of life, in transition toward my life to come, with the settled peace of His pleasure and honor.
Then He asked, however, if I was willing to spend those treasures, over whatever remaining time He chooses to give me, by investing them in others?
The low view of God in the Old Testament, found among those touting a so-called “Christocentric hermeneutic”, comes from too high a view of themselves.
They often take personal offense at how God dealt with humanity in the Old Testament – including His sometimes fierce display of holiness and punishment of sin and rebellion.
So they make God in the Old Testament an aberration. They substitute their own perceptions of Christ – rooted in their post-modern sensibilities – for the totality of scripture, and make their resulting “Christology” higher revelation than God’s own external Word of scripture.
They have joined Adam and Eve in choosing the moral autonomy of deciding for themselves what is right and wrong, and have the further hubris of then imposing it on God Himself.
Nearly a year has passed since I’ve been with the very first fellowship I helped start here in Virginia. I’ve missed them dearly.
Last night I got to be with them, share some stories of their beginnings, and convey a sense of God’s special pleasure and love towards them.
We all laughed and listened and talked – and there was life.
Confronting the Error of Hyper-Grace, by Michael Brown:
“The biblical message of grace is wonderful, glorious and life-transforming. We can’t live without it for one second of our lives. But there is a message being preached today in the name of a new grace reformation, mixing powerful truth with dangerous error. I call it hyper-grace…”
The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness…Gal 5:22 NIV
Kindness is extending God’s grace to an often unpleasant situation. Many times the easier road to follow is one of impatience, sarcasm, criticism or being judgmental.
For myself, I often need to stop and make the choice to respond with kindness.