More on Grace and Peace

Oct 18th, 2011 Bible Verses

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Just as a side note, I did a search for peace and grace on a Bible search engine.  Interesting fact is that in the new testament letters, grace and peace were often the greetings.  As an example, consider this:

Titus 1:4
To Titus, my true son in our common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.

I’m not really sure how to read this.  Should I read it as if it says “I offer you grace and peace” as if grace and peace are nouns – things? Or should I read it as if grace and peace are the verbs – an action being done by the writer.

As we continue to look at grace and peace, I encourage you to consider the difference between grace and peace as things you can have, and things you can do.

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Grace and Peace

Oct 17th, 2011 Bible Verses

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No sudden improvements in my ability to act with grace.  Learning is a slow process. So time to add another piece to the mix – peace that is.

Ephesians 4:2-4

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.  Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace

Unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace?  Really, I don’t feel like I have a bond of peace with…anyone. I was reading this morning and keep wondering about all the times in pregnancy where someone is giving advice or disagreeing with what I consider healthy choices.  Do I keep the unity of the Spirit?  Do I bear with one another in love?

Or do I ignore them, walk away and grumble about how uneducated they are?  I guess it really depends on how much I like the person. Important point to note–I can bear with someone in love.  I just need to want to.

 

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Turning My Heart

Oct 14th, 2011 Bible Verses

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1 Kings 18:37
Answer me, LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you, LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.

I just wanted to share this with you.  I don’t believe in Christianity that is about doing the right thing.  If all I need in life depends on me doing the right thing then I have no need for God.  Just give me the list of right and wrong and I can do it, at least as good as anyone else can.

I believe in a God who is more powerful than me. A God who doesn’t depend on me.  A God who doesn’t even need me.  I believe in a God who allows me to participate in what he is doing.  A God who changes me when I am ready, teaches me as I am able to learn and challenges me to help me grow.  I believe in a Christianity that exists beyond me.

My God is wild and crazy and unpredictable.  I don’t understand his ways and I don’t see the world through his eyes.  But I would like to. There is nothing inside me that can help me understand the world like God.  The only way for my heart to change, for my eyes to see the world differently, is for God to do it.

So when I say I will not fake grace because pretending will not change my heart, it is because I believe the ONLY thing that will change my heart is God.  Faking grace is about wanting other people to think I’m a better person–it’s just pride.

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Rock Salt Anyone?

Oct 13th, 2011 Bible Verses

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Colossians 4:6
Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

I know I have salt.  My conversations are definitely full of truth to the point of being stabbing. My conversation isn’t seasoned with salt, It’s drowned in rock salt.

If I made cookies with the wrong proportions, they would come out horribly.  My wrongly proportioned conversations are pretty horrible too. Somehow I need to get the mix better.  Keep some salt, but find a way to get the grace back in the mix.

But it cannot be fake.  I don’t do fake.  I don’t do pretending to fix things and I don’t do socially correct actions just because they are the “right” thing to do.  My actions do not change my heart because my actions come from my heart.  Faking grace doesn’t build grace because it is a selfish action.  It is about making me feel good about what I am doing rather than the real work of addressing the sin in my heart.

Instead, I spend the time with God to figure out what is getting in my way and allow God to change my heart.

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mmm, Salty

Oct 12th, 2011 Bible Verses

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Colossians 4:6
Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

I’ve already admitted to being without grace, so lets continue on with the next part of this verse.  Are my conversations seasoned with salt.  How are we going to define salt?

I think about the salt as the part that adds depth. Have you ever had cookies made without the salt?  They taste flat or bland. Salt adds richness of flavor, but does not adjust the texture.  Same with other foods – salt removes the bland and dull. Unsatisfying.

I had to stop for a minute.  Conversation full of grace unsatisfying?  Well, yeah.  I think I can see that.

Grace without salt, maybe that comes across as fake, as if you are not really listening or not really paying attention.  I think of the words of comfort people give without thinking.  For example, when a mother has a miscarriage and her friends say, “You can always have another one.”  The comment is meant to be loving and healing and comforting, but it is without real thought. Does the speaker really think a child is replaceable?  No, but they didn’t think about what they were saying.  They were just trying to sound comforting.  Grace without salt.

There is probably more than that.  It’s just the first example I could think of.

 

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People vs. Time

Oct 11th, 2011 Bible Verses

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Colossians 4:6
Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

Yesterday I started with this verse, and said I tend to avoid conversations because people waste my time.  I promised to explain that fuller today.

As a student, I have only so much control over my time.  I have classes and assignments that must be done, and clinical hours I must complete. The work adds up, and quickly.  But unlike a traditional student, I have two children and a husband at home.  My family needs my time, so I must protect as much as possible for them. To do this, I try to bring home as little school work as possible. This isn’t always easy, some nights I get home after bed time and last semester I had to travel overnight for clinical time.  So I study between classes, finish assignments as quickly as I am able and generally try to stay focused at school.

That brings me to people.  Do I want to spend 20 minutes at lunch talking about things that do not matter?  Not if it means I will need to take 20 minutes away from my kids when I get home. So it isn’t that I dislike people, or even that I want to be ungraceful.  But in the back of my mind I am always calculating how much work I need to complete, how much time it will take and how I will protect as much time as possible for my children.

The result, I guarantee, is that my conversations are NOT filled will grace.

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Seasoned with Salt

Oct 10th, 2011 Bible Verses

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Colossians 4:6
Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

I am still learning about Grace.  About what it means for me personally, and what it means to me as a parent.   Today God brought me to this verse.

I’m wondering about this conversation “full of grace and seasoned with salt.”  It sounds like a recipe, but I’m sure it isn’t as easy as a pinch of this and a touch of that to live in my life. It makes me think about my conversations.  Are they full of Grace?  Probably not usually and definitely not lately.  It is as if I don’t give my chance to have grace because I avoid conversations when possible and when not possible I get out of them as quickly as I can. Honestly, sometimes it feels like people waste my time.

I’ll explain more tomorrow.

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Not me, but the Lord

Oct 7th, 2011 Bible Verses

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Acts 4:33b-34

And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales

Again God brings me to a verse I would never have picked. I feel like I’m at the starting line of a race, but instead of starting the race my coach keeps pulling me aside and saying, “you know where you are going right, you know you are supposed to run right.”

And now, at the last second before the starting pistol fires, my coach takes off my sneakers.  It was God’s grace powerfully at work in them???  This wasn’t something they learned, or a behavior they practiced.  This wasn’t even anything they did, as if it wasn’t about them at all.  It was always about God.  Their grace was God’s grace working through them.

It is never easy, I accept that.  No matter how nice three steps sound in a sermon on Sunday, I don’t learn to rely on God in three steps.  Learning to live a life of grace is going to mean learning to let God shine through me.  I’m afraid that is much more difficult than learning the right interaction techniques for working with difficult people.

So to recap, I’ve learned that it isn’t enough just to treat people nice, I want my interactions with them to leave them more beautiful.  I’ve also learned that seeking grace is about my actions, not other people’s reactions. Finally, I have learned that the grace will not come from me or anything I do, but will be a work of God through me.

What have you learned this week?

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My actions, or their response?

Oct 6th, 2011 Bible Verses

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Isaiah 26:10

But when grace is shown to the wicked,
they do not learn righteousness;
even in a land of uprightness they go on doing evil
and do not regard the majesty of the LORD.

So here is another verse I wouldn’t have thought to start with, but God is so good at painting a complete picture for me.

I think I still have this image in my head that if I just treat people with grace, if I just do the right things, everything will be perfect.  But this verse clearly states that is not true.  This verse clearly tells me that even the grace of God does not make the kinds of changes I’m imagining will happen.

I need to remember that this grace journey is about me…not about others.  It is about the way I respond to people, the way I treat them and the way I see them…not about what they do.  I am to have grace, even when that grace is not accepted.  I am to treat others with grace not because I expect something from them, but because I expect something from me.

This is one of the places it gets hard to have grace with your children.  It takes so long for them to grow up and change.  But my grace is not dependent upon them earning it, or responding to it.  It is just the way I am to treat them.

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What does “grace” mean?

Oct 5th, 2011 Bible Verses

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Proverbs 1:8-9

Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction
and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.
They are a garland to grace your head
and a chain to adorn your neck.

I’ve decided to take this just one step at a time, and for a while one verse at a time.  This is the first verse God sent me to.  I know, it isn’t anything that would normally come to mind when thinking about becoming a graceful person, but I had to stop and reread it–twice.

A garland to grace your head…to grace your head.  I hadn’t really thought about this meaning of grace when I started, but what a beautiful meaning to begin with.  To adorn or to make more beautiful.  What a lovely goal.  Will my interactions with others make them more beautiful?  Will I only treat them with grace? Or will I become a person who graces others?

Dear Lord, what does it take to learn to love that way?

What about your children, your family?  Do you treat them with grace…or grace them?

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