Archives for posts with tag: repentance

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.

outoforderYou see this sign and what do you immediately know: something isn’t working correctly or is broken and needs to be repaired.

I was reading an article by Mike Adams on Townhall.com when I began to think of other ways we are hurt by getting things out of order. You’ve heard the old expression, ‘getting the cart before the horse’, but putting things in that order really is a funky way of moving a cart around, especially if it’s loaded.

Putting feelings before our will/our faith.  Feelings or emotions are the last things that should guide any decisions we make or conclusions we draw.  When we forsake our will and its adherence to the Truth of God’s Word to how we feel about people and things, we will always fall short of the truth. How? By focusing our aim on something that falls short to begin with. Not one of us is perfect or completely right so why would I allow my will to settle for falling short because I might feel better about it.  In the end, feelings don’t account for much. If I feel great about myself but I don’t trust Jesus, I’m still lost even though I feel good about where I am. If I feel terrible about myself but I don’t trust Jesus, I’m still lost even though I’ll be depressed when I die. Have faith in God and let your feelings follow.

Putting the praise of people ahead of the praise of God. This is a close cousin of  putting feelings ahead of our faith. Who is going to validate your life? Who tells you you’re good? If it’s people, know that you will be aiming at a moving target for what is an approved response.  If it’s God, know that the standard you seek to attain will be the same: yesterday, today, and forever, though not popular at given times, seasons, or places.

Putting convenience before our commitments. How many good things could we have accomplished if we didn’t give in to procrastination or momentary laziness?  How many times have we excused ourselves from following commitments by saying we will catch up to them later?

Making decisions and commenting on subjects before seeking the Lord in prayer.  How many complaints and conflicts can be diffused before they begin by simply asking the complainer or the conspirator, “How have you been praying about this?”  “What part of the Scripture led you to this conclusion or course of action?”

If you would like to add to this list, please do. How do things get out of order in your life or in the lives of ones you love?  Help me know where the turn-around battle needs to be fought.

Remember, being out of order is meant to be a temporary situation. There is nothing, by grace through faith, that can’t be restored or turned around.

signsofthetimes(A Brief Meditation on Psalm 46 and Matthew 24)

The way of grace teaches us that our hope for life begins in repentance. We prioritize out of necessity and for the sake of aligning ourselves with the truth.

We believe in the Lord Jesus Christ because man-made opinions and bubbles burst and the world tries to bustle us into becoming entangled with its causes, wars, and disputes. We believe so our ways might be exchanged for the ways of God, worldly reactions and responses exchanged for the will of God’s Kingdom.

We build up our faith because the systems upon which we lean and depend will be kicked out from under us. There will be divisions along ethnic lines and realms of thought.

We bless others in the power of the Spirit because a spirit of bitterness is taking hold of our society. There is a famine of taking in God’s Word.  We are called to move as free people, willing to let go of our own lives for the sake of those who are locked into their limiting fortresses of unbelief. We know soon all the vain things which leech and consume our attention will be consumed by God’s fiery judgment so while the light of grace still shines we are working.

We bring life in Jesus’ name to those pestered and plagued by sin, seemingly bound to turmoil, chaos, and unrest. We influence this wicked and perverse generation by the rest and stillness we have found in the presence of God. As we allow God to ascend in the midst of what we do, even the ‘fools who say there is no God’ may discover otherwise.

We breakthrough as the One whose name is above all names is exalted in our lives. Everything we know will be shaken including the ground upon which we stand. The confidence we carry is “The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” (Psalm 46: 7, 11)

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.

payattention“Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. He appointed twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons.” (Mark 3: 13 – 15)

This is the most concise summation of the two calls God makes upon us. The first is the call to come to Jesus and be with him. The second call is to be sent by him to share the word and power of the gospel.

One calls us to be aligned with Jesus. The second calls us to act as an ambassador under the authority of Jesus.  One call command us to be saved by grace through faith. The second call commands us to serve by faith to share the grace of Jesus with others.

Romans 8: 28 – 30 describes these two calls: one has God orchestrating everything together for our good; the second has God organizing and ordering our steps together by His Spirit for the good of others.

The first call commands us to repent and believe in Jesus. The second calls us to represent and to bless others.

The first call is heralded out to all as a mandate from God, because “now (God) commands all men everywhere to repent.” (Acts 17: 30) The second call is delivered more discreetly and directly to our heart as we are given our personal assignment to forgive, to help, to demonstrate compassion, and to extend the comfort and mercy of the Lord.

If you are trying to fulfill the second call apart from being a response to answering the first call, you are likely to be perpetuating the good works you like to do instead of what God is asking of you.  God will not ask you to be a witness for him without you first receiving the sign and seal of being with him – the Holy Spirit. As Jean Holmes said, “You’ve got to have a with-ness before you have a witness.”

You have to pay attention to how both calls of God are being fulfilled in your life. Most Christians have forgotten or have never learned how to emphasize the priority of answering the first call before you try to fulfill the second one.  Some will try to tell you that you can come to realize the first through your efforts at following the second.

A whole generation (millennials) have been taught if you find a place to belong among serving people, you will eventually realize you have a place of belonging with God. But, in practical and pastoral terms, I’ve seen very little evidence where putting the cart before the horse gets you very far. What I’ve noticed most often when we try to switch the order of these two calls is we end up fooling ourselves and frustrating ourselves from ever experiencing the reality of a Spirit-filled faith experience with Jesus.

So, I ask you to pay attention and ask yourself these two questions. Have I responded to the call of Jesus to come to him and be with him? Secondly, do I now live each day, sent into it by Jesus?

Well?

“And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” (2 Corinthians 5: 15)

 

why“Then Jesus told this parable: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil’?” (Luke 13: 6 -7)

Jesus is giving us the opportunity to do more than use up space. In fact in Luke 13, Jesus gives the bookends for our whole reason for being on the earth. The first reason why we are here is to repent: to align our life with the life of God, to align our will with the will of God; to turn to God, find forgiveness from God, and walk with God.

Jesus says, if we don’t repent we perish. Plain and simple. God expects fruit from our lives and the kind of fruit God desires is rooted in repentance.

The other bookend for why we’re here is the byproduct from what is begun in repentance. The way of grace works like this. We begin in repentance. We believe in the Lord Jesus and exchange our way for His. We build up our faith, praying and practicing the habits the Holy Spirit teaches us. We bless others. We bring life to others through the sacrifice of our service. Finally, we breakthrough into newness of life.

How do we breakthrough? We become a disciple maker. We become a fisher of people. We become an example, the proprietary system God uses to bring freedom and life to others: the freedom of forgiveness and faith, the freedom of healing and joy, the freedom of purpose and mercy.

I call you to account this day. Have you repented of doing no more than taking up space in the soil? The Holy Spirit will continue to dig around in your life so that you might align yourself in faith with Jesus but don’t take that work of God for granted. You can only share out of what you have. Have a relationship with Jesus. Live by His grace as a free person so you can be used of God to share what you have received.

 

Ifollowjesus hope you’re the kind of person that is able to follow the directions when you are putting things together. Even if you have a knack for such things, I hope you are still humble and sensible enough to follow directions if you have them. After all, there’s no need to make up a way if a way has already been provided.

I think of the God-provided instruction for organizing and putting together a well lived life in Jesus’ first words found in Mark, chapter 1. They set the parameters for how to fully seize each day and moment of your life.

  1. “The time is fulfilled.” When do we act? When the situation is perfect? When someone forecasts a high probability of success? How about right now? Jesus says, the alignment of your life to God waits for nothing but your obedience. As the song says, “Right now is the right time to serve the Lord.”
  2. “The kingdom of God is at hand.” What do we trust? Psalm 46 tells us God will bring consumption (wars) to an end. God will burst our bubbles. God will kick the props out from under the systems we take for granted. And, God will consume all the things our lives revolve around. John called the people to repentance because he said, “One mightier than me is coming.” Knowing the kingdom of God is at hand points us to the Mighty One in whom our trust will rest.
  3. “Repent.” The work of alignment and strengthening our relationship with God is ongoing so we are always being called to repent. Remember, repentance doesn’t solely mean turning away from doing wrong. Repentance defines our ‘with-ness’. Dr. Edwin Louis Cole said, “All we do in life is enter and leave.” Repentance is deciding the next place we’re going to be.
  4. “Believe.” If we have our ‘with-ness’ established with God, then our faith propels us to be a witness. But, our faith follows the God who “directs our paths” (Proverbs 3: 6) Yes, to believe is to be led by the Mighty One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit, not to initiate our own program or agenda. We have come to learn that “everything that does not come from faith is sin.” (Romans 14: 23)
  5. “Come, follow me.” Whose bandwagon are we on?  Jesus said,  we need to be on his. The imperative command to come is an ontological and existential decision. What kind of person are we going to be? Are we going to be a Jesus follower or a something else follower? If we are going to be a Jesus follower we need to tuck in behind him as closely as possible so that when Jesus moves we move with him, staying in step and alignment with him at all times.
  6. “I will make you to become fishers of men.” This is the reason we acted to align ourselves with Jesus in the beginning. We wanted the transformation to begin. We wanted to know why we were here and what are we supposed to be doing. This is it. We are part of God’s wake up team, calling people to know the time is fulfilled, the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, believe, follow, and witness the powerful changes God brings to your life!