Broken Crayons

Have you heard the saying that broken crayons still color? It’s true.

It’s also true that God uses broken people to bring out the colors in the world. Those, and not the perfectly whole people, are the ones God favors to work in and to work through.

God uses wounded healers because He is a wounded healer. He still bears the scars from His wounds by which we were healed.

Those marks on His hands and feet are to remind us that we weren’t healed and saved to bask in our deliverance, but to turn around and help others find healing. We have been reconciled through shed blood in order to facilitate a ministry of reconciliation based on the Prince of Peace.

Living Out the Gospel

“Everything in the world is about to be wrapped up, so take nothing for granted. Stay wide-awake in prayer. Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything. Be quick to give a meal to the hungry, a bed to the homeless—cheerfully. Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it: if words, let it be God’s words; if help, let it be God’s hearty help. That way, God’s bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and he’ll get all the credit as the One mighty in everything—encores to the end of time. Oh, yes!” (1 Peter 4:7-11, The Message)

The Message translation is hit-or-miss in my book. Sometimes, it misses the mark in capturing the original intent of the author and gets too loose with its paraphrasing. But when it’s on, it’s dead on. Like this passage form 1 Peter 4.

That’s the gist of the gospel right there, spelled out in black and white. Faith isn’t genuine unless it shows itself in good works. Love isn’t genuine unless it goes beyond mere words and takes hands and feet toward the less fortunate in very tangible ways.

It’s not just social justice without addressing the spiritual need for salvation, and it’s not just a call for repentance without meeting their physical needs. It’s both.

Most of all, it’s about loving people in the same way that God in Jesus loved you. Of course, that’s impossible by merely human standards. It only becomes possible when you serve out of the overflow of God’s love.

As my favorite pastor put it, when you receive God’s love, it’s like trying to contain the ocean in a thimble. When that love of God spills out onto those around you, that’s the basis on which you’re loving people with God’s love and serving them from the overflow and not from your own resources.


More Kairos Takeaways

Something Tyler McKenzie said at Kairos has been playing on repeat in my head ever since. Basically, he said that we should see people at the very least as those made in God’s image and those loved and died for by Jesus.

Even Donald Trump? Yes.

Even Hillary Clinton? Yes.

The same goes for your gay co-worker, your Muslim neighbor, your obnoxious uncle, or anyone else in your sphere of influence.

It’s much easier to hide behind a laptop and cast stones at those who offend us. While we may claim to be a society of grace, what we really are is a society of outrage that would rather spew dialogue than seek understanding.

It’s much harder to seek to love as Jesus did, even with those who crucified Him. It takes someone who has experienced God’s love for him or her in Jesus to even be able to come close to loving like that.

When you’re more concerned about being reconciled than being proven right, you’re on your way to that kind of love.

When you stop dehumanizing those who disagree with you and hold opposing views, you’re on your way to that kind of love.

For true racial and ethnic reconciliation to take place, it will take all of us seeing each other through God’s eyes. Will it be easy? Not hardly. Will it be worth it? Absolutely.


Do You Believe?

“Do you believe that the God of Jesus loves you beyond worthiness and unworthiness, beyond fidelity and infidelity—that he loves you in the morning sun and in the evening rain—that he loves you when your intellect denies it, your emotions refuse it, your whole being rejects it. Do you believe that God loves without condition or reservation and loves you this moment as you are and not as you should be” (Brennan ManningAll Is Grace: A Ragamuffin Memoir).

That’s the key. Do you believe that God really loves you?

I think most of the time a lot of us believe it in the same way we believe that Galileo existed or that Einstein discovered the theory of relativity– we assent to it as an intellectual fact.

Then we live and serve out of our own reservoir and wonder why we seem to burn out so easily and why we’re always so tired.

When we can accept with our entire being that God loves us and receive that love, then we realize that trying to contain the love of God is like trying to contain all the oceans in a thimble (thanks to Uncle Mikey for that one). It ends up sloshing over the sides and spilling out onto everything around it.

When we begin to grasp and understand and receive the love of God, we live and serve out of the constant overflow that never ceases. Not to say that we don’t go through seasons of hardship and suffering or that we don’t experience seasons of spiritual dryness where God and His love are harder to find.

Still, the normal experience for the believer who understands (as much as is possible for anyone to understand) the comprehensive love of God for each of us is the abundant life of joy and peace that comes out of the overflow of that life.

May we all come one step closer to that kind of life today.


God’s Strong Love


I found this on Pinterest and it spoke volumes to me. It’s amazing how C. S. Lewis can take the most complex and profound themes and break them down into something even I can understand.

This says it all. Our love is frail, but God’s love is strong. Our love fails, but God’s love lasts forever. We let each other down regularly, but God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

We spend our time chasing after broken cisterns and useless idols, but God’s love is the overflowing and never-ending well that never runs dry.

Maybe one day we’ll finally understand just how deep and wide and long and high that love goes and then we can finally be content in it.


Two Kinds of Love

“There are two kinds of love: we love wise and kind and beautiful people because we need them, but we love (or try to love) stupid and disagreeable people because they need us. This second kind is the more divine because that is how God loves us: not because we are lovable but because He is love, not because He needs to receive but He delights to give” (C. S. Lewis).

This is why I’m not a fan of karma. Karma says that you get what’s coming to you. That’s it. No discussion. Side note: I notice that a lot of people are wishing karma on everybody else but want and expect grace for themselves when they screw up. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t work that way.

But what if I don’t want what’s coming to me? What if I know that at times I’ve been stupid and disagreeable?

The secret is to treat others like you yourself want to be treated? The key is to love others like God has loved you.

Of course, none of us ever come close to that perfect standard of God’s love. Most of the time, we do good to love those who love us. We do less well with those who annoy us.

Still, the more God’s love has its way in us, the more we are able to love those who can’t reciprocate that love, who can’t repay our kindnesses. The more we become like Jesus the more we love those disagreeable people (sometimes without even realizing it).

It all starts when you really and truly believe that God loves you as you are and not as you should be. God loves you no matter what. You can’t do anything to make Him love you more and you certainly can’t do anything that will cause Him to love you less.

The more you believe that, the more your love looks like His.


Costly Love

Jesus: Dear woman, where is everyone? Are we alone? Did no one step forward to condemn you?

Woman Caught in Adultery: Lord, no one has condemned me.

Jesus: Well, I do not condemn you either; all I ask is that you go and from now on avoid the sins that plague you” (John 8:10-11).

I’ve learned over the years that any kind of love, romantic or not, is costly. You have to give of yourself for love to work, to be real and true love.

The best kind of love, God’s love, is the kind that reaches out to the unloveable. In case you were wondering, that was both you and me once.

There are some people in your life, in my life, who will be very difficult to love. It will cost you something, maybe a lot, to love that person. It will require forgiveness and letting go of a lot of hurt and anger.

Maybe it will help you to remember that it cost God everything to love you. It cost a cross for God to demonstrate that love to you and me.

I was sitting in the back of The Church at Avenue South, where I normally sit when I am the designated graphics person who puts up the worship song lyrics and sermon text on the big screens.

I was thinking of how much I really do need to forgive because I know that there have been (and will continue to be) many cases where I will need forgiveness for myself. I, like so many of you, have a tendency to put my foot in my mouth and say stupid stuff. I have a tendency to be forgetful and selfish and lots of other things (that I’m sure you’ve been at some point in your life as well).

I continue to be thankful for Aaron Bryant for being a faithful messenger of God’s Word to God’s people. His honesty and transparency are always refreshing and inspiring. Thanks, Aaron, for always being a good and faithful servant of Jesus.

Tom Brady and the Gospel

“So never forget how you used to be. Those of you born as outsiders to Israel were outcasts, branded “the uncircumcised” by those who bore the sign of the covenant in their flesh, a sign made with human hands. 12 You had absolutely no connection to the Anointed; you were strangers, separated from God’s people. You were aliens to the covenant they had with God; you were hopelessly stranded without God in a fracturedworld. 13 But now, because of Jesus the Anointed and His sacrifice, all of that has changed. God gathered you who were so far away and brought you near to Him by the royal blood of the Anointed, our Liberating King” (Ephesians 2:11-14, The Voice).

I should probably preface this by making this disclaimer: I am not now nor have I ever been a New England Patriots fan.

That said, I am amazed at how people who profess faith in Jesus and will loudly sing about His grace are so quick to post hateful and unChristlike comments and statuses about Tom Brady and the Patriots.

I’m not defending whether or not they cheated. I don’t know. I don’t know Tom Brady personally, so I can’t say anything about his character or behavior.

I do know this. I’d hate to be scrutinized and judged the way he’s been judged. The Bible I read seems to tell us not to judge and condemn, yet I see believers rushing to cast judgmental and condemning posts his way.

I also read that Jesus defended a woman caught in the very act of adultery. He told her accusers that he who is without sin should be the one to cast the first stone. Apparently, there are a lot of sinless people out there casting stones at Mr. Brady.

I don’t know the condition of Tom Brady’s soul. I can’t vouch either way on his salvation. No one but Tom Brady and God can.

I can say that I’d hate for someone who professes to be a follower of Jesus to be a stumbling block to Mr. Brady finding that salvation through comments that serve no other purpose but to judge and condemn.

My God is a God of grace. My God is a God who reaches out to the least of these, to those who deserve anything but a second chance.

I know that I’d hate people to dredge up my past failures and use them against me. I know some of you really wouldn’t want that.

I’m not by any means saying to root for the Patriots. I’m not saying to go out and buy a Tom Brady jersey. I’m merely suggesting that we show him the same mercy that we’ve been shown by God though Christ Jesus.

No one really wants what they deserve. If we got that, we’d all be in a lot of trouble. An eternity’s worth of trouble.

So maybe instead of bashing Mr. Brady, try praying for him instead. Maybe extend a little grace. Remember that you once needed someone to extend grace to you and you will more than likely need it again at some point in your life.

If your love of sports can allow you to be mean and hateful to the opposing teams and players, perhaps it has become an idol in your heart. Perhaps it has come to be something more than the entertainment it was always meant to be.

These are just the thoughts of one ragamuffin who knows what he deserves and is forever thankful and grateful that through the grace of God he will never get it.


Still Astonished

“We should be astonished at the goodness of God, stunned that He should bother to call us by name, our mouths wide open at His love, bewildered that at this very moment we are standing on holy ground” (Brennan Manning).

” . . . [A]lmost the whole world is asleep. Everybody you know. Everybody you see. Everybody you talk to . . . . [O]nly a few people are awake and they live in a state of constant total amazement” (from Joe Vs. The Volcano).

Very few things in my life are cause for astonishment anymore. I don’t necessarily consider myself overly cynical, but I have experienced a lot in my lifetime, so not much is new to me.

I miss the part of being a child where so many things astonished me, to when the world was a far more magical and mystical place.

Maybe the one thing that should never lose its wonder for me is the grace of God. The fact that I wake up every morning to a new dose of grace still astonishes me. In fact, the more I see of myself, the more I learn what I am deep down apart from the grace of God, I am amazed that such a thing as grace still exists for me.

Also, perhaps what could serve to draw people to this great God we serve is when people see us living in a constant state of total amazement over God’s love for us. It won’t happen when we focus on following rules and being moral. It will happen when we finally confess our complete and total dependence on God and His grace and fall at His feet in an act of utter surrender.

When you see that life and everything in it is grace, you truly begin to see each new day not as an entitlement or a reward but as a completely undeserved gift (which is what grace is) that comes not to those who’ve earned it but to those who realize that they deserve nothing but death and hell apart from God.

So, thank you, God, for this life, and forgive me if I don’t love it enough. Forgive me if I don’t thank You enough for it and live amazed by it.


Don’t Believe the Hype

I was thinking about how the world was supposed to end in 2012 (according to the Mayan calendar– or someone’s interpretation of it). That didn’t happen. Obviously. The fact that you are reading this is fairly good evidence that the world did not in fact come to a screeching halt.

Today was supposed to be Snowpocalypse 2016. There was supposed to be all this ice and snow and sleet. The result? Not so much. Maybe a dusting of snow. There are a lot of people sitting at home feeling dumb with all their loaves of bread, gallons of milk, and heavy duty snow shovels sitting in their garages, going unused.

A lot of things get overhyped these days. I supposed when you have so many 24-hour news channels you have to fill them up with something.

One thing that can never be overhyped is the love of God in Jesus for you and me. That we can never make too much of.

The hard part comes in not in the reality of that love but in our acceptance of it. We’ve invested our trust into too many other people and things that have let us down and not delivered on their promises. Too many of us have broken hearts and broken lives as a result of misplaced trust.

The truth that I keep getting reminded of is that God’s love is genuine. It’s real. It’s unfailing, eternal, and unconditional. I can do nothing to make God love me less and nothing to make God love me more.

This may be Bible 101 to a lot of you. It may be kindergarten theology to some. I do think that at least one person needs the reminder and needs to see the words that God loves you just the way you are, before you’ve turned over a new leaf and before you’ve turned your life around. God loves you just as you are and He refuses to leave you where He found you. His goal and glory (which is your greatest good) is to see you become just like Jesus.

That’s the real deal.