Whether you are leading the crowd, following the crowd or standing in the midst of the crowd, there is comfort in hanging with the crowd. They are our people – and we feel safe and secure in their midst. It may be the crowd at our workplace, our neighborhood, our church, or wherever we hang out. The crowd is familiar with who we are, and we are familiar with who they are. We have history together – perhaps lifelong. It can be a frightening thing to leave the crowd.
But often, God calls us to do just that. He calls us to go on a journey with Him. He leads us to climb a mountain with Him – to a place or a height that we have never been before. And that climb frequently involves leaving the crowd behind – either temporarily or in some instances, permanently.
Jesus repeatedly called people to leave where they were and follow Him. And invariably He told them to climb a little higher, go a little further and draw a little closer. In the Old Testament, we often see God telling Moses to do so….
i don’t know about you, but the phrase “the scandal of grace” sounds contradictory and discordant to me. As regular readers of this blog are aware, i often include the lyrics of contemporary worship songs in my posts. i have oft said that i believe worship songs – whether they be traditional or contemporary – are the outpouring of the deep beliefs we hold in our hearts toward the One who alone is worthy of our worship.
Like the psalmists, the expressions of our hearts in worship are best conveyed through our “heart songs”. They are a reflection of the gripping truth our Lord God Creator has kneaded into our lives. But sometimes the expressions we use in pouring out our heart songs can be jarring. Another example i wrote about several months ago is the idea that God’s love could ever be considered to be reckless (“Reckless Love”).
We would readily agree that God’s grace is amazing and that His grace is enough. By its definition, grace is the unmerited favor and love that God freely extends to us. And we must quickly add that though His grace is free to us, it cost Him dearly. It cost Him the shed blood of His Son. His grace is precious. His grace is beyond our comprehension. So how can His grace be scandalous?
We have all missed the mark! Each and every one of us has stumbled and made wrong turns. Sometimes we feel like we’re the only one who has failed. Sometimes we have the false notion that everyone else has their act together. But the reality is that nothing could be further from the truth. The apostle Paul reminds us that “all have sinned and fallen short” (Romans 3:23).
The question is not “if” we have stumbled, but rather, what we do when we have stumbled. How do we view ourselves in that moment, as well as in the moments that follow – and more importantly, how do we view God? Are we too ashamed to turn to Him? Have we allowed our guilt and shame to distort our view of Him? Are we allowing our shame to keep us from experiencing His unbreakable grace, mercy and love?
There is a somewhat obscure reference in the resurrection account of Jesus in the Gospels. If i was to ask you to whom Jesus appeared on the day of His resurrection from the tomb, you would probably respond with a familiar list….
Today is August 28th, also known as 8-28. For me this day is an annual reminder of the promise of God found in the book of Romans. There Paul writes:
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28 ESV).
For me it is one of the most powerful promises that God has given us. It is a promise that is not only true on this day of the year; it is a promise that is true every moment of every day. It was true before time began and it will forever be true.
It is a promise that remains true even when we don’t recognize it. It remains true in good times and bad. It is true in life and in death. It is true in health and in illness. It is true in prosperity and in poverty. It is true in the sunshine and the storms….
This week has been filled with special memories for our family. Our second grandson was born at 6:09AM Sunday morning. All seven pounds fourteen ounces of him! i can’t think of a better way to start a week than to welcome a new life into your family.
Kenton was scheduled to arrive on Tuesday. The doctor was scheduled. The delivery room was reserved. Our daughter’s bag was packed. But someone forgot to tell our grandson. But no fear – he didn’t arrive early. He arrived right on time! It was the rest of us that were off on our calendars.
My wife and i received that middle of the night call and quickly made the two hour drive to be here. As we were driving, the song “Jesus Will Still Be There” (lyrics below) by Selah came up on my playlist.
As i listened to the lyrics of the song, i couldn’t help but be struck by this idea. “Kenton, today is the first day of your life outside the womb. And if there was one word i would tell you and your older brother to hold onto every moment of every day of your life, it would be just that – Jesus will still be there….