Ramble from December…

January 17, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

 

Merry Christmas Friends of Grace Family Fellowship[1],

What a joyous season![2] Although we are excited to load up our silver sleigh[3] and head up to Massachusetts to spend Christmas with Sara’s family, we will really miss our spiritual family at GFF. Please know that our thoughts and prayers will be with you all as we celebrate the birth of our Savior.

I figured that I would put together a few of the thoughts that have been rambling around in my head since last Sunday[4]. This is kind of long. Read it if you want—but this is not required reading over the holiday!

If you remember, we talked about the fact that, although our culture and even we as Christians often feel that we need to really focus on not messing up[5] and we are only accepted by what we can do[6] and we better bring something of value to please God[7], Jesus just wants us to put our faith in him and him alone—not our “good” behavior, not our skills, not what we can do.

The point of all of this can be summed up in a single word: GRACE. God’s grace is a gift to us. We don’t earn it.

Now it’s one thing to ponder the ramifications of this truth in our relationship with God[8]. It is another thing to realize that God’s grace to us should then be extended to those around us—family, friends, neighbors, co-workers… even strangers. This becomes quite radical when we think this through.

I wanted to share something I got from a pastor named John Lynch about this very topic. He was speaking of God’s grace and he related what an incredible gamble this is[9]. He then illustrated this point by saying that parents are challenged to approach their kids with grace just as God has approached us with grace. The question that comes up is: will the recipients abuse this amazing gift. Can we handle the incredible freedom God bestows on us by taking our sin and giving us Christ’s righteousness? He calls this The New Testament Gamble—and, basically, it is God saying to us:

What if I tell them who they are?

What if I take away every element of fear, or condemnation, or judgment?

What if I tell them that I love them and I’ll always love them and I’ll never love them more than I love them right now and that I love them right now no matter what they’ve ever done as much as I love my only son?

There’s nothing they can do to make my love go away

What if I told them that there are no lists?

What if I told them they could stop beating themselves up?

That they could stop being so formal and stiff and jumpy around me

What if I told them that I was absolutely crazy about them?

What if I told that even if they ran to the ends of the earth and did the most unthinkable and horrible things and killed me and were unfaithful in their marriage when they came back I would receive them with tears and a party?

What if I told them that I don’t keep a log of past offenses of how little they pray or how many times they’ve let me down or made promises to me they didn’t keep?

What if I told them that I’m their Savior and they’re going to heaven no matter what—that it’s a done deal?

What if I told them that they had a new nature…

That they’re saints—not just saved sinners who should just buck up and be better if you’re any kind of a Christian after all he’s done for you

What if I told them that I actually live in them now?

That I put my love and power and nature in them at their disposal…

What if I told them that they didn’t have to put on a mask?

That it was really okay to be exactly who they are at this moment with all their junk and not have to pretend about how close we are, how much they pray or don’t, how much Bible they read or don’t…

What if they don’t have to look over their shoulder for fear if things got too good the other shoe would drop?

What if they knew I will never, ever, ever, ever use the word punish in relation to them?

What if they knew that when they mess up I never get back at them?

What if they were convinced that bad circumstances are not my way of evening the score for taking advantage of me?

What if they knew the basis of our relationship friend was not based on how little they sin but on how much they let me love them?

What if they had permission to stop trying to impress me in any way?

What if I told them they could break my heart but I would try to never hurt theirs?

What if I told them that I kinda like Eric Clapton’s music too?

What if I told them that the “these” and ‘thous” have sort of always bugged me too?

What if I told them that I never really liked the Christmas hand bell thing with the white gloves?

That they can open their eyes when they pray and they still can go to heaven…

What if I told them that there is no secret agenda, no trap door?

What if I told them it was not about their self-effort—but about allowing me to live through them?

That’s the New Testament Gamble…

Here’s your assignment (if you choose to accept it). Read each of these and determine whether you believe them or not. They are, indeed, radical concepts[10]. Do we dare think of God like this? It may be a shift for some of you[11]. It might even seem a little sacrilegious. It may even make you a little uncomfortable.

That’s okay… In fact, that’s good. You may be able to experience the wonder of Christmas a little more this year than you have in the past.

God coming to earth as a baby…

It happened… whether you believe it or not.

It is a radical concept.

Dare we think of God as a helpless, needy, dependent infant?

That’s a major shift.

It even seems a little sacrilegious—God a baby.

And it may make you uncomfortable.

But that’s what we are celebrating. God being God—doing things his way, in his time. I kinda like the idea of an unconventional God—one I can’t quite get a grasp on, doing things I don’t quite understand. For a lot of years I tried to explain everything I could about God[12]… Now I am enjoying the fact that I have so much to learn about God.[13]

And I am overjoyed that I get to do it with you.

I’ll leave you with the verse we highlighted last week[14]:

Hebrews 11:6

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

I can’t wait to get back to keep seeking him together!

Grace and Peace,

Doug[15] [16]

 

Topic for Sunday, December 31

We’ll explore some passages from the Old Testament that talk about the Messiah… Then we’ll see the fulfillment or explanation of those in the New Testament.

It will be cool. Heck, I’ll even give you the OT passages to consider as a little holiday Bible study!

Genesis 3:15

Genesis 12:1-3

Genesis 49:8-10

2 Samuel 7:16

Isaiah 7:14

Micah 5:2

Isaiah 9:6-7

Have fun! See you on New Year’s Eve


[1] You may be thinking, “That’s a funny way to address this letter… What’s he mean by ‘Friends of GFF?’”… Well, I want to be able to send this letter to people outside the immediate GFF family. People like my dad and siblings, friends, former colleagues etc. Also, this enables you to pass this on to anyone you think might enjoy this correspondence. The main thing to remember is that the “Friends” we really want are people who will give big bucks to the ministry.

[2] I know that’s kinda trite—but it’s a great intro in a Christmas letter, isn’t it?… By the way, you know I was joking about the big bucks people.

[3] Honda Odyssey

[4] This is a scary thought, I know… Who wants to see what’s going on in my head!

[5] Santa Claus is Coming to Town—“He knows if you’ve been naughty…”

[6] Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer—“Then all the reindeer loved him…”

[7] Little Drummer Boy—“I have no gift to bring…”

[8] And it’s a big thing to ponder… I’ve been pondering for over a year and feel as if I’ve just scratched the surface of this topic.

[9] A gamble in human terms… Since God is in control over everything the odds are always in his favor!

[10] At least they are to me!

[11] It was for me—and it still is… Old mind sets are hard to break.

[12] Can you say, “self-righteous” or “pride” or “legalist”?

[13] This is a lot more fun, by the way!

[14] It’s a perfect backdrop for The New Testament Gamble

[15] Past tense of dig… Why is that important? It means I’m part of the verb club!

[16] I love footnotes, don’t you?!?

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