A gardener’s work is never done, much like a mother’s work — only less urgent and important. When we finally have a flower bed or vegetable plot just the way we want it, things happen to change it. Often, however, the change is for the better!
We are all familiar with the sentiment, “Please be patient with me. God isn’t finished with me yet.”
We understand that when it comes to our own failings and shortfalls, but do we really put that idea into practice as we deal with others? Continue reading “Unfinished business”
Grace presents us with one great demand.
I know it seems strange to see the words “demand” and “grace” in the same sentence. Usually we view grace as the means by which we gain acceptance by God without carrying out works of the law. After all, as Paul reminds us, by “works of the law no one will be justified” (Galatians 2:16).
Many try to earn their salvation. Continue reading “Grace’s one great demand”
Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount” in Matthew chapters five, six and seven is wholly original. Nothing like it had ever been preached before. While Pharisees and scribes almost always cited Old Testament references for their lesson points, Jesus used the Old Testament in a different way.
Six times in Matthew chapter five the phrases, “it was said,” and “but, I say to you,” were given by the Lord. Jesus was showing the truth of the Bible’s teachings in contrast to the narrow, limited and often mistaken applications of Jewish leaders. Continue reading ““The Real McCoy””
“If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell…” (Matthew 5:29-30; see also: Mark 9:43-47).
Would you be surprised to learn that heaven will cost you an arm and a leg? And maybe even an eye?
I believe the above passage presents a great – indeed, an insurmountable – difficulty for those who believe that we incur no cost in our own salvation. Does our obedience to the gospel turn God’s grace into a payment for services rendered? Continue reading “Are you pulling my leg (off)?”
We know the message and it comforts our hearts. In his grace God pours out salvation upon us, the undeserving. We can be redeemed, made holy and adopted as God’s people because our salvation rests upon Christ, not our righteousness. Furthermore, the cleansing power of the Messiah’s blood is greater than any sin we might bring to him.
So, how compatible is grace with the command to make every effort to live up to God’s calling? If we feel like these are opposing ideas, we would not be alone. Continue reading “Grace & making effort: Are they compatible?”
If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me (John 13:8)
I was adopted when I was about 18 months old. Was I worthy of that? How could I be? How could I have earned such an act?
Peter felt unworthy to have Jesus wash his feet. It was completely out of order for Jesus to stoop down and wash Peter’s feet. Peter was unworthy.
Jesus did it anyway. He even warned Peter not to refuse him. Continue reading “Unworthy, but worth it”
Walk through a shopping mall. Randomly ask people what Jesus can do for their lives. If people are willing to chat, what would they say? For those who know something about Christ, the predominant answer would likely relate to salvation.
To be sure, the good news about Christ crucified centers upon salvation. However if we limit salvation’s impact to being rescued from our sins and becoming God’s people, we will overlook a massive component of God’s work on our behalf.
Continue reading “The impact of salvation: more than just forgiveness”
Sadly, we argue and divide over the proper understanding of grace to the detriment of the Lord’s work. Instead, we should see it from God’s perspective, so we can move past our human frailties. Continue reading “Grace simplified from God’s perspective”
Did I just get this phrase backward? No, I think not.
Today I am digging a white Datura for an elderly lady in our church who admired it from one of my photos. She mentioned that she would love to grow these fragrant plants again. Her yard help accidentally mowed hers down several years ago. She did offer me an iris that she said she didn’t think I had, but I laughed and said, “I have ALL the irises!”
It will be so nice to put a smile on the beautiful face of this sweet lady, and for her to have something that brings back good memories for her. Continue reading “Pay it backward”
Here it is, the middle of April, and my poor little tomato is at risk again. I’m not a gambler by nature, really. I like to play it safe. But the stakes are high when we are talking beefsteaks. Well, beefsteak tomatoes, that is.
A month ago in mid-March it was so mild that my mind went back to the year we had a tomato ripen in April. It would have tasted better the first or second day of May, but we couldn’t resist the feeling of being able to say, “We ate our first tomato in April.”
Do you see what I did there? Maybe another column will deal with boasting, but for today it will be ignored. Continue reading “He’s got you covered!”