Monday, November 12, 2007

GRACE

Sorry I haven’t been around much lately!! I have enjoyed catching up on some of your blogs, even though I haven’t been posting much! (Haha..i just typed “poasting” instead of p-o-s-t…probably cause I was thinking about making TOAST…goodness…am I ever NOT hungry?!) Anyways…the Lord has been teaching me a lot in the last week or so, but the one thing that has been shouted (beautifully) in my direction far more times than I can count is the subject of grace. GRACE. The most beautiful word. :)

I just started reading “The Ragamuffin Gospel” by Brennan Manning yesterday, and I don’t think it was just a coincidence that I picked up a book during such a week where this reoccurring subject was etched so closely to the forefront of my mind. Grace, that is. (I just love saying that word.) So I just wanted to share some of my favorite thoughts written in this book by someone much more well-versed than I. Maybe someone else needs to see these today, or maybe this visual-kinesthetic learner just needs to type them out to see them again herself. Regardless, I hope these words bless your day…in whatever way your heart may need. (Sorry this may be long...REALLY LONG...just read as you have time)

“On a blustery October night in a church outside Minneapolis, several hundred believers had gathered for a three-day seminar. I began with a one-hour presentation on the gospel of grace and the reality of salvation. Using Scripture, story, symbolism, and personal experience, I focused on the total sufficiency of the redeeming work of Jesus Christ on Calvary. The service ended with a song and a prayer.
Leaving the church by a side door, the pastor turned to his associate and fumed, “Humph, that airhead didn’t say one thing about what we have to do to earn out salvation!”
Something is radically wrong.
The bending of the mind by the powers of this world has twisted the gospel of grace into religious bondage and distorted the image of God into an eternal, small-minded bookkeeper. The Christian community resembles a Wall Street exchange of works wherein the elite are honored and the ordinary ignored. Love is stifled, freedom shackled, and self-righteousness fastened. The institutional church has become wounder of the healers rather than a healer of the wounded.
Put bluntly, the American church today accepts grace in theory but denies it in practice. We say we believe that the fundamental structure of reality is grace, not works—but our lives refute our faith. By and large, the gospel of grace is neither proclaimed, understood, nor lived.

…Though the Scriptures insist on God’s initiative in the work of salvation—that by grace we are saved, that the Tremendous Lover has taken to the chase—our spirituality often starts with self, not God. Personal responsibility has replaced personal response. We talk about acquiring virtue as if it were a skill that can be attained, like good handwriting or a well-grooved golf swing. In the penitential seasons we focus on overcoming our weakness, getting rid of our hang-ups, and reaching Christian maturity…Though lip service is paid to the gospel of grace, many Christians live as if only personal discipline and self-denial will mold the perfect me.

…Our huffing and puffing to impress God, our scrambling for brownie points, our thrashing about trying to fix ourselves while hiding our pettiness and wallowing in guilt are nauseating to God and are a flat denial of the gospel of grace…

…[God] is not moody or capricious; He knows no seasons of change. He has a single relentless stance toward us; He loves us. He is the only god man has ever heard of who loves sinners. False gods—the gods of human manufacturing—despise sinners, but the Father of Jesus loves all, no matter what they do…Through no merit of ours, but by His mercy, we have been restored to a right relationship with God through the life, death, and resurrection of His beloved Son. This is the Good News, the gospel of grace.

Matthew 9:13 “Mercy is what pleases me, not sacrifice. And indeed I came to call not the upright, but sinners.”

…[Jesus is] fully aware that His table fellowship with sinners will raise the eyebrows of religious bureaucrats who hold up the robes and insignia of their authority to justify their condemnation of the truth and their rejection of the gospel of grace.

…Jesus says the kingdom of His Father is not a subdivision for the self-righteous nor for those who feel they possess the state secret of salvation. The kingdom is not an exclusive, well-trimmed suburb with snobbish rules about who can live there. No, it is for larger, homelier, less self-conscious caste of people who understand they are sinners because they have experience the yaw and pitch of moral struggle.

…God not only loves me as I am, but also knows me as I am. Because of this I don’t need to apply spiritual cosmetics to make myself presentable to Him. I can accept ownership of my poverty and powerlessness and neediness.

…We have been given God in our souls and Christ in our flesh. We have the power to believe where others deny, to cope where others despair, to love where others hurt…My deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ and I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it.

Ephesians 2:8-9 “Because it is by grace that you have been saved, through faith; not by anything of your own, but by a gift from God; not by anything that you have done, so that nobody can claim the credit.”

(quote by Paul Tillich from The Shaking of the Foundations)
“Grace strikes us when we are in great pain and restlessness. It strikes us when we walk through the dark valley of a meaningless and empty life…It strikes us when, year after year, the longed-for perfection does not appear, when the old compulsions reign within us as they have for decades, when despair destroys all joy and courage. Sometimes at that moment a wave of light breaks into our darkness, and it is as though a voice were saying: ‘You are accepted. You are accepted, accepted by that which is greater than you, and the name of which you do not know. Do not ask for the name now; perhaps you will find it later. Do not try to do anything now; perhaps later you will do much. Do not seek for anything, do not perform anything, do not intend anything. Simply accept the fact that you are accepted.’ If that happens, to us, we experience grace.”

…Never confuse your perception of yourself with the mystery that you really are accepted.

2 Corinthians 12:9 “My grace is enough for you; my power is at its best in weakness. So I shall be very happy to make my weaknesses my special boast so that the power of Christ may stay over me.”

Because salvation is by grace through faith, I believe that among the countless number of people standing in front of the throne and in front of the Lamb, dressed in white roes and holding palms in their hands (see Revelation 7:9), I shall see the prostitute from the Kit-Kat Ranch in Carson City, Nevada, who tearfully told me she could find no other employment to support her two-year-old son. I shall see the woman who had an abortion and is haunted by guilt and remorse but did the best she could faced with grueling alternatives; the businessman besieged with debt who sold his integrity in a series of desperate transactions; the insecure clergyman addicted to being liked, who never challenged his people from the pulpit and longed for unconditional love; the sexually abused teen molested by his father and now selling his body on the street, who, as he falls asleep each night after his last “trick,” whispers the name of the unknown God he learned about in Sunday school; the deathbed convert who for decades had his cake and ate it, broke every law of God and man, wallowed in lust, and raped the earth.
“But how? we ask.
Then the voice says, “The have washed their robes and made them while in the blood of the Lamb.”
There they are. There we are—the multitude who so wanted to be faithful, who at times got defeated, soiled by life, and bested by trials, wearing the bloodied garments of life’s tribulations, but through it all clung to the faith.
My friends, if this is not good news to you, you have never understood the gospel of grace." :)

23 comments:

Stephanie (Ocean Mommy) said...

I need to get that book! Thanks for sharing this. :)

blessings
steph.

Teri said...

I didn't read the whole thing but I read a lot of it and skimmed the rest.

The reason my heart is so thankful is simply because of Grace. To know where I came from and that God literally saved me, by faith THROUGH GRACE...it truly makes me fall to my knees in thanksgiving.

He was (is) so merciful to send Jesus. The epitome of grace.

Thanks for this post, it was awesome! I am right there with you girl!

Fran said...

Grace. Grace. Grace. Grace. It's just a beautiful word. Its an act that I can't get my mind around sometimes. He saved me (my wrecked self) by faith through grace. Isn't He just beautiful and the most loving Father?

I will share this post with others. I loved your words and the authors words. Just beautiful. Grace is just beautiful.

Hugs and love~
Fran

Leigh said...

Glad your back. MIssed your post....

Alana said...

I think it is a process to understand grace. If we ever really do. I learn more about the word every day.

jennyhope said...

hey girl my friend jessica lives in franklin. i will have to find out the name of her church. it is plant and is presbyterian. also, i looked online at the concert Brooke is having in Nashville. Is that a big place that she is coming to? I was thinking that if I could get off of work I might come.

Bev Brandon said...

loved loved loved it...
don't confuse your perception
with MYSTERY...
it is a mystery
how we change
how grace upon grace works in us
how God moves
and way too often
I want to reduce MYSTERY
to understanding...
it's the mystery of the Gospel...
only two things really change us
...the fall and GRACE
thank you for a beautiful post

BethAnne said...

I am getting that book! I don't know where I would be without God's grace (well, yes I do, but I don't want to think about it). When I was growing up, if I would say something about someone who was in trouble alot or someone who made bad choices my mom would say "It's only because of the grace of God that isn't you" and it wasnt until I was much older that I realized how true those words are.

jennyhope said...

hey girlie I just ate a bagel in honor of you. just so you know I am at panera. :)

Kathleen Marie said...

"Put bluntly, the American church today accepts grace in theory but denies it in practice..." So sadly true! This is just a wonderful post.

Two other books that you would love on Grace are Grace by Andrew Womack and Destined to Reign by Joseph Prince. Both are fairly new books and can be found at harrisonhouse.com

Grace is such a wondrous gift! Hugs!

Renee said...

I LOVE this book. My husband was having a hard time once...feeling like he HAD to do certain things to feel close to God (and he grew up a Christian). He read this book, and it totally clicked for him. We don't HAVE to do anything. Just love Him.

Thanks for sharing this!!!

Sharon said...

It is hard to remember that He loves me period. I did nothing to earn my salvation and I can do nothing to keep it. It is mine and it will never be taken away. But by my actions you would think that I have to work to keep it.
Only when our actions are birthed out of love will they please the Fathers heart.

Angela @ Refresh My Soul Blog said...

POWERFUL post! I think I may need to read that myself too!

Grace is such a need.
Much love,
Angela

He Knows My Name said...

i tagged you :)

~janel

I'm Tara. said...

Awesome, Abby. Absolutely wonderful. I so, so, SO needed to read that today. May you be blessed for sharing what was on your heart, for you have blessed mine today, girlfriend.

Jackie said...

just want to say love you girl, hope all is well for you...getting ready for some turkey-day soon?? Love ya!

Sunni at The Flying Mum said...

I just finished a book club on Ragamuffin Gospel! Loved it!

The Preacher's Wife said...

God not only loves me as I am, but also knows me as I am. Because of this I don’t need to apply spiritual cosmetics to make myself presentable to Him. I can accept ownership of my poverty and powerlessness and neediness.


I love this one..:)

Leigh said...

come back, come back. I miss your blog.

黃小琥Tiger said...
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disa said...
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