Day Two of 2016

“Teach us to number our days so that we may truly live and achieve wisdom” (Psalm 90:12, VOICE).

There are probably some of you out there smarting over the fact that you didn’t get invited to any New Year’s Eve parties and you sat at home alone with your pet looking at all the pictures your friends posted on social media of the fabulous times they were having.

You are not alone. You may feel alone, but you’re not. God still sees and knows you. He knows you by name and knows you better than even you know yourself.

Some of you made resolutions for 2016 and have already fallen off the proverbial wagon. Those wonderful lists of things to improve in 2016 are now lining your bird cages or resting in peace at the bottom of your trash cans.

Something I’ve learned is that what counts and matters most isn’t your resolve to be and do better in 2016 but Jesus’ resolve to complete the salvation process He started in you way before 2016 (thanks to Ann Voskamp for that one).

The beautiful part is that you don’t have to wait until January 1, 2017 to start over. Every day you wake up is a chance for a do-over. In fact, every breath is a second chance to do right what you messed up and failed to do right the first time. Every second is a chance for surrender to stop trying so hard and let God do what only God can do in and through you.

FYI. You still have time to make those resolutions and set those goals if you haven’t already done so. I think it was C. S. Lewis who said something like this: It’s never too late to become who you always could have been and who you were meant to be all along. You’re never too old or too far gone to start over and choose wisely.

I think that about covers it for January 2, 2016.

 

Karma vs. Grace at Christmas

bono grace karma

I hear a lot of people who profess Christianity talking about karma. Well, more specifically, I see many of my facebook friends who post how people who mess them over are gonna get what karma’s dishing out.

It’s funny how people always want karma for others but never for themselves. Just my opinion.

I prefer grace. Period.

I know where I’d be if I got karma. Majorly screwed.

Besides, Jesus didn’t come to give karma. Jesus came to give grace, which in my mind is infinitely better.

Karma says you get what you deserve. Grace says Jesus got and paid for what you deserve. That’s the difference.

Karma is all about what you deserve. Grace is what you don’t deserve but get anyway. Karma may be getting your just desserts, but grace is more like a feast– much more satisfying and filling.

Karma says that it’s up to you. Grace says that God is up to it.

Karma says that if you try really hard and be nice to people then maybe, just maybe, on the next go-round, you won’t be a bug. Eventually, if you’re really lucky and eat all your vegetables, you may wind up in a good place. And I admit that I’m exaggerating a bit.

Grace says that no matter how badly you’ve messed up and how even if you’ve made enough mistakes for several lifetimes, Jesus offers forgiveness and a do-over. Jesus offers a new life, not just in the eternal by-and-by, but here and now. Life to the fullest.

I choose grace.

If you want karma, that’s fine. I don’t want to wish for someone what I wouldn’t want to receive myself. I know that it’s not right to want karma for others and grace for myself. It just doesn’t work that way.

So grace wins in my book, hands down. The end.

e3860b58337a2e43fb9158be464433d6

Easter Sunday 2014

Empty-Tomb1

“Almighty God, who through your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ overcame death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life: Grant that we, who celebrate with joy the day of the Lord’s resurrection, may be raised from the death of sin by your life-giving Spirit; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen”

It’s Easter.

I celebrated with about 130 or so others at the future location of The Church at Avenue South. Though the building has been gutted and won’t be ready for official use for another two months, still the real church got together to proclaim to anyone and everyone that this is Resurrection Day.

The resurrection DOES change everything. It means no more fear of death because Jesus overcame that last enemy when he walked out of the tomb with the sunrise on that first Easter Sunday. It means that whatever I’m afraid of has already been defeated and overcome by this same resurrection power that brought Jesus from death to life.

It means that there is no such thing as TOO LATE, that there’s always time for a do-over and a second chance and a fresh start, that as long as we’re alive we have a purpose and a God willing to bring out that purpose in us.

So I revisit an old Easter toast that I blogged about three years ago today: “We lift our glasses and drink to a Love that never gave up.”

https://oneragamuffin.wordpress.com/2011/04/20/an-easter-toast-stolen-from-someone-on-facebook/

I’ve posted a link so you can read the original post if you want.

Regardless, I’m glad that Easter has come. I’m glad that it isn’t just one day a year, but something that I can celebrate all 365 days (and 366 on those leap years). I’m thankful that just because the holiday ends doesn’t mean the power of that resurrection or its effects do.

 

Saints and Sinners

quote-every-saint-has-a-past-and-every-sinner-has-a-future

 

“Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.”

How true is that? All believers have something in their past that they’d rather forget, whether it was 15 years ago, 15 days ago, or 15 seconds ago. Every saint wishes at one time for a time machine to be able to travel back to that crucial moment and choose differently.

I have done and said some incredibly stupid things. I know you have. Unless you’ve lived in a bubble all your life or have perfected the art of self-deception, you have moments in the past that you regret. It’s easier to receive forgiveness from others and even from God sometimes than to forgive yourself and truly move on.

But forgiveness means just that. You are forgiven because of Jesus. Not because of your stellar track record or your perfectly good intentions, but because of Jesus taking your place and the punishment you deserved for all your failings and shortcomings.

All it takes is confession and repentance.

Every sinner has a future. No matter how badly you’ve screwed things up and how massive the wreckage your life has become, there is still forgiveness. There is still a clean slate and a fresh start. Not just up to three times before you strike out. God’s mercies are new every single morning. With every sunrise there is a do-over, a new beginning, a fresh start.

If you confess your screw-ups, God is faithful and just to forgive you. It doesn’t matter if you feel forgiven. You are. It doesn’t matter if you still feel guilty. That feeling isn’t from God and you don’t have to own it. After all, faith is believing when common sense and feelings tell you not to.

I’m more thankful than ever today for an unending supply of grace and forgiveness that belongs to me in Jesus. I didn’t earn it, I didn’t deserve it, but it’s mine. The same goes for you, too.