The year has started off uphill for many but I’ve got a way for you to get rolling in the right direction. Start off each day – Waking Up to Grace. That’s the name of our latest project through Tate Music Group and you can order your copy before its official release on March 15, 2016. Go to https://paypal.com and click on Send. Use my email- firstname.lastname@example.org and order your CD today!
The cost of Waking Up to Grace is $10 + $2.00 postage ($12).
The Bible tells us ‘the just shall live by faith” and “faith is the victory that overcomes the world” but there are also things the Bible tells us we must do for ourselves. We count on God and it is grace that reconciles us and redeems us but we are to be responsible to the Lord.
What is our responsibility? What are the things to which God calls us throughout the revelation of His will and purpose that we need to do for ourselves?
- We need to watch ourselves. The King James version of the Bible says “take heed” to ourselves. Positively, we are responsible for ourselves. There are a lot of old sayings that find their root in this responsibility. ‘Ignorance of the law is no excuse.’ ‘Don’t bite off more than you can chew.’ ‘Watch where you’re going.’ We are not aimless or accidental in our living, but we do indeed watch where we’re going. We are aware of ourselves. We’re honest about what we can do and what we can’t do. This keeps us from thinking too much or too little of ourselves. This keeps us from doing an abundance of stupid things or from falling into temptation. The scripture becomes our guide and point of reference so we can say with the Psalmist, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”
- We humble ourselves. We do this under the mighty hand of God. We do this through prayer and fasting. We do this by admitting our wrongs and submitting our rights. We do this through serving others. We understand the “why” of life and therefore align ourselves appropriately to walk uprightly and confidently with God and others. When we are at liberty to do this one thing everything else becomes possible. Nothing is too difficult when we overcome the difficulty of humbling ourselves rather than having someone else do that job for us.
- We love ourselves. Taking responsibility for this is the means to love others. Loving ourselves gives us the recognition that we all feel like strangers sometimes. We all have borne the burden of being subject to another. We all have experienced the awkwardness of being less than what we want ourselves to be or have caught ourselves in trying to be too big for our britches. We love ourselves and we want what is best for ourselves. Though, we fall short of what is best, loving ourselves allows us to see that as a unique creature we are like all other unique creatures: we are to live responsibly, to love the Lord deeply, and to love our neighbor uniquely.
Be the first to get your copy of Norman’s newest release: Hymned in by Grace. Pre-order it today at
After you sign in, use Norman’s email, email@example.com and pay $10.00 + $2.00 shipping and handling ($12.00 total) for five new, original songs of praise and five classic hymns and hymn medleys like you’ve never heard them sung before. Listen to Norman’s version of I’ll Fly Away and you’ll understand why we want you to enjoy all 10 songs.
1. Come, Holy One
2. Hymned in by Grace
3. Bless the Lord, O My Soul
4. Know I Can
5. Grace Medley: Amazing Grace/Grace Greater than Our Sin
6. What A Friend/Tell It to Jesus
7. Make Me an Instrument
8. Higher Ground
9. I’ll Fly Away
10. I Am Thine, O Lord
Please allow 4 – 6 weeks for delivery.
I wish you a Happy New Year. What does that mean? It means three things: one for each word. I wish you a happy, new year because I want you to stand in grace this year. I Chronicles 16: 27 says, “Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy are in his dwelling place.” We find our happiness, our joy and peace in the Father’s dwelling place. Romans 5: 2 tells us that is found standing in grace.
I wish you a happy, new year because I want you to live as a new creation in Christ. 2nd Corinthians 5: 17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” Yes, I want you to live in 2015 as if everything is being made new in your life. Your actions and reactions result solely from your relationship to Jesus Christ and His love and grace for you.
I wish you a happy, new year because I want you to live under the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Yes, I expect everything you do to express the acceptance and the authority of God in your life.
Happy New Year!
This past Sunday, we discussed four basic steps to recognizing and revealing that our core confidence and competence arises from God and not from ourselves. Our focus verse was 2nd Corinthians 3: 5 but we preached from both chapters 3 and 4 to share the points of our message. What are the four steps we pointed out?
1. If we are going to recognize and reveal God as the supplier of sufficient grace and power for our lives we have to remember something. We have to remember that we are called to something greater than ourselves, something that is higher and more glorious. There is an eternal weight of glory that marks our living, one we cannot accumulate for ourselves but is the gift of God in Jesus Christ for us who believe and rely upon God.
2. But, all of us would be most miserable if it depended on us to reach this high and holy prize set before us. Thankfully, 2nd Corinthians 4: 1 says we can receive something that makes all the difference in the world. “Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.” Yes, the one thing we need to receive is God’s mercy and thankfully, it is available to us through Jesus Christ. Avail yourself of its power to transform our lives from one of limitation and restriction into one marked by grace and abundance.
3. As God is our sufficiency, we renounce some things, things that would occupy our mind and rob us of grace if we maintained our devotion to them or our discussion about them. It is important to remember our minds cannot focus on everything at once. Why? The seat of our passions, the root place for addiction, and the throne for worship all occupy the same place in our brains. Our desire for pleasure, our craving for what has been withdrawn from us, and the thirst for God’s presence can’t occupy the same place at the same time so to recognize and reveal God’s sufficiency in our lives we have to renounce some things.
4. Finally, we reflect something. We reflect the presence of the Holy Spirit. We reflect the truth of Jesus’ passion and preparation for us. Whether we are present or absent from the body we long to be clothed with the life of God in Jesus Christ. Our sufficiency is of God.
One thing above all other things we have noticed here on our trip to Korea – the repetition of appreciation. Almost everyday we have been here, someone offers praise to God and thanks to us as Americans for sending missionaries to Korea at the end of the 19th Century and bringing them the gospel of Jesus that saved them from sin. Then, they will thank us for the sacrifice of our troops: 38,000 giving their lives and over 100,000 wounded to deliver them from the crisis of Communism. That meant a lot more as we toured the Unification Observatory today and looked across the river into North Korea. There was an overwhelming sadness and grief that came over me as we could see from our brief look, a place with almost no trees due to deforestation because of fuel shortages for heat or no electricity for cooking. People living within houses with no roofs because the Communist government could finish guard towers but not the homes of its people.
We stood in a modern facility with a multi-lane highway to our south that was filled with cars. Across the river were three, humble workers carrying rice straw on their backs from the field they were working.
How have we seen a repetition of appreciation? I think of our group’s singing in the Sunday service. We were seated about midway back into the sanctuary and stepped forward to sing. The entire time we marched up to the front the congregation applauded. It took us quite a bit of time to get up there and form the five rows of singers. The applause never lessened or wavered. There was no pause like it would have been in America as the last row or two took their places in awkward silence, everyone getting more nervous as we waited to sing. No, the applause was sustained until we began to sing.
We have seen this repetition of appreciation as the associate pastors would all welcome and receive us at the church when we pulled in late in the evening. We saw it in the respectful bows and greetings we received from thousands here. We tasted and saw that their appreciation was good as were treated to delicious meal after delicious meal. We saw the repetition of appreciation that was shared by those who cleaned and ordered our rooms each day. Everything was perfectly refreshed and waiting for us whenever we returned.
Pastor and Mrs. Eun Pa Hong were wonderful leaders in this repetition of appreciation, as were the elders, and the other leaders of Bu Pyeong Methodist Church. The grace of God was clearly and repeatedly demonstrated to us. They have blessed me and all the participating pastors of the Virginia Annual Conference. Thanks go to our Bishop, Young Jin Cho and I thank all of you that helped me participate in this trip. Let it bear fruit for years to come.
The Bible says, “Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near.” (Isaiah 55: 6) If you are thirsty, come. If you are weary, come. If you are full of yourself, turn around quickly and come. Call upon the Lord. Experience the transforming presence and power of the Holy Spirit and know that God overwhelmingly and unrelentingly loves you. This is the essential reality.
God has shared his passion with you through Jesus Christ and God still desires to love you passionately in the power of the Holy Spirit. Can we experience this power? Yes, we can. But, our expectation of this happening must be matched by the longing and desperation of our seeking prayer. We are called to come but we will only do so when our thirst moves toward the greatness of God’s promised living waters. We are called to come but we will only do so appropriately when our weariness is desperate for the strength and rest of the Lord.
Are you seeking the Lord with a passion to match His? Or, have you reconciled yourself to an experience of something less than the essential reality of God’s breathtaking passion and love for you in Jesus Christ? You’re thirsty, but not that thirsty so you never repent of your busy-ness or relinquish any of the other commitments you hold to much more clearly than your commitment to Christ. I’m tired but I’m not so tired that I will not keep on trying to do most things myself. I want a greater experience of God but not so much that I change any part of my schedule or routine, not so much that I turn to God with weeping, and fasting, and mourning, not so much that I pray with unrelenting desire to experience the essential reality of grace and love in Jesus Christ.
Let us repent together today and let us “seek the LORD while he may be found, and call ye upon him while he is near.”
P. S. Yesterday, we visited Yanghwajin Missioary Cemetery and the 100th Anniversary Memorial Church. It was a very sobering and deeply moving time as we learned of the zeal and sacrifice of the first missionaries to Korea. I hope at some point in the future I can show many of you the video we received as a precious gift yesterday. The lives of our ancestors still speak and their testimony of sharing the gospel is still bearing fruit today.