Archives For Life

Grace is a subject inexhaustible. A well whose depths we could never hope to fully plumb, a tower so high we could never hope to scale its heights. Perhaps then it’s easier to begin a post on grace by stating what it isn’t:

Grace isn’t mercy.

Mercy, for the purposes of discussion here, is simply the withholding of something deserved. For instance, let’s say you’ve been pulled over by one of our boys in blue for speeding. Both you, and he, know you deserve that ticket. You were speeding. Instead, the officer lets you off with a warning. You’ve just received mercy. A deserved consequence has been withheld.

How would grace play play out in a similar situation (for the sake of argument, please bear with me here)? You were speeding in your battered, beaten old Chevy. You stop. The officer approaches your car. You figure you’re going to get a ticket for sure. You’re not getting out of this one. When the cop asks you to exit your vehicle, you know you’re toast.

And then…

Not only does he give you a warning, he also hands you to the keys to his supercharged Dodge Charger. He says it’s yours, and to go on your way. You deserved a ticket, and instead got a new car!

That’s grace, my friends. Erstwhile theologians the Newsboys put it this way:

“When we don’t get what we deserve it’s a real good thing.” (Mercy).

“When get what we don’t deserve it’s a real good thing.” (Grace).

Put another way, and let’s say you’re a parent, the difference between mercy and grace is the difference between merely withholding a deserved consequence from your child (mercy), and instead bearing that consequence yourself–and then taking your kid out for ice cream! While the two go hand-in-hand, there’s nevertheless a vast divide betwixt them. As defined by the theologians, grace is “the unmerited, unearned favor of God.” We did nothing to earn it, nothing to deserve it, and yet He pours it out upon us.

Why?

Because Jesus.

Not only did He take our deserved punishment on the cross, He now pours out unearned, unmerited blessings upon us. Like the example above, we deserved a ticket, and instead got the new car.

All we have to do is believe.

The late science fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein coined the phrase “there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch” (TANSTAAFL). Respectfully, Mr. Heinlein I disagree. There is, and it’s called Christianity. Specifically, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Romans 5:8 says, “God shows His love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” All who call upon His name shall be saved.

Have you called upon His Name today? Have you experienced His grace?

You can–if you will but believe.

Thanks for reading!

There are numerous misconceptions in the wide world about Christianity, about Christians, about faith. We’re all bigots, hypocrites, weak-minded, deniers of science. We’ve taken the primrose path of easy-believism.

Nothing could be further from the truth. A life of faith is anything but easy. Some have the mistaken notion that faith in Christ takes all of one’s problems away. That’s, as Paul would say, “dung.” If anything, faith multiples one’s problems, because:

Having experienced the love of God, we are forced to reconcile that love with an unloving world.

With hostility.

With health problems (in ourselves, or those we love).

With financial worries.

With children who seem hell bent on piddling away their lives.

We who know God know that He can step in, render aid; instead, He often chooses to walk, and weep, with us through the hard times. Where we desire the miraculous, He offers succor instead.

Faith, Christian faith, requires much more of us than we are willing to give; namely, dying daily to our expectations about just who, and what, God is. C.S. Lewis once said that “faith holding onto to those things our reason once accepted, in spite of our changing feelings.”

In spite of a world which, where it doesn’t actively oppose a life of faith, is casually indifferent to it (and that indifference is infectious in that it tempts us to forgetfulness of God). It’s all pretty relative, and tolerated, unless one stubbornly clings to the cross of Christ. That life, as the Bible says, is offensive. Because it’s rooted in the Gospel it gives off a certain savor; to the saved, it is the aroma of life. To the unsaved, it’s the sickly sweet stench of moldering death.

No one wants to be reminded that not only are they going to die, but that they are in fact dead already.

This, amongst many other reasons, is why it’s harder to believe than not to.

What are some ways you’ve found it’s harder to believe than not to?

There are companies out there that care about their customers. That value the goodwill of their customers. Who understand that choosing them over their competition is more than a business transaction.

It’s a relationship.

DirecTV is not one of those companies. How do I know? Let me count show the ways.

My wife and I are DirecTV customers. Have been for over a year-and-a-half. We have paid them a godly sum in that time to enjoy their programming. Last Monday evening, we noticed some playback errors during one of our favorite shows, Castle. At the time, we didn’t think much of it, writing it off as a broadcast glitch. Between then, and Sunday evening (the fifth of October), we didn’t notice any other errors. But that night when I settled in to watch the season finale of The Strain, the Genie Minis were indicating that a “server could not be found.” Strange, I thought.  
Going downstairs to check on it, I turned the T.V., and was greeted with:

image

(Disclosure: I took this picture the following morning; on Sunday night, there were 16 errors).

Being in the tech industry, I knew that the errors referred to were disk errors. Which meant that the drive in the DVR was on its way out. I let DirecTV know. They’re sending replacement.  Well and good.

What’s not so good is that it’s 2014, and they’re not doing a thing to help me save the existing recorded content. Despite the fact that there are indeed ways to do it.

image

This is stuff that I’ve paid for the privilege of watching. And now, according to DirecTV, I won’t be able to.

What’s particularly galling to me is that we have a brief window of opportunity to move content off of their failing equipment (it’s leased), and they won’t even send me a Genie Go to at least preserve that stuff for a month:

image

Way to stand behind your equipment, DirecTV! Kudos for your customer service. I can see that you value having My family and I as customers…

Not so much.

This is where things stand now. It’s what, in an earlier day, would have been termed a “Mexican standoff.” I won’t budge, they won’t budge. I guess they don’t know (or appreciate) the power of social media. Remember Comcast,  folks? And that support call from the nether regions?

Let’s make this go viral, too.

Here’s a hashtag: #DIrecTVdotherightthing

Can you help men out? Share this post on:

Twitter

Facebook

Google+

Let’s let DirecTV that shoddy customer service is unacceptable in 2014.

Thanks!

Everybody loves Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you, and not harm you. To give you a future and a hope.”

We eat that stuff up like delicious, delicious candy.

Or what about “I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me?”

That’s a good one, too!

“Taste and see that the Lord is good, and blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.” That’s a great one, which has adorned many a pillow down through the years.

How about “God is faithful in that, with every temptation, He provides a way of escape that you may be able to bear it?”
That’s a good one! And it’s probably the genesis of the oft-quoted (but less than biblical idea) that “God never gives us more than we can bear.”

Poppycock, I say! Tis pure balderdash!

Is this the same God Who says “In this world you will have tribulation?” Is it the same God that admonishes us to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling?” Is is the same God Who promises us “they shall hate you because they first hated Me?”

When the last time you saw that cross-stitched anywhere?

Or taught about in your church for that matter?

What about the epistle of First Peter, where we’re told “after you shall have suffered, God will?” We kind of gloss over that don’t we? Nobody wants to suffer, endure pain, or hardship.

But God promises it.

We shall be delivered up, the world shall hate us. Some of us will even die for our faith–be martyred.

Cheery thoughts, I know. These are the not so precious promises of God. The ones we don’t like think about.

Here’s another one: “Whether we live, or die, it is for Christ.” And “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” Fact is, nobody wants to die. But sooner, or later, we all do. There’s no avoiding it. Whether by “famine, or nakedness, or sword, or peril” nothing is able to separate us from his love. Not Ebola, or ISIS.

OR ANY OTHER THING ANYWHERE.

Here’s a promise you can stake your life (and afterlife) upon:

“Fear not him [ISIS, disease, the devil] who can destroy the body, but Him Who can destroy the soul [God].”

What’s your favorite not-so-precious promise of God?

I have been mulling this one over, unsure of how to proceed.

But this is the most important blog post you’ll ever read.

Why do I say that? Is it bald hubris, or mere temerity?

No, rather it’s all about life, death, and eternity.

Specifically:

Where will you spend yours–when this life is done, and you’ve had your fun–do you just go into the ground to become

The diet of worms?

Or is there something more?

And if there is, what are you doing about it now? What are you waiting for? You see, what I believe is that there is a life beyond the one we live day-to-day in fleshly decay.

One which goes on forever, that outlasts these born-to-die frames.

And that life?

That life has a name:

Jesus.

Whoever you are, wherever you’re at, call out to Him today.

Don’t delay.

This has been the most important blog post you’ll ever read.