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To everyone who follows this GraceTribe blog, I hope you have moved over with us to normanramsey.com and our new self-hosted site. Please forgive any limitations or shortcomings you find there. Our new site is a work in progress and an opportunity to move forward to repentance.

What do I mean by that? The way of grace begins in repentance. We are called to believe in the Lord Jesus and share in a new prognosis God makes for our lives when we walk by faith. Then, we build up our most holy faith through prayer and all the means of grace to share in responsibility with the Holy Spirit for being conformed into the image of Jesus.

The Holy Spirit is our new coach and director as we are called to bless others. When something’s got to give, we bring life by laying down our lives for the sake of the gospel. We breakthrough into newness of life.  This newness compels us to move forward to further align ourselves with the Lord.

We move forward to repentance now instead of back and forth on the pendulum of a sinner’s disposition. We have been made saints of God who are marching forward under the Good Shepherd’s leadership.

One of those expressions of God’s work in my life is learning how to communicate the gospel through the internet. Thus, this invitation to follow our new website for the daily GraceTribe blog and in the future much more.

I look forward to hearing from you and knowing you are part of the GraceTribe.

(This post is used by permission and is written by my dear friend, Dr. Craig Green, Pastor of Livingston First Church, Livingston, TN.)


Misunderstood Love

PalmSundayWhen Yeshua had come closer and could see the city (Jerusalem), he wept over it, saying, “If you only knew today what is needed for shalom! But for now it is hidden from your sight… all because you did not recognize your opportunity when God offered it!” (Luke 19:41-44 CJB)

Misunderstanding love is the hallmark of the fallen human race—regardless of how God presents love; regardless of how explicit He is in foretelling it. Not only are we guilty of misunderstanding His love, we are guilty of redefining His love—even though He has clearly defined what real love is—and is not—in His Word…

Jesus wept over a city that should have known better. Zechariah 9:9 clearly states that your King comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey. The crowd outside the city got it…sort of. They covered the ground with palm branches and clothing and shouted praises as King Jesus rode toward Jerusalem. But they misunderstood the Messiah coming in humility, regardless of what the prophet had said.

That misunderstanding caused Jesus to weep over a city that would be utterly destroyed—with enormous loss of life—less than forty years later. Many in Israel never did come to see their Messiah…

I wonder if Jesus’ second coming—this time as the King of Kings riding on a white horse—will be equally or even more misunderstood…

While the religious leaders and most of the public two thousand years ago could not fathom a Suffering Servant as the Messiah (despite the prophet Isaiah’s clear words), most of our current world can’t seem to fathom a mighty victorious King coming in perfect authority and righteousness in His Second Coming.

In perfect humility—or in perfect glory, honor, and strength—Jesus is still… Perfect Love! His love is equally evident in suffering for our sin (as He did on the cross), in calling us to righteous holiness that finds victory over sin (as He does now), to returning in all glory and power to restore perfection (as He will soon).

The Love of God is still misunderstood and it is still being redefined as people long to manufacture a god who serves our needs and scratches our itches rather than submit to the one true God who—in humility and in all power—calls us to surrender to Him, as if… He is God and we are not!

Both, I believe, make Jesus weep as multitudes miss the peace Jesus brought, brings, and will bring.

· He came as a humble servant, but they wanted a militant king…

· He is now the King of righteousness who demands transformation by the Word and Spirit, but many bristle at the suggestion that HIS definition of righteousness and love, not ours, is the standard.

· He will come in all glory as God the King, but many will balk in full-blown rebellion.

This Palm Sunday, perhaps the thing to do is to lay down our lives before Him (rather than palm branches), and to receive HIM until our misunderstandings and redefinitions are overpowered by His enormous and perfect love…!

gorsuchGod gave grace to Moses to lead the people of Israel in the wilderness. How? By giving Israel a process of choosing judges who would help him bear the problems and the burdens of the people.  It was too much for one person to do and maintain the system of law God wanted the people to follow.

Moses gave the directive, “Choose some wise, understanding and respected men from each of your tribes, and I will set them over you.” (Deuteronomy 1: 13) The people answered, “What you propose to do is good.” (v. 14) So, Moses appointed “the leading men of your tribes, wise and respected men…to have authority over the people—as commanders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens and as tribal officials.” (v. 15)

The main instruction to these judges? “Do not show partiality in judging; hear both small and great alike. Do not be afraid of anyone, for judgment belongs to God.”  (v. 17)

Look at the process they followed. Our system of representation in the United States is supposed to work like this. Representatives are chosen or elected locally. The minute they are elected they are accountable to and appointed by Moses. They are not accountable to the people who elected them.  If something becomes too difficult for them, (would cause them to show partiality or favoritism) they are to recuse themselves and let Moses adjudicate it.

They are not to judge a situation by deciding who elicits their sympathy. They are not to judge a situation by the resources held by the different parties or by which tribe they belong to, or whether they belong to any tribe. Every decision rests upon the law not their own personal preference or the mandates of the tribe.

Once they assume the position of the judge, the character and the temperament that got them elected by those who knew them, can only be maintained if they are not partial to those who elected them. In my lifetime, we have reversed that process.

Now, it seems, we elect people to ‘bring things back to the district’ or to show partiality to their constituents. This is not grace; this is graft.

We have forgotten that once a person is elected they represent the law (the Constitution) for all the people not just their constituents. That’s why the law is meant to be written so it is the same everywhere, with everyone, regardless of the individual circumstance. Anything less is a form of discrimination regulating favor to one party over another. “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.” (Romans 12: 17) And just as the Scripture teaches us not to return evil for evil, we don’t correct past discrimination by coming up with present and future ways of discriminating.

God says, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12: 21) What is good? Being impartial and remaining a judge when we are tempted to become an advocate or a lawmaker.

Hearing this admonition, I believe Neil Gorsuch should become the next justice of our Supreme Court.  Knowing this admonition, I believe we should pray more often for our appointed representatives, including the judges that they might follow the law and maintain their integrity and their impartiality.

dangerWhen I was a teenager, my brother and I used to race in the pasture on the motorcycle. With but one bike between us, we raced each other and the clock. We had a fine route laid out, almost a mile long, that gave us ample opportunity to test our skill.

We had one rule to start. Since I was older and had been riding longer, and was more prone to take risks, it was determined that I had to go twice as fast in order to win. That actually worked out fine in the beginning. But, the more we raced the more Dennis’ riding improved.

I remember the last race before the rule had to change. I was flying along on the dirt bike with a few seconds to spare and still gain victory. But, I was nearing the halfway point on our course: a V-turnaround spot after which I would head for home. I realized if I slowed down much I would lose the race so I thought I would try to slide the bike into the curve and then propel my way to victory.

I knew as soon as I decided on the slide, the bike would lock up and I would go flying over the handlebars.

I lost the race.

Even though I knew it was coming, I had to try for victory anyway. Worse case scenario? I wreck and my brother wins the race.

I had this memory reading about God’s judgment in the last of days. God says through Ezekiel, “And so I will show my greatness and my holiness, and I will make myself known in the sight of many nations. Then they will know that I am the LORD.” (Ezekiel 38: 23) The prophet was speaking against those who were doing things God was against. We certainly know that activity is still going on and God is still against it.

Our way of driving along may be wrecked here soon as God shows his greatness and his holiness.  Let’s just make sure Jesus will be leading us to victory despite what happens in the world.  Even if we see it coming, let’s be ready to confess and know these three things.

Our triumph abides because of 1) the blood of the Lamb, 2) the word of our testimony, and 3) we don’t love our lives so much as to shrink from death. (Revelation 12: 11)

ashesWednesday evening, as the ashes were imposed upon my forehead I heard the words spoken over me by my fellow pastor, Mark Rooks, “For you were made from dust,
and to dust you will return.” (Genesis 3: 19 NLT)

The liturgy says, these are words spoken to remind us of our mortality but to me they are words that point to the cycle of grace to which we are called, the path we are to follow. And with the weather already unnaturally warm in our area, the longing to return to the dust has been stronger than ever.

I grew up on a farm and there is no clearer representation of the pathway of grace than the annual seasons and movements of a farmer. When winter lifts its cold mantle from us and its imposition of rest upon the farmer is fading, we return to the dust and resume our work.

  1. We prepare the soil and align the nature of the dust to align with what we are planting and intending to cultivate.
  2. We plant the seed. Or, you could say, we sow our faith, waiting for the seed we plant to die and reemerge as a sprout of new life.
  3. We cultivate what’s been planted. We water it. We tend it. We wage war against the weeds but never at the expense of what’s been planted.
  4. We harvest what we plant and rejoice over God’s gracious ways and blessing in our lives.
  5. We put up what we have harvested: canning, preserving, and packaging everything so we can live off of what we planted or someone else can.
  6. We save seed for when we will return to the dust again.

Yes, there is a longing in my heart to return to the Lord and begin a new work of grace in my life. Whether it is the imposition of ashes or the lengthening days of spring that awaken us, may each of us be drawn into a deeper, fuller, and more hands on and intimate relationship with Jesus.

Remember, “You were made from dust, and to dust you will return.” (Genesis 3: 19 NLT)