Grace Beyond Eggs & Peeps

I’ve claimed to be a devout Christian before. The height of my claim came in high school when, for a few months, at least, I was set on the decision to attend a Seventh-Day Adventist college and major in Theology to become a pastor. For the most part, my spiritual life has been hit and miss since then.

The past couple years, however, brought about a growing acceptance of the concept of God’s grace. Essentially, there is nothing that I could do, or have ever done, to earn God’s love and acceptance. This realization has brought me closer to him than I’ve ever been or ever could become by learning to quote from the many writings of Ellen G. White or by refraining from doing the wrong thing on the sabbath (two big emphases of the Adventist church). Both of my hands are empty and free to serve now that I set my score card down.

My realization of the profound consequences of Grace on my personal life, has developed a greater appreciation of the events that the Christian Easter season celebrates. I grew up, as many kids do, coming out to the living room on Easter Sunday to find an Easter basket full of candy, treats, and usually a toy. The Peeps were my favorite. This was before they became available for every other holiday. I’m talking about the marshmallow, sugar-coated, yellow, pink, and purple chicks and bunnies. I still love them!

Sure, I was familiar with something related to Jesus being resurrected (or something like that), but, that was all on the periphery. My main focus when I was a kid was the candy, the oversized rabbit that stands on two legs at the mall, and egg hunts. Even in my mid-twenties I didn’t grasp the significance of “Good Friday,” as many people called it.

Last night I participated in a Thursday evening communion service in which we focused on commemorating Christ’s last supper with his disciples in the upper room. I’ve been focusing on this event in my personal readings over the past week as well. To me, this is where the truest character of Jesus is revealed. From the revelation that John the disciple reclined at the table with his head resting on the chest of Jesus, to the fact that the Messiah disrobed, wrapped his clothing around his waist, and washed each of his followers’ feet.

Though he knew he was about to suffer the greatest pain known to man, Christ spent this evening breaking bread with his betrayer, and providing food, wisdom, and comfort to his disciples. On the eve of the day when He would experience the greatest mental, physical and spiritual struggle to touch mankind, Jesus provided rest to his disciples and served even those who would, later that night, betray and deny him.

The next day he was unjustly executed. Three days later, on resurrection Sunday, he served all mankind by tying the knot of grace that binds, to Him, those who accept his generous invitation to eat with Him in His kingdom.

The hope and peace of my life rests on these events.

“Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved.” John 13:23

3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, 4 rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. 5 After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.” John 13:3-5

Real World Jesus

Above all of the politics, theology, denominations, and technicalities is the demand by Jesus that we love God with all our beings and that we love others as we love ourselves. We won’t know God truly until we are bent backward in service to others as in a way that denies our own existence. I, for one, have plenty of room for growth in that regard.

Life Preserver

My legs are uselessly weak after trying to kick free from this demon up to this very moment
The fork of my freedom remains
Her back to the Light that shines on the dark
The dark that has been redeemed by the Light
But, because I cried, “Lord, save me,”
“Immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand,”
He caught me
Though the demons goad me
I remain
Floating on a sea of grace

From Matthew  14:25 KJV

And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I, be not afraid. And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boysterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased.

Love Forward

The past still haunts me from time to time
My eyes drift away from His gaze
I feel my legs sinking below the surface
But, He went to such lengths to forgive
Here I stand too desensitized to notice
The me that catches my own backward glance
Is not the self that wrestles today
Lord God Almighty Christ
Infuse my muscles with enough holy power
To kick free from this wheezing demon
And dash forward carried by the fire of grace
Grant me the faith to not look back
But to love forward

Morning Coffee With Jesus

I believe that it must have been easier to live as a Christian prior to modern times. There are so many distractions that divert our attention from what is real and true. I know that I am at my worst when prayer and devotion hasn’t been a high priority in my life. This is not to say that with prayer and devotion I am invincible. Far from it! But when I keep my eyes on Him who is invincible, my Faith is proven to have been well placed.

When He came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed Him. A man with leprosy came and knelt before Him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus reached out His hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” He said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cured of his leprosy. Matthew 8:1-3

Finding Life Through Sacrifice

The beauty of God is the grace of God. The splendor of life as a follower of Christ is the utter humility that Jesus has called us to live in. To sacrifice personal gratification in favor of truth in giving is favorable to He who gave all for us. To do so when nobody is watching is to live as Jesus called us to. It is a perspective that runs counter to the predominant sentiment of our culture. While the reality of our self-centered nature often wins out over the ideal of putting first what is right and good, it is an ideal that is reflective of His character and an ideal that, by His grace, we are able to meet through Him.

It Is Well With My Soul

I was vaguely familiar with this hymn when I was younger. The weight of it hit me full force, however, when, as a 30 year old prodigal, I finally found peace with Jesus through discovery of His grace. The version of the song that woke me up was from the Jars of Clay album “Redemption Songs.” I’ve heard it done by a few others since then (e.g. Rebecca St. James, Jeremy Camp), but, not done nearly as effectively in my opinion.

To me the significance of this hymn is the realization of the reality of complete forgiveness that is available to us if we simply ask. I now am able recognize the joy that our Abba experiences when we finally return home. While the weather of life on Earth will continue for a time, I can hold fast for the time when, “The trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend.”

It is well with my soul.

It is Well With My Soul

(1) When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,When sorrows like sea billows roll-Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,It is well, it is well with my soul.

CHORUS: It is well with my soul,it is well, it is well with my soul.

(2) My sin- O the joy of this glorious thought-My sin, not in part, but the whole,Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more:Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

(3) And, Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,The clouds be rolled back as a scroll:The trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend,”Even so”- it is well with my soul.