Tag Archives: grace

Online Abuse

I’m not feeling quiet today.

I just wanted to say a word about cyber bullying. I was witness to some pretty horrific cyber bullying on Twitter today, strangers hurling abuse on someone I don’t know (and happen to disagree with), and it made me think…

It’s so easy to throw darts at strangers, isn’t it? Especially ones we disagree with?

Let’s even go so far to say that they are, in factfundamentally wrong in some of their thinking. That, of course, gives us the right to write them off as a moron, and thus, it’s okay to throw all kinds of abuse in their direction, right? If they are wrong about ONE thing, that gives us the right to strip them of their God-given humanity and verbally set them on fire – am I right?

No. Of course not.

Now, think of a time when you’ve been wrong about something. I can think of many things I’ve been wrong about in pretty short order.

Does that fact that you and I have been wrong about things mean that our human cards should be taken from us? Does it mean that we should be beaten down? Kicked? Taught a lesson?

Or does it mean that we, like all other humans, are in need of some grace?

Let’s all agree to take it easy on people. Because they are people – just like we are. It’s no more complicated than that.

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It is finished. Really.

I mentioned in my last blog post that I’ve been discovering joy.

And now I’m going to share why.

As a kid I was taught some weird theology by some very well meaning Christians at church and in the private school where I attended 1st thru 3rd grade.

Lesson 1: When you sin, there is a stain on your spiritual heart, even as a believer. Like, an actual spot.

One of my teachers used this idea as a way to enforce discipline in her classroom. Each kid had a representative construction paper heart on the bulletin board, and if you did something right, you’d get a happy smiley sticker on your heart, and if you did something wrong, you’d get a dark spot sticker. Some kids had all smileys, some kids had all dark spots, and some kids had a combo of both.

The subconscious lesson I picked up from all this isn’t hard to figure out: when I sinned, I had gunk on my heart until I begged God’s forgiveness (like the kids who earned dark spots for such egregious things as talking too much in class). And if I did good stuff, I would get extra points with God (like the smiley face kids). And in my mind, I kind of figured that kids who had a combo of dark spots and smileys eventually canceled out if the numbers of both were equal.

Lesson learned: Works based faith.

Lesson 2: This one Iearned in Sunday school. When you sin, as a Christian you have to ask God’s forgiveness. Until you do, you aren’t forgiven. And I remember one teacher specifically telling me that you couldn’t just pray a blanket prayer at the end of the day that said “God, please forgive me of all my sins.” You had to account for all of them specifically.

This left me wondering, of course, what would happen if I forgot something.

This also left me with the impression that every prayer needed a lot of specificity, as though God was a strict, supernatural lawyer looking for loopholes in my prayers. So I ended up praying prayers for protection at night that went something like this:

“Dear God, please protect us from burglars, murderers, airplanes crashing into the house while we sleep…etc.” I’m not exaggerating. These prayers would go on and on. Because you know, God was just waiting for a loophole so he could kill us while we slept: “You didn’t pray for protection from rabid llamas! GOTCHA! SEND IN THE RABID LLAMAS!!!”

Lesson learned: Works based faith + God is mean and wants to kill us with rabid llamas.

I was not a very happy Christian growing up. I had the distinct sense that something was wrong, but didn’t have the theological know-how or the confidence to figure out why I felt that way.

Recently, that’s begun to change as I’m learning what the grace of God really means.

The grace of God means this: Jesus paid the price for my sins once and for all on the cross. Which means that when I accepted him, I accepted that gift.

What does that mean?

It means that there are no stains on my heart and there never will be. It means that God doesn’t want to crash a plane into my house while I sleep because I forgot to pray for protection against it. It means that I don’t have to ask forgiveness for anything.

Okay, that last sentence is freaking some of you out. I have to explain here.

You know what asking forgiveness is?

It’s trying to get yourself re-saved.

If you’re a believer, you’re already saved and already forgiven for everything you’ve ever done or ever will do. When Jesus said “IT IS FINISHED,” he meant it.

Asking for forgiveness at this point is redundant.

I truly am beginning to believe that most Christians don’t believe that their salvation is sure, and on some subconscious level have a fervent belief that their actions can save or un-save them.

Wrong:

John 3:16

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

(Notice that it doesn’t say “whoever believes in him and begs for forgiveness all the time and lives under perpetual, humble guilt.”)

Romans 8:38

 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

NOTHING can separate us.

Ephesians 2:8

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.

That one’s pretty straightforward.

So here’s my challenge to us (I say “us” because I still ask forgiveness all the time, and I’m going to do this with you):

When we sin, no more asking forgiveness from the Lord. Instead, here’s what we will say:

“It is finished.”

or

“Thank you for already forgiving me.”

Whichever you prefer.

And then we’ll stop doing whatever crap we were just doing and go do something more constructive.

That’s it.

I leave you with the words of Joseph Prince, from his book about grace called “Destined to Reign”:

“All records of your sins have been incinerated by the blood of Jesus when he cried out, “It is finished!” His blood has removed the sins of your entire life. When God looks at you today, he sees you covered with Jesus’ blood and completely righteous.”

Hebrews 8:12

“For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”

Now, go enjoy your life. It’s okay; God’s not going to crash an airplane into your house.

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10 things: a snapshot of me right now

Who am I right now?

I am:

1. An excited student of grace (more on that later)

2. Discovering deep, genuine joy

3. A job hunter

4. An interviewee

5. A writer

6. A lover of vegan chocolate (this place is incredible) [edit: I’ve changed the link to the Yelp entry, as their actual site seems to be having issues.]

7. A coffee addict (no plans to cut back at present)

8. A wife who is an equal partner

9. A sister and daughter to two of the best families on the planet

10. A tiny bit sick, but taking zinc and drinking vitamin C (fingers crossed)

Who are you right now? 10 things. Go.

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Into the light

Something I’ve been thinking about for a long time.

Regarding the process of redemption. Of getting out of sin and addiction. The hardest part of it all is to start stopping.

Because what keeps people in sin is often shame. Loneliness. The illusion that if anyone knew what you were doing, what you were thinking, they’d hate you for it as much as you hate yourself.

So we keep doing it.

And we keep feeling horrible.

And we can’t tell anyone.

Because nobody else does this. Nobody else thinks this. Nobody else is as isolated as we are.

And yes, I am talking about porn. It’s time to start talking about it.

So, to break things down:

  1. We’re doing something wrong.
  2. We’re too ashamed to talk about it.
  3. We think we’re alone.
  4. So we keep doing it. Because there’s no way out.

But the idea that you’re alone is entirely a lie. Because lots of people are trapped in this cycle of shame and addiction. So, so many. In church and out.

You have so much company, and a community of people who have broken this addiction and are ready and waiting to receive you, to help you out of it.

Here’s some truth: this thing, this secret thing that so few churches have talked about up until recently, it can’t survive the light. It needs shame and secrecy to thrive. But once you ask God for forgiveness and help – he’ll flood those dark places with light. He is dying to pour his mercy out on you. How it hurts him when you hurt yourself. And he is waiting, just waiting for you to say the word.

Because he knows that sin brought into the light cannot survive.

It won’t die down all at once, the need, the desire of this addiction. But telling someone you trust is the beginning.

You have so much company. So much support waiting to be given.

From friends who may have the same struggle. From the spouse or significant other who loves you.

You are not, I repeat, not alone.

You are not dirty.

You are not beyond repair.

Christ can fix anything. Christ can make all things new.

Tell somebody: start stopping today.

Today is your day.

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Be loved

Awhile back, I wrote the following post:

Not much to say tonight…except this:

Claim grace.

It’s extended to all of us, but we don’t always take it.

We have to punish ourselves first. Make sure we earn that forgiveness.

But then…we’re trapped.

You know what keeps Christians from being effective? Refusing forgiveness. Bowing our heads to the ground. Crawling, scraping, trying earn our way back to the Father. (As if we need to!)

And while we do that, we are utterly and completely focused on ourselves. No good to anyone else.

So yeah, you did that thing. Whatever it was.

Ask forgiveness, get over yourself, and start being useful again. Get back out there.

That’s all.

After writing this and reading back over it, I had a thought.

Christians are often perceived as graceless, and more concerned with finding fault than extending love.

Why is that?

It’s discordant with the Bible. Jesus summed up the two greatest commandments when he said that we were to love God with everything we have and to love our neighbor as ourselves.

But what if we don’t actually believe that God loves us?

Maybe most of us don’t, not in our heart of hearts. At the very least, we have significant trouble accepting it. I know that I do, because I daily prosecute myself for my thoughts and actions.

But there’s a bad, bad consequence to this kind of thinking:

If we are consumed with finding fault in ourselves and refusing to accept grace until we have sufficiently done whatever penance seems right to us (self loathing, mental flogging, etc.), we are going to project that mindset onto others.

If we prosecute ourselves, then yes, we will prosecute others.

However, those who accept grace are far more likely to extend it. Learning to love others begins with accepting love from God.

So accept it.

I hope you all have a fantastic week.

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