Archives for posts with tag: grace

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.

the passion of the ChristSimply put, we don’t deserve to receive the benefits of Jesus’ passion. The actual events point to this and our experience now reveals it again. As the disciples squabbled among themselves about who would be the greatest, Jesus humbled himself and washed their feet. As the disciples fell asleep, Jesus was agonizing in prayer, sweating drops of blood on their behalf.

As Jesus was facing a mock trial, beaten, and scourged; his disciples at best denied him and at worst hid themselves in fear. As Jesus bore their sins on the cross, they remained silent or hidden. Jesus – alone – faced the judgment of the world and sin.

Romans 5: 6 says, sin had made us all sick and weak. When Christ died, he died for those unable to worship, unable to give honor or devotion to the Lord. “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.”

“But, God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5: 8) When we were without passion, God shows His passion for us. Don’t ever think God (Jesus) dies for your potential good. A passion-less person has no potential to offer, little less be realized.  Neither did Jesus die for the unrecognized good you already possess.

Don’t kid yourself. You’re not all that.  But, Jesus is and more.

Even while the friends closest to him were betraying and denying him, Jesus still moves forward to the cross. Even while the system is rigged against him, Jesus is still resolutely and obediently moving towards Golgotha. Even while, nobody gets it, Jesus makes a new covenant in his own blood and sacrifice.

The promise that drives his passion? “…he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand. After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge (of the Father), my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.” (Isaiah 53: 10 – 11)

encouragerWho have you encouraged, today?  Another person? Yourself?

Were your eyes open wide enough to see that moment when you could show mercy and act with kindness toward someone?

To the one you cut short or cut off, did you go back and apologize? Did it occur to you that they were already disappointed in themselves for what they missed?  Was it a help for you to double the impact of their disappointment?

Correction can rise from two different roots: the law or grace.  We all try to avoid being corrected by the law. I mean, the last thing anyone wants to see are those flashing blue lights in your rear view mirror.

But, when someone brings correction out of love there is no lasting grief or regret. We are pulled closer to where we need to be together.

The law drives a wedge between the one correcting and the one being corrected. Grace drops an anchor that allows us both to be steadfast no matter how stormy it gets.

Again, just checking, who have you encouraged, today?

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.

masteryAs I grew up on the farm, we learned many things. The number one lesson we learned was if you want to develop a skill, follow someone who has already mastered that skill. The second point of that lesson is follow someone who believes you can master that skill. In other words, don’t take piano lessons from someone who can only play chopsticks. But, equally as important, don’t take lessons from someone who believes that your greatest level of performance will be chopsticks.

How were we taught this lesson? In countless ways. We were taught to master ourselves in simple games of Mother May I and Red Light, Green Light. We had a game we played with a ball on the front porch that went from simple coordination to performing a complex set of movements involving twisting and jumping off the porch, while catching the ball as it bounced back off the wall, while still ending up upright and in a ready position when you landed on the ground (with the ball in your hand, of course).

I don’t know who came up with these things to do. All I know is, if you learned to do something, whatever it was, you were expected to improve and speed up over time.

When we were young and went to the country store in the evening, we were expected to watch the card games and observe how each person played. Eventually, we would get to play at home and sharpen our skill.

All the while, whatever we were learning or making choices about, we heard our parents say, “whatever you decide will be good.” This basic belief was repeated and affirmed over and over again.

This is the way God calls us to follow Him. In the beginning of our disciple’s journey we are commanded to repent, to align ourselves with the Master of Life. We are also called to believe and trust in the God who is for us, who believes we can become holy as He is Holy.

The Apostle asks, “What shall we say in response to this?…  He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?  Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies.”(Romans 8: 32 – 33)

Have you committed yourself to the One who is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life?” Have you confidence the Lord has confidence in you?

Have you committed yourself to mastery? In The One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan, they list committing yourself to mastery as the first of the Three Commitments that Lead to Extraordinary Results. In this blog post, they are echoing the pathway of grace and I’ll share in the next couple of days how the other two commitments reflect the path, too.

Until then, ask yourself a One Thing kind of question, ‘What’s the ONE Thing for which I can commit myself to mastery that by pursuing, everything else will be easier or unnecessary?’

P. S. I highly recommend you read the book, The One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan.

pridequoteThe seed of sin holds its own destruction. When it first flowers you may not see it. In the beginning of sin, there is only the betrayal, the small failure, the falling short of victory. We feel the dis-appointment. We hopefully are conscious and aware that we have missed the mark. But, we’ve been told, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” So, one sin begets two; begets a thousand.

We got locked into a self-serving, sin-perpetuating biased way of doing things. At first, the dis-appointment nudged us towards introspection and evaluation. Now, it moves us to look for someone to blame.

True self-improvement will always pull us back towards humility and truly starting over. Sin with all its bitterness will simply demand repetition or recruitment of a crowd that agrees with us.

Pretty soon, a battle is being fought, sides have to be chosen.  Alignment to a path with those committed to breakthrough becomes impossible for us. Why? Because, we are no longer committed to breakthrough and newness of life. We are now committed to putting off and forestalling our breakdown and downfall.  This translates into a commitment to destroy anything or anyone who will once again expose our dis-appointment.

To what are we appointed? The Bible says, we  are all appointed to death and after that the judgement. (Hebrews 9: 27) But, what if that judgement had already been borne by someone else? Indeed, it has been. “so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.” (Hebrews 9: 28)

For those, who await a different outcome, it is not too late for you. Today, if you will hear God’s voice, the offer of grace stands.  Yes, you are appointed to death but come before the Lord in humility and repentance and let that death be a death to self, a confession of your sin, and a turning to the Lord that uproots you from the life you’ve lived up til now and roots you and grafts you into God’s kingdom.

Yes, you will still be fighting a battle but this one will begin in humility.

startingforwardThis morning, our youngest son Robert and his family (Sarah and Eli and Oliver)  will head out to Indiana to begin a new chapter in their lives. I see so many parallels to this new adventure they are undertaking with Luke 5 and Jesus’ call to his disciples.

They have gotten into our stuff this last year as Jesus got into Peter’s boat. Some things have changed with their stay. Robert has gotten his Army disability reestablished to be more appropriate to his physical condition. The boys have grown. Sarah has witnessed Karen’s anointing for organizing and stabilizing a home and I believe everything helps them be ready for this launch out into the deep.

But, it’s a deep place they have visited before; Indiana was where they were before they came home to us. Sarah’s dad is there, as are friends. As they move to the “nevertheless” of God’s direction in their lives, we pray their nets will fill with blessing and opportunity.

Maybe, like the disciples, their nets will break and they will have to call on others to help them through the anxious and nerve-wracking moments of life. I pray that every circumstance, every overwhelming moment will bring them to the feet of Jesus.

And, that they will hear Jesus speak to them of greater things still to come.

Grace and peace be upon them and you today. May the story of your life demonstrate that you, too, are being drawn to grace and the epic story God is writing with you.