“Cheap” Grace?

“Cheap” Grace?

small crossHave you ever heard the phrase “Cheap Grace?”

It’s meant to describe a sinner’s attitude toward God’s forgiveness when that sinner continues to sin – when that sinner chooses to continue to sin and knows he/she is doing so. Recently, I had a revelation about “cheap Grace.”

There’s no such thing.

pexels-photo-811103.jpeg
First, Grace is most definitely not and can never be cheap. This is simply because of the price Christ paid for it. He gave everything he had – and more – in order to give Grace to me.

Second, that price has already been paid. And this is the important thing – the revelation: nothing I ever do or don’t do can ever change that. Whether I know I’m sinning or not doesn’t matter. Grace remains paid for and given.

IMG_3346Third, perfection on my part is not possible, and won’t be until Jesus “returns or calls me home.” IOW, I’m going to fall again and again in this life, sooner or later. The important thing is whether or not I get back up and try again, knowing that He died for me and that I can stand in His strength.

Fourth, regarding trying again, I will never stop reaching out to grasp the hand being held out to me. I simply can’t. Another way to look at this is in the idea that I can never “unknow” Grace. It’s like seeing something. I can never unsee it.

pexels-photo-267559.jpegSure, I can doubt. My faith can waver. But there will always be that thread connecting me to Him. I won’t ever be free of it. (This is actually a comforting thought.)

Fifth, cheap Grace requires that I think something I do or don’t do effects my condition in God’s eyes. This is the same thing as saying that I can earn or deserve it.

I know I can never earn, will never deserve, nor ever afford Grace. It is a gift. It’s freely offered, no strings attached.

And it’s that knowledge that empowers me to keep working on changing my heart and my behaviors.IMG_3218

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When You Highlight and Delete

When You Highlight and Delete

Wednesday, April 4, 2018 – 03:33

Father God, Creator of all things, Thank You for this day – this brand new day of life in Your wondrous creation. Thank You for Your Grace, which wipes my page clean – like I just did in this digital document; highlighting text and pressing ‘delete.’

Now, I remember what was written here, but You see only blank space, full of potential and ready for brand new thoughts. So what I’ve done in the past is gone, and today I can make a fresh start.

pexels-photo-205316.pngLOL, that’s way easier said than done! I dwell too much on not having been able to be perfect on the first attempt.

pexels-photo-45718.jpegBut Thank You for this gift of… imagination? It allows me to picture similies and metaphors and analogies for my life’s events and feelings, and place them here for others to experience, too.

I have hopes that some readers will come to know more about You (and me!) from reading this.

I wish I could know who and how.pexels-photo-972513.jpeg

But isn’t that the thing? My job – our job is to do without any expectation of seeing results. It’s like a player shooting or throwing or kicking the ball (or puck) while falling, and not getting to see where it goes.

Psalm 37 GW
:3 Trust the Lord, and do good things.
Live in the land, and practice being faithful.
:4 Be happy with the Lord,
and He will give you the desires of your heart.
:5 Entrust your ways to the Lord.
Trust Him, and He will act on your behalf.

:18 (CEV) Those who obey the Lord are daily in His care,
and what He has given them will be theirs forever.

copic-marker-pen-blue-65216.jpegThat’s really what life is all about. We’re writing (typing, these days) God’s story in our lives. When we enter some words that aren’t right, He makes it possible to highlight and delete them.

We need to be able to carry on with what is and not get stuck on what was. No matter what it was.

I think a lot of the time there’s confusion between this forgiveness and consequences.pexels-photo-269923.jpeg

Our choices do have an impact on what happens next, but we can tell a different tale going forward.

Imagine: the paper is changed by the act of erasing the pencil marks but we can continue to write on it.

pexels-photo-448835.jpegGod, Your message is simple to understand, really. Every day is a divine do-over. The difficult part is seeing what the next right thing is – and sometimes wanting to see what it is.

Grant me the chance and the desire to perceive what You have planned for today.

In Christ’s life-changing, life-fulfilling name, AMEN

“But For The Grace Of God”

“But For The Grace Of God”

Did you know there are five single-chapter books in the Bible? I found this out, I’m slightly ashamed to say, when, in response to a challenge to read a book of the Bible, I sought out the shortest one. (I have always looked for the easiest way. To be fair, though, I  resolved to read all five to complete the test.)

If you are curious, allow me to save you the time it would take to look them up. They are: Obidiah, Philemon, 2 John, 3 John, and Jude.

So, this morning, as I contemplated how to get my time in the Word, I decided to have a look at one of these books, and chose Jude. Some translations will have “headers” to different sections of verse, and Jude started out ominously, “The Warnings of History to the Ungodly.”

As I read, a cliche came to me and I dug a little further into it. “There, but for the grace of God, go I,” is commonly attributed to John Bradford, a preacher in sixteenth-century England. The supposed occasion for the saying was the sight of convicted criminals going to their execution. The inference I take is that the fate of the wrong-doers was something Bradford had been unconditionally pardoned from; which is to say he believed himself to be deserving of the same punishment, or worse. (If there could be anything worse. If you believe, I think you’d agree there are several things worse than a swift death.)

(As a side note, the ‘history’ Jude lists are: the post-Exodus destruction by God of some of His people, the angels who followed Lucifer in being thrown down from heaven, and the fates of Sodom and Gomorrah.)

What research showed, however, is a complete reversal in the saying’s meaning in modern times. Nowadays, we might intone the phrase whenever we see someone who’s experiencing some bad luck or misfortune. The change is as if it were not villains the speaker is observing, just some poor innocents in the wrong place at the wrong time. I assure you, God’s Amazing Grace is not some lottery prize only for those with some winning combination of circumstances. It is a free gift offered to every living person, simply waiting to be received, enjoyed, and employed.

Do you see? The new interpretation is one of victimhood. “I’ve done nothing to deserve this,” we claim now. Certainly, we are guaranteed storms in this life, and we are unlikely to understand why ‘this’ is happening to us. But “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” “Human” and “perfect” are two words that can not be set together, except when referring to Jesus Christ. Instead, what grace allows is our continuation of this human journey. It is progress, not perfection, we seek. And what we often need is convincing to carry on.

One source indicated Bradford was paraphrasing 1 Corinthians 15:8-10, in which Paul is explaining why he is the least of the apostles because he persecuted the church in his past, and: 

:10 God’s kindness made me what I am, and that kindness was not wasted… I worked hard… [but] it was not I who did it, but God’s kindness was with me.

Jude also states this concept of a divine reprieve, and the opportunity for us to change which it makes possible. We are invited to redouble our efforts to accept His assistance and the sacrifice which provides the ultimate for us, and to:

:20-21 …use your most holy faith to grow. Pray with the Holy Spirit’s help. Remain in God’s love as you look for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to give you eternal life. (GW translation)

I really like the sense of urgency the AMP version gives to this:

…waiting anxiously and looking forward to the mercy of our Lord…

“Anxious for mercy.” The Grace of God. It’s not about my fortunes or rich circumstances, but about a constant acknowledgement of my real blessing in receiving the ultimate in undeserved favor. The greatest gift. So, maybe it is like winning the lottery, after all.

By the way, as for John Bradford, he was burned at the stake in 1555.