A short Vlog discussing Awakening Fast 2013.
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Grace has always been an astonishing notion to me. There was a time in my life that I was really searching for truth in religion. I was raised in the church, I was raised “Christian”, but I was still searching. I studied every religion I could find, and I came to the realization that they were almost all missing “grace”.
What is so special about grace that makes it so elusive in religion?
Grace is something that is somewhat foreign to humanity. It isn’t natural to our actions, reactions, thoughts, views, or behaviors. It is a glimpse into something beyond the walls of this decaying world. It is something that we have to fight for and struggle with. It is bigger than us. It is not as much a cause as it is an effect. We don’t show grace naturally because it is fueled by a love that is empty of self-gratification. That is a hard thing for a depraved society to grasp. Grace cannot be created or imagined. This is because it is not within the realm of the human imagination. It can only be dispensated from God who transcends culture, religion, and humanity.
I don’t believe the definition of grace is too hard to understand. I believe the application and relevance of grace within our own personal life is what is hard for most people to embrace. How do you accept something that is outside of the scope of human existence without struggle? Grace isn’t easy. If we can’t fabricate it within our own logic and reason then it places us in a state of tension, an unresolved point of relation. How can this be true? How could God love me? How could He have given me this gift? We then compare God’s ability to hand us “freely given, unmerited favor and love” with our ability to do the same. This comparison leaves us in a place of disbelief. “There is no way that He loves me this way!” “Salvation can’t be that easy.”
If this is the case, then how can this situation be resolved? The answer is FAITH! Ephesians 2:8 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God”. This is where that tension must end. We must believe that God will give freely, love unconditionally, and give unmerited favor and love. We must trust and believe that He will do what He says he will do even if we don’t feel like it. This is faith.
In the end, grace is bigger than the religion, philosophy, reason, and logic that we try to use to define it. It is bigger than us. It is the result of a love that we cannot be separated from. It is the bridge that connects a sovereign, providential, personal God with those He loves. Stop trying to earn what has already been given. Just believe!
It seems that my generation thinks they can busy work themselves into heaven. Don’t get me wrong, action speaks louder than words. I know that. I believe that, and I practice that in my own life. I come from a family that has always been involved in working for the Lord. I left a very comfortable paycheck and house to plant a church. I have been a bi-vocational pastor for over two years now, so hectic living is not foreign to me.
I am not talking about hard work, and follow through. I am talking about busy ministry that is occupying us without real results. The problem with that kind of ministry is that it lures us into a false sense of accomplishment. Because we are busy, and have something to show for it, we feel good about it. This is a very dangerous state of mind. The work of the Kingdom is not as much about “doing”, as it is about “being”. Action without substance is just noise. If our “doing” does not come from our “being’ then it is just something to fortify this ADD Christianity that we have created. I am a believer in balance and consistency. I believe that our lives should mimic the one that we are doing all of this for. Jesus did not just walk around touching lives because He felt that He was supposed to be. He acted out of love.
I want to live a life that is grounded in love, and driven to action. Intentional action, with relevant results that honors God, inspires others, and edifies me. I do not want to “grow weary in well doing”, or lose sight of the reasons why I do what I do. I do not want to put my focus on the amount of ministry, but the eternal impact that it is making.
Lord, help us remember that the greatest gift we have at our disposal is LIFE. Let us not fill it up with noise and unintentional action. Let our words and deeds be rooted in love, balanced in stewardship, and fueled by passion. Let us be productive for your Kingdom. But more than anything, may we “live, move, and find our being” in you!
Water is not very controversial. No one debates it’s importance for life on this big blue ball we all live on. In fact, when 70.8% of the Earth is covered with water it is easy to take it for granted. I wonder if most kids these days even know that water comes from some place other than a bottle. Despite it’s comfortable seat in the midst of our culture and society, water has had a sorted past when it come to spirituality. Even within the text of the Bible water has carried different meanings, in and of itself, as well as, they way humanity relates to it. In Matthew 27:24, Pilate washed his hands in a basin of water as he removed himself from the decision making process of what would happen to Jesus. His unwillingness to act made him as guilty as the mobs that put Jesus on the cross. He committed indirect murder because of his selfish act deflection. We can see the antithesis of Pilate’s actions in another basin of water, as Jesus washed the feet of his disciples. In John 13 we see a selfless act of love as Jesus humbled himself before those that followed him. He not only served those around them, but he also challenged them to follow his example of servant hood and humility. What an awesome picture of grace and responsibility.I believe that we all stand at a basin of water every day. We have the choice to serve others or ourselves. One decision follows the example of the of a man that gave himself for those he loved. The other decision follows our human nature that is founded in selfishness and self preservation. Could what we do with our hands change a life or take one? Do we engage in indirect murder when we choose to not act. Pilate found solace in the fact that he did not pull the trigger, and we are not much different. I believe that in this day and age we must stand up and choose selflessness over selfishness. We must make a choice and act, instead of doing nothing. Love: Serve: Change
John 13:12-15When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.
How did we get here? Where are we headed? I am torn between my patriotism and my
faith. In America, we have always been able to let the two intertwine, but that is getting
harder to do. I find myself in a position that I have never been in before. I am not proud
of where we are as a nation. I believe that we are still the best county in the world, but
just because we are at the top does not mean we are right. Where do we draw the line
between support of those above, and our own personal convictions. My father taught
my brothers and I that you are to respect those over you, to always give others the
benefit of the doubt, and to treat others as you want to be treated. I donʼt see that in our
country any more. We fight wars only when we have something at stake, we donʼt fight
when we donʼt have anything to gain, and we no longer put our people above our
institution. When corruption, greed, deception, and hypocrisy are the dominant
attributes of our modern political atmosphere, how can we go on like nothing is
happening. I still get chills at the sight of the stars and stripes. I still have to fight back
tears when I hear the national anthem, but is it pride in our current state or fond
memories of a dying ideal. I think I am moved because of what America has always
stood for. The problem is that we used to stand for something that is no longer woven
into the fabric of our nation.
My faith is at the center of everything I do. It saturates ever aspect of my life.
Because I believe that my life is the manifestation of my heart, I must apply the precepts
of scripture to my decisions and actions. The way I think, speak, act, pray, and fight
must echo the values that I have gained from that faith. I must think in purity, speak in
wisdom, act in love, pray for mercy, and fight for justice. If I apply these values to my
life, then should I not also expect the same from a nation that was build on the same
principles? I am not ignorant to think that our country will continue to support Judeo-
Christian morals and ethics, but at least have some. No matter what your religious
views, honesty, truth, hard work, mercy, and love is probably part of the core values of
your faith. Even those that do not give themselves over to a religious point of view
understand the characteristics of morals and ethics. There is an understanding of right
and wrong that is innate in all of us. Our leaders know what to do, but their focus has
been dulled by institutional corruption fueled by person greed.
Where has leadership gone? At some point our leadership stopped being “for the
people”, and became like the people. In my understanding of leadership, any leader
must guide his or her followers to a goal by example and standard. Our leaders should
listen to the voice of the people and then make decisions based on wisdom, common
sense, and conviction. I do not choose those over me because they share all my views.
I choose them because they will challenge me to be better. Maybe that is the problem,
we do not want to be better, just comfortable.
Father, I thank you that I am blessed to live in the greatest country in the world. I pray
that as we continue on down the road of time that you will give your children the wisdom
and strength to know where to stand, when to make peace, and when to fight. Let your
Kingdom come, and may you always bless America.
As a kid, every emotion was felt on a daily basis. We were moved in some way all the time. Laughter, anger, joy, wonder, fear, excitement, and sadness were part of our day. Why is it that as we get older we lose the ability to be moved? In the attempt to become stable we lose the access to truly living life. In the midst of this world so full of stimuli I find myself on overload. There are so many things going on around us that we become numb to the things that matter. We are not moved anymore! We keep our emotions in check, and our hearts in a box. This is a lose/lose situation. We lose, our families lose, the world around us loses, and God loses. We are not capable of the wonder that once filled our lives. I see wonder as something that is multi-layered. It is full of intrigue and fear, joy and sadness, desire and hesitation. God created us to experience life and do it through Him. I feel that the greatest form of worship is wonder! Being blown away by God. God can be found all around us, and yet we are blinded by our own inability to feel. When I was a kid, I loved trees. I was not happy to just look at them, I wanted to climb them. I knew I would get dirty, and maybe a little hurt, but I did not care because of my wonder. Sometimes the climb was hard, but the view was worth it. I was full of wonder because of the tree, and the view from the tree. Wonder does not come from just experiencing life from our view. we have to see it from outside of ourselves. We have always given my Mom a hard time because of her love of history. We used to go to a place in the mountains called Cade’s Cove. While we were throwing stuff at each other, and finding things to get into, my Mom was imagining what it was like to live in one of the old cabins. She loved the span of emotions that she found as she dreamed of that far away time. I think we treat both life and God like a beautiful tree or an old cabin. It is easier to just look at them and not get emotionally involved. This is why we find ourselves searching so much. We need to feel. We need to cry. We need to laugh. We need to wonder! Love even if it hurts. Laugh even though there is pain. Cry even if people are there. Question even if you are scared of the answer. God did not call us to a life of numb wandering, but a journey of emotion, beauty, and wonder! I think it is about time that I go climb a tree again.
P.S. Mom…..Thanks for the lesson, even though you are sappy about all that stuff.