Tag: jesus (page 2 of 3)

A Christ-centered Christmas children’s book

Our creative director, Jason Dyba, wrote this book. He read it during our Christmas services at Long Hollow. It’s phenomenal.

Read along with it. Then pick up a copy (see below the video for easy, free instructions) for your family to read this Christmas. I did.

Laura, Rex, and I will be reading it together this year.

 

Herbie and the Manger from Long Hollow Creative on Vimeo.

To download your copy

You can also to order a physical copy to be delivered to your home!

 

The difficulty of Christmas

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image credit: Joe Cavaszos

I was standing in line at Wal Mart, checking out with a few snacks that my wife and I were taking to our staff Christmas party. We were both pretty excited to celebrate a great year with the staff at the church where we serve, and whom we loved.

My phone buzzed in my pocket. I slipped it out to see who was calling as I slid my credit card to complete the transaction. It was my mom.

“Hey mom, we’re checking out at Wal Mart. Can I call you right back?”

All I heard in reply was the rapidly-inhaling wheeze someone has when their words are battling with their tears. I instantly squatted down beside the register, cupped my hand over my right ear, and strained to hear every word coming through the phone.

“Mom? What’s wrong? Take a deep breath.”

“It’s Grandma…she’s…”

*wheeze*

“Mom. I can’t hear you. What’s wrong with Grandma?”

*wheeze*

“She’s gone, son. She’s gone.”

My world started spinning. I felt like things slowed down and sped up, all in the same moment. Everything seemed incredibly real and tangible…and at the same time, chaotic. In shock, I relayed the information to Laura as we grabbed our receipt and bags, rushing out the door. I remember the sound of the ignition as it combined with the screams from the ambulance and fire trucks. I knew they were for Grandma. I knew they were headed in the same direction we were.

My grandma’s house was less than 2 miles from Wal Mart. When we pulled up, the flashing lights of the Emergency vehicles lit up the house like Christmas lights normally would that time of year. I parked in the driveway and ran up the shiny metal wheelchair ramp that had recently been installed. My dad walked out, holding my son, Rex, in his arms. They were playing with a toy. It was Dad’s way of distraction-coping. He had just lost his mom, and to keep from crumbling under the emotional weight, he played with Rex. I talked to Dad briefly, then went inside, pushing past the medical personell who didn’t know what to say to me.

Grandma was laying on the bed. She’d died in her sleep. She hadn’t been in the best of health, but her general demeanor and look were improving. Then, she was gone. In an instant, she went to be with Jesus. I bent down and kissed her cheek, a tear dripping down mine onto hers. “I love you, Grandma” I whispered.

2 years ago, just a couple of weeks before Christmas, I lost my Grandma. I’ll remember that day for the rest of my life. I’m reminded of her love, her warmth, her laugh, and her put-everything-from-the-freezer-in-the-pot soup. Every Christmas Eve, I remember the breakfasts we’d eat and the gifts we’d open. I remember the shows she loved and the coffee she drank. I remember the smell her house had.

Every year, I wish I had one last Christmas with her. That I could have one last Christmas to hear her laugh at Rex jumping off of her wheelchair. That we had one last Christmas Eve to eat her huge, very-unhealthy-but-very-good breakfast. That one last time I could hear her say, “Eat, honey. Eat ’til you’re full. Then eat some more. Eat slow and eat a lot.” That I could open up the refrigerator one last time and see all of the drinks she’d gotten…she always had your favorite good and cold.

Just one last time.

Joy for the Joyless

For so many people, Christmas is pure joy. Gifts. Family. Food. Relaxing. Celebrating.

But for some, Christmas is tough.

It’s a reminder of our pain.

Maybe you lost someone you loved, and every Christmas season you’re reminded.

Maybe you’re lonely, and all of the chatter about family, friends, and celebrations reminds you that you don’t have anyone. No family. No children. No spouse. Nobody to celebrate with Christmas morning.

Maybe you got fired during the holidays one year. Maybe your dream crumbled before your eyes.

If you have a family, and you’re able to see them on Christmas, you’re prone to forget about others’ loneliness.

If you haven’t lost someone you love this time of year, it’s easy to forget that others have.

If you have plenty, it’s easy to forget that others don’t.

This season, remember that Jesus came for the broken. The hopeless. The helpless. The shattered. The confused. The sick. The lonely. The angry. The depressed. The fakers. The weak. The ones in pain.

Jesus came for us.

He didn’t stay up in heaven and simply tell us he loved us. He entered our pain. He shifted our world. He came to be one of us, and offer us hope.

He doesn’t offer hope that this life is going to be easy, pain-free, and full of wealth. But He promises to be with us through it all.

Christmas reminds us of that. At Christmas, we see a God who’s not far off, but is near. A God who can sympathize with us in our weakness. (Hebrews 4:15) A God who doesn’t just let His creation groan in pain from afar, but through whom all things hold together.

For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross. – Colossians 1:19-20

Jesus came for us.

 

 

The Bloody Old Testament

In my bible reading plan right now, I’m reading through the book of Leviticus. Which is usually the graveyard of well-intentioned Bible reading plans, right? How many times have you made it to Leviticus, gaining momentum every day you read, utterly inspired and broken by the Scriptures, only to get stopped dead in your tracks with Leviticus 1, verse 4?

So basically, Leviticus is like a State Trooper that parks on the side of the interstate behind a tree, ready to get you when you least expect it.

leviticusburningaltar

image credit: University of Houston, Clear Lake

What I’ve found throughout the book, though, is that it’s bloody and nasty. There’s a lot of talk about blood entrails, and death. And there’s one reason for that: sin.

Your sin needed to be paid for by a sacrifice. In other words, your sin deserved death…either yours or something else’s. Because of this, there was a constant reminder of the nastiness and bloodiness and destructive nature of your sin.

Sneaking Some Sin In

When we ‘get away’ with a sin, we’re lulled into thinking that our sin isn’t that big of a deal. When you cheat a little and don’t get caught, you can think everything is ok. When you have a lustful thought, and nobody knows, you begin to devalue the powerful stranglehold that sin can have. You forget its potential for destruction.

Not so in the Old Testament system.

If you present a goat as your offering, bring it to the LORD, lay your hand on its head, and slaughter it in front of the Tabernacle. Aaron’s sons will then splatter the goat’s blood against all sides of the altar. – Leviticus 3:12-13, NLT

I have a 4 year old son. I can’t even imagine what kind of an impact witnessing an event like this would have on his life. It would absolutely scar him. Think of how violent this would be. The sights, the sounds (most animals don’t go “silently into the night”), the smells. The stench of death in the air that would hang around like a late-morning fog. The stain of blood on the hands and face of the priest. The residual stain of months, and years, of sacrifices made on the same altar. These sensory experiences don’t go in one ear and out the other. They stick with you, and mark you for life.

Loads of Hope

Reading through the Old Testament jogs us back to our senses about the weight of our sin. Sin destroys. And our sin deserves death. Every. Single. Time. Whether we’re caught or not. Whether we think we’ve slipped one through the cracks. Whether we see the path of burned trees we leave in our wake or not.

The flip side of that is even more true, for “where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.” (Romans 5:20)

The grace of God is beautiful. Not free. Not neat or clean. It is bought with blood and sweat and tears and pain. And it is gloriously beautiful.

Jesus paid our cost. His death leads to “justification and life for all men.” (Romans 5:18) That’s a reason to rejoice. And it’s worth saying again. Rejoice! (Re: Philippians 4:4) Jesus’ death pays for your sin no matter how far you’ve run. No matter how deep you’ve dug your hole. No matter how many people you’ve hurt or times you’ve fallen.

Be reminded of your stench. And the sweet smell of grace.

 

 

Don’t waste your pain

What does it look like to live a good story? Am I living a good story? Why does it matter? I’m blogging as a part of a series today for Prodigal Magazine on what it looks like to live a good story. You can catch the rest of the writers HERE.

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When I was in graduate school, my wife and I joined a small group. Small groups are supposed to be a place of safety, and trust, and growth and encouragement. A place where you form relationships that help you make sense out of life, pursue Jesus together, and enjoy friendship. That’s the bill we were sold, and we bought it. Every Sunday night, we’d trek across town, 35 minutes south, reading our small group study on the way to group (don’t judge us), praying we weren’t the first to be called on to answer a question. Praying we weren’t asked to sign a sheet of paper that said, “I read all of this week’s lesson…before I got in the car to come over here.”

For a season, everything was great. My wife and I were both in seminary, so getting ourselves out of the academic classroom was refreshing for us. As we focused on applying the Scriptures to our lives, we found the Bible coming alive once again.

When things go sideways

But then we had to miss group for 3 weeks in a row. We had to be out of town for various (and might I add, legitimate) reasons, and couldn’t make it to group. The moment I got back in town, our group leader called me, and said, “Ben, I noticed you and Laura have been absent from group for a while now…” and he just kind of let it hang out there, hoping that I would pour out my heart in confession. But I didn’t. I just made things more awkward, letting the silence hang, creating a thick air of tension. My main reason for the silence was because I had no idea what he was driving towards. He pointed out that Laura and I had been absent for a few weeks, questioning our commitment to the group and our integrity as individuals. He said that because of our spotty attendance, there were people in the group who didn’t trust us anymore.

“Because we missed 3 weeks?” I said.

“Yep.” he confidently returned.

He began to unpack his thoughts, calling my integrity into question because, “I just think you’re holding stuff back from the group, Ben…because when we share prayer requests, you don’t cry.”

I can’t even begin to tell you how frustrated I was…we thought we were committed to the group! “Ok…I get it. This is a joke, right? Joke’s on me! I almost fell for it,” I said.  But as I dug a little deeper, I found that there was a family in the group gossiping about us. They’d pull the leader to the side and plant little thoughts into our leader’s head, calling Laura and me into question. And as far as my lack of crying goes…I’m just not a cryer. Not that there’s anything wrong with guys crying…I make fun of those guys, but there’s nothing wrong with it. (that’s a joke…if you’re offended by that, then cry about it and I’ll make fun of you. :)) I’m not trying to be uber-tough, it’s just not my personality. But it was the personality of some of the guys in the group, and so, because nobody talked with me about this, space was created for people to think I was masking some deep pain. I wasn’t.

Over time, the leader began to believe the lies. Something that was absolutely benign, that could’ve been handled with one conversation, grew to a point where my wife and I were ready to be done with community. We were soon to move anyway, so we were just ready to check out of small groups altogether. Forever.

So we did. We walked away from this great gift God has given his people.

Until I got a call 2 years later from Grace Community Church to be their small groups pastor. Suddenly, this gift was placed back in my lap, and I had to wrestle through the risk of stepping back in, making myself vulnerable once again. I had to figure out whether I believed that biblical community was a gift…or a weapon. I had to discern if God was calling me to help others experience this weapon-gift or not.

4.5 years later, I can tell you with great certainty that I’ve found an area of life and ministry that I’ll give the rest of my life to promote. “Community” is a value that I hold in high regard. It was through frustration, though, that I found it. Had I not experienced the dark side of community, I wouldn’t value healthy, authentic, biblical community like I do.

Isn’t it funny how God works?

Isn’t it funny how God uses pain and frustration to shape who you’re becoming? How He uses an event or a relationship or a season of life to shake us to our core, and cause us to question so many things. And through that, mold us into who He created us to be.

I’m quick to pray the prayer, “God, please remove this suffering…I don’t like it.” But I have found that prayer, in my life, to be a reflection of an immature side of my faith. Instead, I’ve learned to pray, “God, through this suffering, give me eyes to see what you’re up to.” I wish I could say that my knee-jerk reaction to anything difficult in life is this prayer. Alas, I’m a work in progress.

It’s not wrong to ask God to remove pain. But through pain, don’t miss what God’s teaching you. Don’t miss the bigger picture that He’s up to, and how He’s ready and willing to use your pain to help others. (2 Corinthians 1:3-11)

Don’t waste your pain. Let God use it.

Question:

What pain, that you’re experiencing right now, might God be using to shape you into who He created you to be?

What pain, that you’re experiencing right now, might God use to change someone else’s view of life, difficulties, and Jesus?

 

 

Excuse me, your Gospel zipper is undone

The “middle” part of your salvation, what theologians call “progressive sanctification,” is more important right now than either justification* or glorification*.

Go ahead. Label me a heretic. It’s okay. You can use the hashtag #BenReedTheHeretic.

image via Creation Swap user Mirian Trinidad

It’s all talk

We tend to talk a lot about the beginning and end of salvation.

We love to (rightly) look backwards and remind ourselves of our sin and our story. Remind ourselves of our beautiful Savior.

We also love to (rightly) look forwards with hope, anticipating eternity in heaven.

But the most important part of your spiritual growth is not in looking back. It’s also not in looking forward. It’s in what you’re going to do now. 

In looking back on who Jesus is, what He did, and growing to understand his love and grace more doesn’t propel you to live differently, what good is it? ** If this dreaming back doesn’t leave you more generous, loving, forgiving, and full of grace, then has it done anything?

Looking backwards isn’t as important right now.

 

In looking forward with great hope in the second coming of Jesus, to the day when there will be no more tears or crying or pain, doesn’t mean you take more faith risks, then you’re just an idle dreamer. If you’re not consistently breathing hope into the life of others with your forward-reaching dreams, if you’re not progressively becoming more loving, more gracious, more hospitable, and less bitter, then what good are your mere daydreams? They’ve become a sort of twisted self-pleasing fantasy.

Looking forward isn’t as important right now.

The Glorious Middle

What’s important right now is the “glorious middle,” that part of your salvation that’s overlooked because it’s not sexy. It’s sexy to talk about what’s coming. It’s sexy to talk about what has passed. But what’s now is what we’re all experiencing, the doldrums of existence on earth. It’s picking the kids up from school. It’s being late for work. It’s getting sick. It’s dealing with loss and pain. It’s being financially strapped. It’s dealing with difficult relationships. It’s not ever having enough time.

It’s in those, shockingly normal activities, to which Paul says, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” (Philippians 2:12) How do I know that Paul’s referring to the mundane, everyday life here? Because he follows this command with, “Do all things without grumbling…” (Philippians 2:14) Nobody grumbles about heaven. Nobody grumbles about the great sacrifice Christ paid on our behalf. Either of those will get you kicked out of a deacon’s meeting faster than if a couple of poker chips were to fall out of your pocket.

Think deeply on who Jesus is, the depth and filthiness of your sin, and the glorious forgiveness that God offers us in Christ.

Think deeply on the promised life to come, eternity spent in the presence of God.

But don’t neglect the “glorious middle,” the glorious, yet unglamorously normal life that God has called you to right here and now.

That’s more important.

Don’t leave your Gospel zipper undone.

* justification – the moment when God declares you “just” before him, as a judge declares a criminal just and free. This happens the moment you place your faith in Christ.

* glorification – this will be your nature after death, where you will be made whole for eternity, in heaven with God.

** I’m not advocating salvation by works here. Salvation is by faith alone, in Christ alone. I’m talking about ongoing, progressive sanctification.

 *** image via Creation Swap user Mirian Trinidad

 

 

The powerful truth that defeats insecurities

photo credit: Creative Commons user Ingesting

Like that lonely thread all by itself that you pull on an old sweater, I found myself unraveling my calling recently.

It started off innocently enough, with someone pushing back on my theology. I didn’t get prickly or defensive. I went introspective. Let me try to get you in my mode of warped thinking.

Ever heard someone tell you how they hate they could only get to the gym twice this week and think, “Geez…quit saying I’m lazy!” Or maybe you’ve heard someone mention how they’ve switched to a new, healthy way of eating and all you hear is, “You’re so irresponsible with your diet!” Or maybe someone says, “I love getting up early to read my Bible” and all you hear is a heap of condemnation thrown your way.” They say one thing…you hear another.

The unraveling begins

That’s sort of what happened recently when I was questioned about my theology. Not “questioned” as in “What do you believe about ____.” Questioned as in, “Why would you ever say ____?!?”

The thread was hanging loose and I gave it a little tug, only to have more of the thread exposed. Another little pull left more thread in my hand. Another jerk and a hole appeared in the sleeve.

I started wondering, “Am I really a theologian? Do I even have any idea what I’m talking about?” I thought, “Has God really called me to ministry? Am I being effective? Have I ever been effective?” I let my mind wander: “Why would God call me into ministry? Why would He ever use me to lead people and communicate truth?”

I’m useless. I’m worthless. I have nothing to offer.

Feeding the lie

I stopped myself.

I was being fed a Lie. And I was tossing him more snacks. With every passing thought, that Lie was hastily burrowing itself into the fabric of my identity. My identity that is deeply rooted in Christ was being unraveled and dismantled, and I was watching it happen before my eyes.

If I didn’t do something quickly, the whole sweater was about to be a pile of thread in my hands.

So I did what you have to do if you want to stop the thread: I cut it off. I didn’t allow it to do more damage. I didn’t keep pondering the theological challenge. I didn’t keep feeding the Lie. I snipped it with a pair of scissors.

I can only think that if identity insecurities crop their nasty head up in my life, they do in yours, too. When we should find our identity in being called the King’s son, we often find it in

  • being a parent
  • our career
  • our church
  • our hobby
  • our insights
  • being right
  • our theology
  • our talents

Reorienting your identity

When someone questions one of those “identities,” the thread comes loose. You find yourself either lashing out in anger or turning inwards in deep introspection.

The answer to this spiral is to root your identity not in what you’ve earned, but in who God has declared you to be.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will… – Ephesians 1:3-5 (emphasis mine)

You’re a child of the King

No longer are you outsiders and foreigners and weird cousins. You’re now a son, with all of the inheritance and blessings that a son should receive. And nobody can take that name from you. Not even you.

Let that truth fight the Lie of insecurity for you.

* photo credit: Creative Commons user Ingesting

 

 

 

The power of a homely testimony

image credit: Creation Swap User Rob Gros

I grew up in a Christian home. My parents were, and still are, amazingly solid followers of Jesus. I look to them and, when I grow up, want to

  • Have a marriage like theirs
  • Follow Jesus like they do
  • Lead like they do
  • Find wisdom like they’ve found

They did a great job pointing me to Jesus and, at the ripe age of 6, I began following Him. I didn’t understand it all. But I understood enough to know that, without Jesus, I didn’t have a relationship with God. And I desperately wanted a relationship with Him!

So my journey began.

As I got into high school, I started hearing “those testimonies.” You know which ones I’m talking about. The radical conversions. The “I was a drug addict when I walked in tonight, and now I follow Jesus and I don’t even want for those drugs anymore.” The “I slept with every guy I looked at for 5 years…and now I love Jesus.”

Part of me, the sinful part of me for sure, wished I had a testimony like that. I mean, come on…I began following Jesus when I was 6. What kind of serious trouble can I get in by then? If I’d waited a few years, say, at least 10, maybe I could’ve added a bit of flair to my testimony. I wish I had a cool story. For a few reasons:

1. I bet they had a crazy amount of fun. Sure, it was empty. Sure, it didn’t ultimately satisfy. But dang, they had a good time doing it! (I know…don’t judge me. You’ve had those thoughts too). I know Christians can, and should, have fun, but…

2. They can look back on their life and assuredly say, “I’m different now that I follow Jesus.” From drugs to hugs. From passionate love with the opposite sex…to passionately following Jesus. From fights with classmates to fights with the devil. From…ok, I’ll stop. You get the picture.

That second reason really hung over me. And if I can be honest, some days it still tries to hook me in. “You’re not really different” I hear whispered. “What has Jesus really done in your life?” is shot my way. “Are you sure you’re following Jesus?” enters my doubt.

If I only had a sexy testimony!

The homely testimony

But wait. My testimony is sexy. It is radical. It is powerful.

Once I was lost, and now I’m found. Once I was an enemy, and now I’m a son. Once I was bent against God, and now He’s my friend. Once I was pointing towards an eternity apart from Jesus, and now eternity with Him has begun.

The radical part of anyone’s salvation isn’t the “sin” part. It’s not in highlighting the depth of depravity that the human soul can dive. It’s in highlighting the love of a beautiful King who’s kind enough to save a sinner like me. It’s in pointing people to a God who rescues the powerless. Pointing people to a God who is gracious enough to save someone who, at the age of 6, doesn’t even fully grasp the depth of His love. Someone who, at the age of 6, has no idea what life holds and how grace will be such a powerful part of it.

A word to the doubters

I share this because I know I’m not the only one who has doubts. I’m not the only one who doesn’t have a radical conversion story. I’m not the only one who has sinned more after I began following Jesus than before.

And I’m not the only one who needs a reminder that salvation is about highlighting the love of a good King whose willing and able to rescue.

Question:

Ever doubted?

*image credit: creation swap user Rob Gros

 

 

 

 

A better way to keep Christ in Christmas

Do people really want to leave Christ out of Christmas?

I don’t think so. Because if we did, we’d be left with just ‘mas.’ Which can’t work.

  • We wish you a merry mas.
  • All I want for mas is my two front teeth.
  • We’d invite people to our mas Eve service.
  • We’d watch National Lampoon’s mas Vacation.

Nobody wants that. Not even pagans. Because we all know that whether you’re a pagan or a Christian, you watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation at some point during this season.

With the myriad of distractions flying at us through the media, shopping, office parties, and traveling, we need reminders to keep Christ in Christmas, right? You’ve seen them on buttons, t-shirts-billboards, and yard signs.

CHRISTmas reminders

  • Jesus is the reason for the season.
  • Keep CHRIST in CHRISTmas.
  • No Christ. No Christmas. Know Christ. Know Christmas.
  • Christmas is about Jesus from long ago, not Santa trudging through the snow.

Maybe I made that last one up. But I’m not convinced that these types of reminders work. I also think that when you make it a personal mission to tell everyone you see, “Merry CHRISTmas” (over-dramatizing the “Christ” part), you don’t necessarily help your cause.

In fact, that’s offensive to many people.

“Shouldn’t that make us, the Church, upset?” you say. “It is our holiday, after all, right?” This holiday should be all about Jesus, so we should expect that everyone, even those who don’t follow Jesus, to honor him as Savior and Lord during the Christmas season, right? Oh wait…never mind…forcing someone to recite something they don’t believe isn’t necessarily helpful. Expecting that they’ll honor Jesus during December even though they don’t believe He is King may not be the best way.

Can I offer a better way?

Better CHRISTmas reminders

Maybe a better way to keep Christ in Christmas is to show people love. Even people that don’t deserve it.

Maybe a better way to keep Christ in Christmas is to pursue peace with people because God, through Jesus, has pursued peace with us. 

Maybe a better way to keep Christ in Christmas is to live joyfully in the midst of difficulty. Because we have a Savior who endured our suffering.

Maybe a better way to keep Christ in Christmas is to live generously. Because we serve a King who has given us salvation.

Maybe a better way to keep Christ in Christmas is to live our lives as if the God of the world sent his Son to call us His own.

But maybe I’m wrong.

Maybe we should just keep wearing our buttons. 

 

 

15 Christmas Ideas for your Small Group

image credit: creation swap user Matt Gruber

Lots of small groups take the Christmas season off. And that’s fine.

But if you’re one of the groups that really loves Jesus, you’re not taking the season off. You’re soldiering through like the little drummer boy who could. Massive traveling, family celebrating, and time off of work won’t slow you and your group down!

If you’re one of the groups that’s meeting throughout the month of December, you may be wondering what you can do that’s a little outside of the norm. I’ve got some suggestions.

15 Christmas Ideas for your Small Group

Fellowship:

Don’t feel bad about wanting to have fun together as a group this Christmas season. Having fun together is very biblical.

  •  Go caroling.
  • White elephant gift exchange. See explanation HERE.
  • Ornament exchange.
  • Pot luck with your favorite Christmas dish.
  • “Favorite book” exchange.
  • Celebrate with a gift exchange mid-January. That way, you can get gifts on sale, and extend the celebration of the birth of Jesus. Jesus would probably have loved a good sale. Am I right?!?

 Serving

  • Email your pastor for families in need, and serve them food and gifts.
  • Contact your local public school system and tell them you’d like to sponsor ___ families with food and gifts this Christmas. Ask them to connect you with the families.
  • Contact your local Salvation Army and sign up to ring the bell.
  • Write letters to soldiers who are deployed, if you live in a military town.
  • Bless your pastor. Examples: a gift card to Amazon, a night away for him and his wife, or a gift card to a nice local restaurant.

Worship/study

 Is your small group meeting for the Christmas season?

* image credit: creation swap user Matt Gruber

 

Defined by Grace

Photo Credit: Jon Ashcroft

There are many words that people can use to define you.

  • Young
  • Haughty
  • Mean
  • Depressed
  • Lost
  • Dumb
  • Bi-Polar
  • Driven
  • Angry
  • Obsessed
  • Liar
  • Cheater
  • Hyper
  • Boring
  • Addict
  • Divorced
  • Widowed
  • Scorned
  • Lazy
  • Thief
  • Loser
  • Used-to-be
  • Worn out
  • Beggar
  • Dreamer
  • Old
  • Out-of-shape
  • Bitter
  • Aloof

But did you know that you can choose how you’ll be defined? You don’t have to continue to wear the label you’ve been pinned. You don’t have to wear the hat that’s been forced on your head.

Those things don’t define you unless you let them.

I’m choosing my label. And my choice is “graced.”

Despite my past. Despite my failures. Despite my weaknesses. Despite my challenges and frustrations and “personality.”

I am defined by grace.

For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted  the church of God. But by God’s grace I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not ineffective. – Paul, 1 Corinthians 15:9-10

*photo credit: John Ashcroft via Creation Swap

 
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