Dumb Stuff

All I can say in my defense is that it’s been a long week and I was tired. I walked right out of that restaurant and got all the way home before I was reminded that I hadn’t paid for my dinner [insert face palm here].

Thankfully, I was able pay with my credit card over the phone, adding a little extra gratuity for my temporary attack of stupidity.

I confess my faux pas in order to remind us all that we will all do stupid stuff from time to time. We will do what we shouldn’t have done and leave undone what we should have done.

As I’m learning, the key is to give yourself grace and to allow yourself to be human. If God, who knows far more about you and your inner workings than even you do, is able to forgive you, why can’t you forgive yourself? Why can’t I?

Of course, the idea is to learn from your dumb stuff and not do a repeat of your stupid mistakes. Common sense and good judgment go along way. Still, there will be the inevitable lapses, especially when you’re tired, and you will have those head slapping moments when you realize just what an idiot moment you just had.

Give grace to others always, but in the process, don’t forget to give yourself a little grace as well.

 

Why I Still Love Grace

My pastor has said many times that grace is when you take that moment that you swore you’d never tell another living soul and that becomes the first line of your testimony.

Grace doesn’t mean that sin doesn’t matter and that God really doesn’t mind when you transgress.

Grace does mean that you don’t get what your sins and transgressions deserve.

Grace means that Jesus got what all your sins and transgressions deserve, and you get all that belongs to Jesus.

Man, I do love grace.

Grace Wins

“You see, the reason why grace isn’t popular or easy is because it’s not cheap. To give grace costs us our right to be resentful and it robs us of our privilege to be bitter. After all, shouldn’t people get what they deserve, ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth?’ Jesus responds to that saying, ‘But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also’ (Matthew 5:38). Why should we allow others to slip away freely from their wrongs against us?  C. R. Strahan said, ‘Forgiveness has nothing to do with absolving a criminal of his crime. It has everything to do with relieving oneself of the burden of being a victim — letting go of the pain and transforming oneself from victim to survivor.’
Christ forgave the very men who drove nails through His wrists. And if the same power that raised Him from the grave lies in us, then surely, He can give us the power to lose, so that our aggressors weapons are rendered useless. We need to rob our enemies of the ability to offend us, by gladly taking the full brunt of their attack. It is then, and only then, that hostility is defeated and love conquers death. ‘Make allowances for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others’ (Colossians 3:13)” (Total Surrender, Matthew Terrill).

I think this nails it. In the current climate, whether it be political or spiritual or personal, it’s much easier to get self-righteous and morally superior over against those who oppose us and who seem to have diametrically opposite beliefs and convictions.

It’s much harder to forgive and to show grace, but so much more than worth it.

Always choose grace. Always choose forgiveness.

Thoughts on God’s Great Grace

It’s Monday. My brain is shot. I can’t come up with anything remotely inspiring or creative, so I decided to let one of my favorite writers express some powerful words about the grace of God:

“He saw you cast into a river of life you didn’t request. He saw you betrayed by those you love. He saw you with a body that gets sick and a heart that grows weak. He saw you in your own garden of gnarled trees and sleeping friends. He saw you staring into the pit of your own failures and the mouth of your own grave. He saw you in your own garden of Gethsemane and he didn’t want you to be alone.

He wanted you to know that he has been there, too. He knows what it’s like to be plotted against. He knows what it’s like to be confused. He knows what it’s like to be torn between two desires. He knows what it’s like to smell the stench of Satan. And, perhaps most of all, he knows what it’s like to beg God to change his mind and to hear God say so gently, but firmly, “No.” For that is what God said to Jesus. And Jesus accepts the answer.

At some moment during that midnight hour an angel of mercy comes over the weary body of the man in the garden. As he stands, the anguish is gone from his eyes. His fist will clench no more. His heart will fight no more. The battle is won. You may have thought it was won on Golgotha. It wasn’t. The final battle was won in Gethsemane. And the sign of conquest is Jesus at peace in the olive trees. For it was in the garden that he made his decision. He would rather go to hell for you than to heaven without you” (Max Lucado, The Gift for All People).

Now go buy all of his books.

I Lived to Tell the Tale

Some days are great and some days are terrible. Some days just are. This was one of them.

It wasn’t great. It wasn’t terrible. It just was.

Still, it’s got a few things going for it that make it a good day in my book.

I woke up this morning, so that’s a win.

I managed to breathe in and out and my heart kept beating all day. Another win.

I didn’t go hungry or thirsty or naked or cold. Still another win.

I woke up to God’s new mercies and I’m going to bed under His everlasting grace.

I’d call it a very good day, wouldn’t you?

 

Grace Given Vs. Grace Received

“I do not at all understand the mystery of grace – only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us” (Anne Lamott).

During the homeward commute, I thought I’d play the Good Samaritan and let the car beside me merge in front of me. Little did I know that the next three cars behind that car would take advantage of my generosity.

For a brief moment, I was upset. I was livid. I mean, how dare they? All of us good and faithful drivers have been patiently waiting in line while these others felt they could rush past us and force their way in at the last possible moment.

There’s no way they deserve to merge in front of me.

Then it was like God spoke to me. I don’t claim to hear the audible voice of God and I’m not claiming I had a prophetic word, but I had the strongest impression that God said, “You know that you’ve deserved far less and received far more than these people have.”

The heart of the Gospel is that Jesus came for the undeserving– the hell-deserving– and instead of giving them what they (and I ) deserved, He lavished them (and me) with exactly what they didn’t deserve but needed most. Grace. Mercy. Forgiveness.

That’s why I don’t buy into karma. I don’t go around bragging about other people getting what’s coming to them because I know where I’d be if I ever got what I truly had coming to me. It wouldn’t be pretty.

That’s why I’m such a huge fan of mercy and grace. I don’t get what I really deserve and I get what I don’t deserve.

I believe that if we’ve received so much grace, we should be the first to show it not to those who deserve it, but those like we once were (and still are at times) who deserve it least but need it most.

That means those with different political ideology than yours. It means people that irritate you and get on your nerves. It means bad drivers who don’t know how to merge.

Ultimately, it means forgiving yourself when you let yourself down, remembering that God has already forgiven you.

 

 

Grace for Today

“My message, unchanged for more than fifty years, is this: God loves
you unconditionally, as you are and not as you should be, because
nobody is as they should be. It is the message of grace…A grace
that pays the eager beaver who works all day long the same wages
as the grinning drunk who shows up at ten till five…A grace that
hikes up the robe and runs breakneck toward the prodigal reeking
of sin and wraps him up and decides to throw a party no ifs, ands,
or buts…This grace is indiscriminate compassion. It works without
asking anything of us…Grace is sufficient even though we huff and
puff with all our might to try to find something or someone it cannot
cover. Grace is enough…Jesus is enough” (Brennan Manning, All Is Grace: A Ragamuffin Memoir)

I had a decent sort of day. Not fantastic. Not horrible. Just decent.

On days like these, I need the grace of God.

I’ve had days where everything goes wrong and I have two left feet and I can barely remember my own name.

On those days, I need the grace of God.

I’ve also had days where all the traffic lights were green and I got the coffee/creamer mix just right and I was in rare form at work.

On those days, I need the grace of God.

There’s not a day that will ever go by where I don’t need grace.

My advice for those of you reading this. You need grace every day, so give grace every day.

Social media these days is filled with vindictiveness and spiteful words, mostly along the lines of my side is right, therefore yours must be evil and wrong and stupid.

Buck the trend by showing and giving grace to everyone, even those on the other side of the political aisle who say things you don’t agree with.

Give grace because you may one day need it from someone else.

Give grace because you have already received it in abundance from the God of all Grace.

I love grace because it comes to me when I don’t deserve it and is always more than I expected and always leaves me better than when it found me.

That’s God’s way. That’s grace.

 

That’s Country!

garth-brooks

Growing up, I had a list of “never”s.

By that I mean I had a list of things I’d just about rather die than be caught doing.

I don’t really recall most of them at this point, but I do remember a few highlights.

I specifically recall that I’d never 1) listen to country music, 2) drink coffee, or 3) put hot sauce on anything.

It’s probably best never to say never.

The hot sauce ban ended shortly after the Wasabi incident (where that Wasabi glob on my plate looked an awful lot like guacamole– but it wasn’t).

The no-coffee rule lasted until I had to be at work super early and I needed the caffeine to pry my eyes open in order to work more effectively.

The country music? It turns out that what I didn’t like was pop music masquerading as country music. I heard George Jones sing “The Grand Tour” and that was that. I’m now a fan of genuine country music– along with folk, jazz, rock, indie, and just about every other genre you can think of (and a few that defy categorization).

Recently, I picked up the Garth Brooks box set, exclusive to Target, called The Ultimate Collection.

There was a time when I would have rather had red hot pokers thrust into my eye sockets than listen to Garth, but times have changed.

I’m about halfway through the 10-CD set and I have to confess that I’m loving it. He’s the real deal.

My point (and I do have one) is to not close yourself off to new experiences because they’re different or outside of your comfort zone.

Take risks and be spontaneous on occasion.

Try to live and be present in every moment instead of always living for the weekend or the next holiday or the next big event in your life.

And that Garth Brooks collection is on sale at Target for $23. It’s a bargain.

http://www.target.com/p/garth-brooks-the-ultimate-collection-target-exclusive/-/A-51666650

Just a Reminder: November 2016 Edition

I wanted to pass out a quick reminder before I pass out for the night: err on the side of grace, especially now during this intense (and ridiculous) election season.

No matter who they voted for, show grace. Even if they voted for the “enemy”, show grace.

Remember that you were once the enemy that God so loved and that Jesus died for so that you who were far away and without hope could be brought near and shown mercy.

For good or ill, the election ends in 6 days. We still have to live with each other. Even politics is no excuse for disobedience to Jesus in terms of loving each other.

If you’re a sports team and your team wins, show grace. If your team loses, show grace. People remember what you said and how you acted long after the games and scores have been forgotten.

So in case you missed the main point, here it is again: err on the side of grace.

That’s it. Short and to the point.

Good night out there. May God’s grace keep and sustain you in these coming days.