Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Yes, I've said it before and many of you have probably noticed that I often sign my messages, "only by Grace." That simple act of signing off on messages and notes conceals (or maybe reveals?) a truth that becomes ever more luminescent to me as the years go by. God truly is the "God of Grace", and I capitalize Grace for the emphasis it deserves here. Patti and I have experienced God's outrageous Grace in our lives . . . we have been given what we didn't deserve, and what we deserved has been withheld by a loving Father in Heaven. We have chosen 2 Corinthians 4:7 for our touchstone verse on our little "business cards" as a constant reminder of our brokenness and God's almighty power manifested in Grace and Love.

If there is one thing I want my children to know beyond a doubt, it is that God loves each of them more than any of us can comprehend. And that that Love doesn't depend on what they do or don't do in their lives. Grace . . . it is an outrageous concept from a worldly point of view, but it is the Heart of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit . . . it best describes how that relationship at the center of the universe . . . full of Love . . . imparts that Love to each and every one of us! It is the reason I yearn to have every person I know and care about grasp that knowledge in their own mind and heart.

Recently, I have taken the time to read several books by Philip Yancey. Yancey writes with honesty and out of his own brokenness, including that which came from a dysfunctional family and church in his early years. Because of a tremendous amount of pain and suffering in lives that Patti and I have been praying for, including those in our own family, I wanted to search God's Word more intentionally for answers . . . for Grace. I went to the book of Job and others, then read Yancey's "Where Is God When It Hurts" and "Disappoint With God" for his reflections on those subjects. Then I went back into God's Word again, searching for more "answers". Always, the "why" questions are never answered in Scripture, or in honest authors reflections. For the most part, we are assured over and over again of God's omnipotence and omniscience . . . in a word, his "bigness"!

Then, I read "The Jesus I Never Knew", again by Yancey. And I discovered again, or was properly reminded that this very big God, chose to become one of us, experience all that we experience and feel . . . and then some! I was lovingly reminded that "For God so loved me that . . ." Finally, I read "What's So Amazing About Grace", which brought it all together, and which also lead me full circle back to the first book, "Where Is God When It Hurts". Where is God? He IS near, He is in our hurt, He feels our hurt . . . whether we feel Him or not, He is there. It is what we cling to when we can't "feel" Him, when we are depressed or suffering so much physical pain that we feel He has abandoned us, and yet, we just hang on doggedly to the notion that He never leaves us nor forsakes us, no matter what our minds or bodies are telling us. He is, as many bright theologians have distilled down to in their intellectual musings, the God Who loves!

When we finally come to this "knowledge", this wisdom of heart and soul . . . when we finally come "face to face" with this One Who loves us so extravagantly . . . well, it makes all the difference. We can surrender all our concerns, worries, misgivings, lack of confidence and more to this One in total Trust, and expect His Love and Grace in return. It IS what He desires for us, it is what He created us for . . . to be loved! My God You are the most beautiful Mystery!

When we come to it . . . this knowledge, this love . . . our natural, our created response is to love in and of ourselves! We desire to become like Him . . . the Father reflected in His Son . . . patience, kindness, goodness . . we desire to "reflect Jesus" to a broken world, to a broken people. We desire to be Grace in human form! It is what this world needs more than anything else, it is what is lacking in government, corporations, organizations and yes, even in, or especially in, the church! We can do it . . . by the Grace of God . . . and in the strength of the One who saves us! To be sure, we cannot do it in or of ourselves, for we too often tend to be people of ungrace. But you can be sure if you "ask" for this Grace to be manifested in your own life, if you seek it with all your heart and mind, God will be pleased to answer that prayer!

only by Grace,


P.S. I know in this "season" of my life God has granted more time to read, a passion I had as a child and am now rediscovering. And, I know many of you don't have the luxury of that "time" to engulf books by armload. However, I can recommend attempting this diet of four books by Yancey to feed your soul and spirit. I wish there was a "Reader's Digest" condensed version or package . . . .hmmm, perhaps I could do a "Cliff Notes" version myself?! May God bless you in this "season", and give you a new and fresh sense of His immense Love for you, may you know this Amazing Grace.

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