The Gift of Limits

The following is an article that Temple Semenary graciously invited me to submit for publication in the Aletheias Theological Journal. If you’d like to read the journal click here.

We are living in a day in our country and culture when there is as much uncertainty and fear as any time this generation has ever known. It is a generation of rhetoric. Truth has been relegated to post-modern relativity while political leaders have learned, since truth is relative, if you repeat something enough times, someone will believe it to be true—even when the person declaring it knows it to be false. What is all this causing? More than a divided country, it is also causing an unwillingness to try. Why? Because, in our day, if you try to do anything worth doing, it will be adjudicated in the court of public opinion, which for many is a frightening prospect.

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The “Amazing” of grace – My personal thanks

The Amazing of Grace.001

Have you ever struggled to say thank you? I don’t mean struggled as in the inability to say “thank you,” but struggled in how to go about saying thank you? Struggled to find a way that is adequate? I find myself in that place. (I don’t know who all I need to thank but want to reach everyone in some way. And, I don’t want to post an annoyingly long Facebook post. You’re welcome for that).

So, here’s how I want to attempt to say thank you properly:

I’ve been so pleasantly and unexpectedly reminded of grace and why grace is so amazing.

When John Newton wrote his famous hymn he was definitely right about something, grace is amazing. What makes grace so amazing? It’s amazing because it can’t be earned or expected. Grace is a gift that comes when you’re not looking. Grace lifts your spirits even when you didn’t know you were down. Grace is salve to places you didn’t know were burning. Grace is, in a word, amazing.

As a pastor I speak much about grace, specifically God’s grace, and spend much time trying to deliberately extend and give grace. But, sometimes I can forget how much of a recipient of grace I actually am.

So often, I see the struggle; so often I am confronted with hatred, betrayal, struggle, abandonment and it can become easy, though I constantly preach grace to forget to “see” grace. God’s grace is always at work in my life through Him directly and through others who extend it. To make sure I remember that, every now and then God gives me reminders as He did so well this past weekend through you.

So, here’s my “thank you” to those who were such a blessing to me and my family this weekend. What you did was an incredible act of grace during a time of trial. I know that our personal trial was something that all of you encounter in your lives too. I also know that you were not obligated in any way to bless us as you did. Yet, you were an incredible blessing to us, it was completely unexpected and we are overwhelmed.

In doing so you reminded me again of how God’s grace works. Unmerited, unexpected and extended purely out of love.

You have reminded us of your love for us; you have been a picture of God’s unfailing love for us; and, you have reminded us of God’s amazing grace toward us. Thank you!

I leave you with one of my favorite New Testament verses:

“For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother(s) [and sisters], because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.” (Philemon 7)

Thank you!