Archives for posts with tag: Norman Ramsey

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.

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)

blessedActs 2: 28 says, “You have made known to me the ways of LIFE; You shall make me full of joy with your countenance”.

So often, when we think about being hit in the face with life we are thinking in lower case letters. We reflect instances of rejection and disappointment, grief and loss, sickness and pain and a thousand other little things that accumulate their wear and tear upon our face.

But, what if we thought in capital letters, or as we used to say growing up – BIG letters? What happens to us when LIFE hits us in the face? What is reflected, then? Joy? The fullness of the Holy Spirit? The wonderful works of God?

When God told Moses and Aaron how to teach the people of God to bless one another, thinking about it in capital letters becomes important. The places in the path of life where we build up and strengthen our faith and where we bring life to others are both highlighted by LIFE hitting us in the face. “May the Lord bless you and keep you; MAKE HIS FACE TO SHINE UPON YOU, and be gracious unto you; LIFT UP HIS COUNTENANCE UPON YOU and give you peace.” (Numbers 6: 24 – 26)

Face to face with the Lord, we face life and all of its tribulations. Face to face with God, we reflect the joy and glory of His presence. Turn our face away from that direct and intimate relationship and everything looks different. We will look different.

I am finishing up vacation today and I thank everyone for their prayers for us while we’ve been away from home. Today’s post is a reflection of our time apart as I have been writing a book called, Putting on the Face of Grace. That’s the tentative title, anyway. I hope you will get excited about having it for yourself. After some refining and editing, it will be ready in the spring through Kindle on https://smile.amazon.com and directly from us.

The Lord bless you today and you be ready to shine when LIFE hits you in the face!

smileOne of the books I am working on while on vacation is called The Face of Grace. I want to share an excerpt from it with you today and give you the opportunity to answer the question: Do you have a face for evangelism?

…Think about it for a minute. What is the facial expression of your faith? What is it when you know God has given you the one thing you need to have “everything that pertains to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1: 3), and because God gives you the one thing, God will give you all things?

How could our face be downcast? How could we look disappointed when God does “more than all we ask or imagine”? (Ephesians 3: 20)

“Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies.” (Romans 8: 33) Why do we keep that paranoid look on our face? It is God’s Word that tells us who we are.

Why do we get so defensive and upset when other people say things about us? When Jesus went to the cross, all the insults and accusations that could be leveled against us because of our weakness and sin were borne by him. He bore that weight for us.  This is what the word ‘bring any charge’ means. Accusers are calling us on the debt of our sin. But, why should our expression make us look like we’re still guilty and Jesus’ grace and forgiveness doesn’t apply to us?

Is there something we need to confess? Something, for which we need to repent? Then, by all means, let’s make things right with God. But, having done that, don’t let our expression deny the mighty work God has done.

“Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” (Romans 8: 34)

Why should our face be instead stuck on a look of thanks and joy? Jesus is praying for us. Why should our face be stuck on a look of thanks and joy? We are a blessed people.

There are three things in this one verse that establish that blessing. Jesus died for us. Jesus was raised for us, and Jesus is interceding for us. Ecclesiastes 4: 12 says, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” No one can undo what God has done for you and me.  The added strand of Jesus’ intercession means no one can undo what God is doing for you in the present or will do for you in the future.

Count on it. Let your face show it. God will be with you and together you will overcome…

 

I had the joy today of recording a demo for three songs with my friends Joey Gore and Steve Kroekel at Serenade Studios in Bladenboro, NC. Loved it. Loved it. Loved it.recordingwithjoey-gore

bishopsharmalewisI know many of you are excited, like me, that we’ve been asked by our Bishop, Sharma Lewis to read through the Bible in 2017. This may be a new experience for many of you and you might think it too great a challenge. I can assure you, you can develop a habit of reading the Bible and responding to it that will lift your spirit, renew your mind, and train your body in righteousness.

To move through this process I recommend you order a Life Journal. Click to learn more about using the Life Journal or using a journal as part of your devotional life as you listen to Pastor Wayne Cordeiro of New Hope Church. lifejournalhabit

I urge you to find someone who is committed to reading through the Bible and ask them to be your friend in this process and help each other stick with it. Developing the habit together not only may make it easier, it will become a more valuable experience as you share in the application of God’s Word in your life.

I also urge you to follow this blog throughout 2017 and encourage your friends to do so, as well. I’ll be sharing how to follow Jesus up the pathway of grace, sharing some from my devotional journal, and alerting you to resources that will build up your faith and direct you into becoming a greater blessing to others.

P.S. Read the Laurel Hill United Methodist Church newsletter and calendar.

P.S.S. Read the Norman Ramsey Ministries Year End newsletter, The Pathway of Grace.

tortoiseandhareOne of the best one of Aesop’s fables that I read as a young boy was The Tortoise and the Hare.  I also remember the Bugs Bunny version. What do I remember from that story? “Slow and steady wins the race.”

What has that got to do with the way of grace? It speaks to the quality of God’s grace. It is like the steady stream talked about in Psalm 46 that “makes glad the city of God”.  It’s not a splash here and a splash there.

So many live horrible lives today because they live hare-able lives. They know how to jump in, start fast, wear themselves out running full tilt from one thing to another; finally, quitting or at least taking a break before they finish.

God says, His grace is like a river. We step into it and it will bear us steadily along. It will take us to places we could not go by ourselves no matter how fast or energetic we tried to be.  Romans 5 tells us we have been given access into this grace through Jesus Christ. As a result, crossing the finish line victorious becomes a matter of entrusting our lives to Him.

“So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son.  He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding. God has now revealed to us his mysterious plan regarding Christ, a plan to fulfill his own good pleasure. And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth. Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan.” (Ephesians 1: 6 – 11 NLT)

Our prayer is that we stand within the steady downpour and flow of God’s grace in Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit moving us along in obedience and holy fear.