By: James Gordon
How do we pray for a world impatient with mercy? How do we answer anger with understanding and make respect and compassion more persuasive than grievance and resentment?
By: Leroy Seat
Ten years ago, a man entered an Amish school and shot 10 girls, killing five and leaving one with a severe brain injury. The Amish community's response of grace and forgiveness is a lesson for all.
By: Colin Harris
The coals of fear, ignorance and prejudice flame up to produce expressions of contempt on the public stage and in private conversations. We need "Amazing Grace" more than ever.
By: Christina Embree
A blog post titled "I Am Josh Duggar" is circling social media. But the truth is many Christians are not Josh Duggar. While society and churches focus on 'big' sins, those 'little' sins we dismiss separate us from God, too.
By: Ron Rolheiser
Too often, many Christians are embittered moralizers, secretly envying the amoral and criticizing our world out of bitterness. It's an occupational hazard for the good and faithful. Is it tripping you up?
We serve a generous God, who extravagantly invested in all human beings by sending God’s Son Jesus to earth. Some received him and grew. Many rejected him and even crucified him. But out of that death and failure, God raised him up so that humanity is offered the extraordinary returns of eternal life. We who are worshippers of this God and this Jesus are now invited to join in the extravagant sowing of the seed of God’s Word. In so doing, we are not defined by a fear of failure, but by a faith that God will provide extraordinary returns in growing God’s Kingdom.
By: Guy Sayles
Two groups, mere yards apart, might have been in different worlds. One fueled by anger, the other by happiness. Similarly, Jesus is an entry to a truer world within ours. One inhabited by grace, mercy, love and joy.
Here, we see the scandal of God’s grace. It is a grace that humbles those who exalt themselves, and exalts those who are humble. In this parable, Jesus reminds us once again that we are never so righteous as to be beyond the need for God’s mercy, and we are never so wretched as to be beyond the reach of God’s grace.
We know about the horrific injustices of how our consumerism is kept afloat, and yet most of the time we don't care enough to let it affect our rampant consuming.
Will D. Campbell, who died last month at 89, was hailed as a maverick. His novel, "The Glad River," deals with the themes of grace and undeserved and unreserved forgiveness.
Grace sets us free from false identity – Grace sets us free from exile – Grace sets us free from our spiritual poverty – Grace invites us to keep in step with the Spirit in order to join in the feast as one family. This is the good news at the heart of Galatians, God’s Gracebook. There is freedom in grace. Believe it. Receive it. Live it.
Why is Paul foaming at the mouth at the Galatians? Because they feel like his own children, children for whom (he is) again in the pain of childbirth until Christ is formed in (them) (4:19). Paul labored mightily to give birth to committed Christ-followers in Galatia, and thought he had succeeded. Now, he’s watching his Galatian children desert the gospel and the God behind the gospel, trading away their freedom in Christ for slavery to the Old Testament Law.
We can come to terms with the fact that whether it’s poverty or hunger or illness or death itself, the great God stands with us and wants to accept the gift of life as a precious gift of grace. We’re to take our gift of life and share it as we live and breathe and have our being. “Grace given, grace received” all the way through the arc of our lives.
Grace has often been defined as the unmerited, undeserved favor of God, and that is certainly true. But many preachers, myself included, have often tailored our messages about grace to pander to our audience. Alas, Paul’s testimony of grace this morning will not let me preach such a message today.
. Grace reminds us that we do not deserve Christ’s offering of himself for us. Grace instructs us that we cannot earn God’s rescue from this evil age. Grace humbles us to concede that we cannot dictate the will of God the Father. All we can do is to recognize that we need forgiveness of our sin, we need rescue from this evil age, and we need to surrender our lives so that “not my will, but God’s will be done.”
God is appealing to us, imploring us, pleading with us. God calls us to come and receive from God what cannot be bought, sold, or stolen—restoration. We've been invited by God to a banquet although we have no way to pay the admission price. We've been invited to healing even though we have no health insurance or money to pay the healer. We've been invited. We've been invited. We've been invited.
The message of God’s word long before we get to Jesus’ death is that our lives really are all about grace, all about mercy. That we exist at all is a gift of grace. That we have air to breathe, and lungs to breathe with is a work of God’s mercy. Every moment of every day is grounded God’s love and grace.
It is all about grace. God loves us because he chooses to. God extends his mercy and forgiveness to us, not because we deserve it, but because that is the way his heart is. God loves us still because of his grace.
On this day of baptism, we are invited to remember Jesus’ baptism and our own. We are invited to jump into the deep end of the waters of faith and be a follower of Jesus.
Thank God for the Church, not because we are faithful, but because God is faithful, who has called us into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
God invites us into a "life forever" relationship with divine grace and truth that will challenge and change the world.
When difficulties come our way, we don’t know how we’re going to stand it. Somehow, in his infinite and patient understanding and grace, God sees us through it.
All we often hear from the news has to do with the Herods and Assads of our world. But slowly, imperceptibly, somehow, in the mystery and patience of God, the grace and mercy that comes only from God is seeping through the microscopic cracks of our world to redeem people like you and me.
Grace rises to confront the wind and waves of our overwhelming circumstances. Grace rises to speak peace to our trembling and frustrated spirits.
The way we treat others says a tremendous amount about the way we treat God.
We're called by Jesus to embody God's grace and truth as servants! Suffering people are waiting and hoping. Let's meet them in the prayerful power of God's Spirit so they can renew their strength.
So we expect Jesus to voice the highest, and we also understand Christ to be full of grace, ready to receive us when we fail. His grace is sufficient for our every need.
While we work hard at protecting our innermost secrets, here comes God invading our privacy, knowing more about us than we even know ourselves.
God's Spirit is calling us, through the life of Jesus and the discipleship of Barnabas and others, into living that is "sold out" to the generosity produced by God's grace.
God is still graciously calling for laborers.
If Jesus is to be taken seriously—and certainly people who claim to follow him should do so—controlling "weeds of worry and illusions about getting more and wanting everything under the sun" is important.
Sometimes we think the loving thing to do is to tell people what they want to hear. No, this is not the loving thing to do, but the easy thing to do. True love doesn’t have cataracts. It sees clearly and shares what it sees, even if painful, for the purpose of redeeming and healing the offender.
We each begin life at pedestrian morality. God calls us, woos us, and welcomes us to "higher ground" where grace and truth can take root, grow, mature, and become fruitful.
Nearly everyone was abuzz about Christina Aguilera's flubbing of the national anthem during the Super Bowl. Why do we take such secret delight in the very public failures of others?
If you have the courage to look back and trace the journey of your life, I think that for the most part your testimony would be that your life is not only good but it is better for the way you’ve done it. In fact, had your life turned out the way you planned it, chances are it wouldn’t be nearly as good as it really is.
As Christians, God calls us to be people of conviction. God calls us to be discerning people. God calls us to know right and wrong and to persevere in our faith. We are supposed to know where the line is drawn, but there is a tension here.
“Surely, this was a righteous man.” Even the most jaded person could not ignore what happened that day.
A true worshipper, saved by God’s grace, realizes he has escaped catastrophe because of God’s goodness. Such a worshipper comes as Noah did, to declare dependence upon God thorough sacrificial worship.
Cain and Abel were brothers. They played together as children. They built forts. They swam together. They had carved into the same tree. They’d always been racing and competing with one another. They were brothers – they were rivals and friends.
In the perfect game that wasn't, Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga and veteran umpire Jim Joyce became baseball heroes for showing us how to be responsible adult human beings.
Despite their rarity in professional sports, every now and again, there is a bright and shining moment that provides us with a fleeting glimpse of all-too-rare goodness. A Detroit Tigers game revealed several moments of grace.
Honesty and transparency are rarely encouraged in the clergy world, and that's a huge problem. While trained to see the faults of those around us, ministers struggle with the ability to reflect on our own lives critically.
The notion of grace and forgiveness is uniquely divine, but we give a human twist to grace. We take that which is free and liberating and make it cost something.
Grace is a kind of mercy that we in the church have had a notoriously difficult time handling. We’ve taken that which is free and we’ve made it something to earn. It’s sad in a way because we first come to God seeking forgiveness and the desire to be whole. And then, after experiencing the liberation that only God can bring, we go out and get lost all over again.
How different would you be if you really turned God’s grace loose in your life, like Paul did? If you fully embraced His grace, or more appropriately, if you were fully embraced by it, how would it change you?
What we are finally left with is what every child is left with... the need for mercy and forgiveness, the knowledge that in our imperfect world, inhabited by flawed people such as ourselves, the law is not the final word. With God, grace is always the bottom line. And aren’t you glad for that?
Some ministers are quick to see God's judgment in calamity, but they work from an incomplete picture of God. As a result, they teach too many people to live under God's scorn rather than his grace.
I once was blind but now I see. I am sure I don’t see perfectly, but I do know that what God reveals to me in Christ is the truth, the way, and the life. May we pray for the sight to always see as God sees.
When we hunger for that grace, God does a magical thing. God reaches down into the very depths of our hearts and lifts us up above the cares and difficulties we encounter, and enters our personal wildernesses. And in that moment, we are offered something to eat, something that will never perish. I encourage you to accept this grace as if it were your very last meal, for in it you will find the Living Bread. And if you accept it, you will never hunger again.
Hope in God's grace gives us strength to love bruised, battered, and oppressed people. That hope gives us strength to challenge entrenched forces of injustice and oppression. Hope in God's grace lifts us when we fall, strengthens us in times of weakness, quiets our trembling hearts, and gives redemptive meaning to our efforts. When we live in the power of God's grace with that kind of hope, we are more than witnesses about God's grace. We are, like Martin King and so many hopeful soldiers of faith, partners with Christ, and instruments of God's gracious purpose to redeem people and the world from the depths of sin. Amen.
There’s a sense in which you and I ourselves are living in a story within a story. We haven’t reached the final word of grace... not yet. That final word has yet to be written. But in the meantime, we are to be like the disciples who go out and minister in Christ’s name... with a hammer or paint brush in our hand, with just a smile or an encouraging word for those who so desperately need it. There is no guarantee that we won’t be confronted by our present-day Herods. The only assurance – but it is assurance enough – is that God will be with us every step of the way.
Ministry is contagious. There is nothing as fulfilling and meaningful as helping someone who is struggling. There is nothing as inspirational, either. Whose story inspired you? Who has been inspired by your story? I am convinced that you will have the opportunity to write another chapter this week. Make it a good one.
Don’t we all need to come today – not like the Pharisee, with poisonous pride, but like the tax-gatherer, with brokenness and with contrite hearts, receiving the justification that comes from a spirit of humility and the acknowledgment of the need for a Savior.
The 2009 BMW 535i xDrive Sport Wagon costs $72,000-plus. It makes sense that something created for good works will come with high costs. The writer of Ephesians appreciated that truth.
There is not enough money to solve all the world’s problems, but there is enough God. There is not enough time to accomplish all we hope in life, but there is enough God. There are not enough resources to guarantee we will never experience the loss of key relationships, but there is enough God.
When Fuller arrived in heaven on Wednesday, what do you think the Lord said to him? Do you think it is possible that He whispered in his ear as He gave him a big hug, “Thank you, Millard, for not getting too comfortable?” I do.
Even as we speak of discipleship as costly, we must also view it as liberating. The call to the two sets of brothers to leave what they know, what gave them comfort and security, is at the same time a call to find liberation and hope in something that is transformative.
God who kept making allowances for Jonah until he finally did the right thing is our God. This story is our story. And this past momentous week is the newest chapter of God’s patient call to us to see and do the grace of God ourselves.