Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Positing on Grace

I have been thinking about grace a lot lately.  In fact, I have been meaning to write my thoughts on it about two weeks ago but I allowed other things to consume my time and attention. Naturally, I suppose it's best to start with a definition of what I mean by grace.  I looked at a few definitions but none of them really fit what I am talking about. They are not bad definitions by any means but it also isn't quite what I had in mind. So here is what I've come up with in hopes of simple clarification.

Grace - Unearned, undeserved, and unachievable favor granted to another because of a genuine love held for that other.

I kept the divine out of my definition because I do believe it is possible for someone to show this grace to another; usually it goes hand in hand with mercy but evidence does exist.  However, I am referring specifically to the divine; God's grace in regards to humanity.

Something that has occurred to me lately is that the only religion (that I am aware of) that preaches grace is Christianity.  The rest all teach good works, or some type of deed that has to be accomplished.  Do so many prayers, perform so many good deeds, give so much money and maybe, just -maybe-, it will be enough to get another life, the after-life, the heaven equivalent.  On the other end, Christianity preaches that there isn't a need for good works to reach eternal life, that we are granted this entrance by simply believing that Jesus was who he said he was and allowing him to be the Lord in our life.

Just reading over the previous description makes me feel that it is pretty obvious that this good works mindset can be pretty stressful since there really isn't even any type of guarantee of success, whereas allowing this Jesus power to do all the redeeming required to enter into that heaven is much more freeing.

I realize that previous statement is probably incredibly subjective, but the heart of the question and point remains: Do the work ourselves, or let someone else do it for us?

I'm sure that my readers know by now, but I truly believe there is nothing we can do that will ever be enough to gain the rights to an eternal life.  Just taking a look at the news on any given day and you can see how messed up humanity really is.  We constantly compare ourselves to others to justify our own lifestyle choices.  I can attest that I have had my own thoughts of "Well, at least I don't do [that]"  or "-I- would never," etc.  And if we are honest with ourselves, we've all got things we don't want others to know about because we know we aren't as good as we like to pretend we are.  In short, if we rely on our own power and goodness we fall horribly, horribly short with no hope of success.

But, that's the bad news.

The good news is the message of grace.

I'm sure you've all heard it.  Jesus, also called Christ by many, came to earth living a righteous, perfect, sinless life and acted as the end all solution for humanity so that eternal life becomes attainable.  Jesus does all the work on our behalf and through his intercession we have hope.

That is the true beauty of Grace.  We don't have to stress ourselves out trying and trying to be enough.  It will never happen.  However, God's grace through Jesus makes us enough.  When we come to understand and accept this then we find that we can do and be good because we want to.  Because, we are so changed by the grace that has saved us from a life enslave by worry and hopelessness, that we can't help but share the grace, peace, and hope that we experience.

You see, I believe there is this huge misconception about Christianity.  Many believe it is this huge list of rules and thus you can't have any fun but I find the opposite to be true.  These aren't rules I have to follow.  I -choose- to do so because it is the least I can do for the person who saved me and saves me daily.  What's more it is my pleasure to do so because it benefits not only me but those around me.

After all, Grace, peace and Love is and has always been the message.

Grace and Peace.

Saturday, May 3, 2014


I know it's been a while since I've written here, but in my defense I have been pretty busy with... you know... stuff, and things.  It was important okay?!

Joking aside, it has been a while and I have had plenty of things to think over as my days have progressed.  The past few weeks I've been really diving down into a passage in John 15:1-16

These verses are filled with one word that constantly stands out, "Abide" and over these past few weeks I've been really mulling over what it means to abide.  Both by definition and how it applies in my own life.   I feel like it is often surrounded by misconceived notions of effort rather than resting.  More on that later.

But first, definition of abide:
             Abide - to remain stable or fixed in a state; to continue in a place

All throughout the passage (linked above) Jesus repeats, "abide in me, abide in me, abide in me"; call me crazy but if he repeats it so many times it must be important.  Jesus was a man who always spoke purposefully and without the fluff that many of us speak with today.  He never minced words, so for him to repeat a phrase really says something about the man as much as the message.  His repetition is indicative that he felt that this topic was incredibly important and he wanted to make sure his audience understood.

Abide in me.

Growing up in a world of skyscrapers, computers, cars, and everything city, it is hard for me to understand this discussion Jesus is sharing about vines and branches and fruit.  As I've studied these metaphors, I've tried to come up with something comparable but nothing fits quite as well as a vine and branches.  So I did a little bit of reading and tried to understand how grafting really works.

Grafting Info: I know, I know Wikipedia isn't exactly the "best" research credible resource, but it works.

Grafting is an incredibly interesting thing, and what's more it is also actually fairly simple.  Just looking up at images of grafted plants shows what kind of wide varieties of success can look like and it's quite beautiful.  But the thing that interests me the most, is that the plant that the branch is grafted into becomes the sole source of life for that branch, a successful graft will determine whether or not that branch survives at all.  It is fully reliant on the plant.

In the same way, Christ is telling his disciples that he is the sole provider of everything.  The very essence of life for those that are grafted into him.  As a Christian, I believe that Jesus is God incarnate and thus one I can put my hopes and fear, everything, into his hands trusting that he will give me what I need when I need it.  That has been a hard lesson, but a very freeing experience as well.  It is an ongoing process, but every day I see something new, understand a little more what it means to be grafted like a branch onto a vine.

Abide in me.

Which brings me back to the resting vs. effort aspect I mentioned above.  From my own experience, I have witnessed many people who carry themselves as Christians wear themselves out trying to do enough, be enough, give enough to warrant their salvation.  We tend to have this thought process that while we know Christ died so that we might live, we feel that we must do more (I'm guilty of it too at times).  But the truth of the matter is, Abiding is the complete opposite of going and doing.  It isn't about effort at all, but about resting.

To continue the grafting example, the branch that has been grafted onto the parent plant must rely solely on that parent plant for all nourishment.  But with that nourishment comes the beauty that only the branch can produce.  It is unique to all other branches on that plant.

In the same way, when we rest in Christ and let his Spirit nourish ours, we can grow and bear a beauty that is unique to us as individuals but also as a whole.  Which, in turn creates a unique beauty that could not be achieved otherwise.  Much like the tree here:

Admittedly, as I said before, I'm still trying to grasp this on a daily basis, but I also wanted to share a few thoughts as well.

The Sunday school class I attend has actually been working through a book called Abide in Christ by Andrew Murray & Bo Stevens which has been helpful in my studies of this passage and what lead to studying it in the first place.  If you're interested give it a look.

My two cents for now.

Grace and Peace.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Forgive this?

Hello readers, it's been a while.  I guess you could say I've been busy, but then maybe I just haven't felt like I've been in a good place to write anything of worth.  Who wants to read the drivel of any person's day?  Isn't that what personal journals/diaries are for?

Instead I will talk of something I've been going over and over in my mind.


It has got to be one of the hardest things to accomplish, and even writing this is hard because there are so many thoughts running around in my mind that I find it difficult to nail down that one coherent thought.

The past few weeks I've really been fighting with myself on this aspect of forgiveness, and I don't know if it is because I'm tired of dealing with other people's seemingly personal vendettas against humanity, or because I'm tired of being walked over by people who don't know how to keep their attitude in check (or feel they shouldn't have to), or even if it is simply because it is a hard thing to do.

The thing is, I feel like, for the first time in my life, that I don't want to be around people right now.  And not the "I'm tired, let's go home" kind of feeling, but rather I feel like I need a hiatus from humanity.  The entitlement, the attitudes, the selfishness, etc.  It wears on my spirit and my heart.  It hurts.

But Forgiveness.

How much peace would we get if we were more forgiving?  How many hours do we waste thinking about how things would be different if "they" would only do something?  How wasted is our energy on the bitterness that seems to overflow from the depths of our souls?  What is the point in being so angry at the world and telling the world to "just deal with it"?

Do we not see that everything we do affects another?

Jesus was so patient with us.  The sheep who wander off on our own.  And his forgiveness runs deeper than any one I know.

I would be so much worse off if God was not patient with my petty behaviors, and here I am complaining about that very thing. 


There are days when I wonder if I could ever forgive myself.  Not for the actions I've taken as much as the inaction that should not have been.  How can I forgive myself for not standing up for people when they need me to?  How can I forgive myself for my silence when words should have been spoken?  How can I accept my past?

It's a tough pill to swallow.  I think a lot of days I run from it.  I find myself still sucked into some of the same old ruts I've walked since childhood.  Never really denying the existence of my problems when asked, but living life as if I'm pretending they don't exist.

But I think, accepting these weaknesses are an important part of the human existence.  The journey of the Being.

Luckily, this isn't a journey I have to make alone.  There are those who have gone before me.  Experience and wiser individuals who have walked this path and have seen the light on the other side.

Luckily there are those who are walking through the same processes I am and can relate.

Luckily, I know this is not where it ends, it's just another beginning.


What a wonderful place to be.  Sure sucks getting there though.

Grace and Peace.