For a tradition that preaches of a Redemption that follows the Fall, I have encountered an uncanny amount of pro-death penalty sentiments in Reformed circles. I found myself waffling back and forth, wading through the pros and cons of death penalties vs. life sentences for many years.
For the person with gender dysphoria, much like Christ himself, no “how-to” manual on carrying the cross is provided. Only grace will be sufficient here.
The reason we are so fearful of our sin, the reason we are so hesitant to acknowledge it, is because we are so used to it. We’ve become so accustomed to living a life of sinful patterns that, even though we may pay lip service to wanting to be holy, the fear of letting go of our sinful nature is overwhelming.
What do we do with texts of joy in times when our spirits need lament? Do we ignore them?
It reminds us that God is not bound to offer grace to the disbelieving rebels, although He has done so time after time. It reminds us that God may also speak judgment to those who close their ears to His grace.
This reminds me less of complaints I’ve heard from others, and leads me to think more of a confession that I need to make. It is this poetry, nearly 500 years old, which rings in my ears in a new way.
The grace of Jesus doesn’t give us license to go on sinning and being stubborn, but it does mean that when we cry out to God for forgiveness, we can be made right before God through the sacrifice of Jesus; in this righteousness, we are made more holy through the power of the Spirit.
Paul says that there is a war, and that it’s raging. It isn’t a war between Jews and Gentiles. It isn’t between us and them, or between right and wrong, or left and right. It is between law and grace. It is an internal war between I-can-do-it-on-my-own (independence) and come-to-me all-who-are-weary (dependence). It is between you-get-what-you-deserve and find-rest for-your-souls.
Perhaps gratitude is, like birding, both discipline and grace.
The world needs grace, which means it needs you.
God is paying attention. God comes close to us, wants to be present with us, attends with us.
It is the promise that though there will be storms, hardships, trials, persecutions, and disasters – though the world as it was known has been changed forever – the promise of God’s presence, God’s love, God’s care, and God’s companionship on the journey will not change.
The freedom of Christ, however, is rooted in the work accomplished by Christ on the cross, that is, freeing us from the shackles of our sin forever.
Lila tells the story of a young woman, Lila Dahl—of her abandonment at birth, her wild upbringing among vagrants, and her eventual arrival in the small town of Gilead, Iowa, where she begins a relationship with the gentle pastor who would one day become her husband. It is a story of grace – divine and human – and of unconditional love.
A true transformation cannot be seen from one’s religious deeds, but from a heart that truly loves the Lord. Yes, Saul may look like a righteous man, but his devotion was driven by his idolization of the Laws of Moses, not his love for the Lord.
The funny thing about stealing is that the result is never how you imagine. The euphoria attached to the act of taking and owning something taboo quickly plummets to despair and shame.
We are like David! No matter how much we love the Lord, we cannot save ourselves (or our world) from the evil within.
Ash Wednesday offers to us a lifetime of days and to receive this gift, we only need to look at the birds, to be like them in their nesting and in their singing.
God gives us laws to follow—not to tie us down, but as an act of love, knowing we can’t live lives free from sin, but that striving to live lives in obedience to God is what God desires for us.
Repentance is acknowledging that, like Israel, we are not actually very good at all-of-life discipleship.
We can never understand grace unless we first come to know the depth of our sin. That is one of the primary truths of the Bible, and it also happens to be one of the convicting truths that we do not like to hear, one which many modern churches tend to shy away from preaching.
Sometimes God’s Word is like that: a hidden treasure that we accidentally stumble upon- by God’s grace and through the Spirit- like a famous painting stuck behind a door or the Book of the Law concealed in a closet somewhere in the house of the Lord or even a wise prophetess in a male-dominated biblical narrative. It can surprise us.
Maybe instead of trying so hard to find the way back home, the little girl needs – I need – to stop, take a moment, and realize that as much as I seek after God, it’s really God who’s seeking me.
This is the story of one who took the blame.
We were the ones who did it. But we weren’t the ones punished for it.
Some opportunities for acts of faith are greater and more frequent than others, and not everyone is called to take the same kind of risks. But, still, God is God, and the Lord isn’t going to stop listening to us any time soon.
- Page 1 of 2