Passionate Grace

Is it Any Wonder They Call it… Amazing Grace – a Ragamuffin Blog



A Calvinist Woman on Pastor Appreciation Month

October is Pastor Appreciation Month - Faith Outreach | Rochester, IN

I know this is pastor appreciation month. Having been in the church all my life and graduated from Bible College, I actually have connections with many pastors, whether I have sat under them or not. I want to encourage you all not to become weary in well-doing. Don’t get distracted by the chaos in the world. Keep teaching theology! The real deal—not watered down as though doctrine is too weighty for the average person, or that it needs to be couched in “relevance.” That is a vague term for which the meaning can be shifty, and it seems to me that many well-known leaders are losing their solid footing by trying to follow culture’s lead. I can attest to the fact that there is nothing more relevant than being steeped in solid doctrine (whether you’re 5 or 105!)—there is no philosophy or public speaking prowess that compares to being captivated by God Himself. Keep teaching the whole counsel of God. In the most difficult moments of my life, I have never been comforted by anything other than confidence in the sovereignty and goodness of God. When I am hurt by another person, my identity is not victim but sinner saved by grace—His grace toward me is the only enablement there is to forgive another. When I am grieving, I don’t want to be told how sad God is—yes, he cares for me as a loving father and comforts me in a supernatural way, but because I can trust his sovereign plan and I know that not a molecule in all the world is out of his control, I am comforted that He is God and I am not. Nothing He does is without purpose. God absolutely does give us more than we can handle, because he wants our confidence to be in Him rather than ourselves—difficulties are purposeful to turn our focus to Him. I dare say theology is the most practical teaching you can offer.

For instance, I have been pondering these past couple of weeks the fall of humanity into sin. How sin brought death into the world. I am struck that always blessing and cursing are connected. Even when the earth was cursed because of our sin, immediately the blessing of the promise of a Redeemer was given. I can think of no pain greater than the death of someone I love. But even this is a grace—physical death is only a picture of the horrible separation between humanity and God caused by our rebellion and sin. We couldn’t understand it any other way. It is meant to hurt, but not without purpose. Separation from our creator is eternal apart from God’s redemption through Jesus Christ. I am reminded as my heart aches how good God really is to have stepped in to rescue me out of my own deserved, eternal death (separation from God). Because of Christ’s sacrifice on my behalf, I am no longer cursed but redeemed and adopted as God’s child—promised eternal life because of Christ’s resurrection! Death is a moment to consider eternity. It was given so we would understand our true position toward God apart from Christ, and cause those of us who hope in Him to look eagerly for Christ’s glorious return and the glorification of our earthly bodies—we will be like Him because we will see Him as he is! This is where my grief and joy meet, and where my comfort lies. Theology is inherently practical.

This life is short, but it’s not all there is. Sometimes life hurts—a lot. But we have nothing better to offer our hurting world than a glimpse of the glory of God. Continue to teach solid, Biblical theology. Some will reject it. Teach it with boldness and joy anyway! Christ’s sheep will hear his voice and follow him. Scripture and a strong foundation in theology is the best way to live life with patience and hope. Scripture is not intended to be offered as platitude in times of trouble—the foundations must be laid ahead of time so we are not shaken when inevitable trouble comes. The Holy Spirit, our true Comforter, then uses what we know deeply to comfort us in a way no one else can. So, my pastor friends–keep on keeping on! We need it and appreciate it more than you know!

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Thanksgiving 2020

Grace – grace is stunning when you realize that you have been given something of great value, at great cost, that is not earned or deserved. Here I am sitting in a new and amazing house, surrounded by my family happily (mostly) playing together. Ben, Andrew and I took a walk around our new playground of Beasley Hill. Fresh in from the briskness of the walk, the house is warm – the counter full of freshly made pecan, apple, berry and pumpkin pie.

I was reading this morning in Deuteronomy 8…

Deuteronomy 8:11-17 (ESV) “Take care lest you forget the LORD your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today, lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, who led you through the great and terrifying wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water, who brought you water out of the flinty rock, who fed you in the wilderness with manna that your fathers did not know, that he might humble you and test you, to do you good in the end. Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’

It is hard for us as Americans to recognize that all we have has been “graced” to us. We value hard work that earns. And certainly we are called to work. But reality is that all that we have has not come by my hand but but His grace. It is the Lord who has made all things – who has given me the very breath I breathe – who has filled this world with good things like home, nature, family richly to be enjoyed. Even the ability to work and to provide for my family comes from His hand.

These joys fill my heart with gratitude but as great as they are they are surpassed by the incredible impossible reality that I am forgiven of my sins and accepted as a child of the King. This is undeserved. I am a sinner unworthy of my beautiful and incredible wife, undeserving of my family, graced with earthly joys beyond measure AND able to freely approach the throne of grace to obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

This access to the Father is granted to me and to all who trust in the name of Jesus and not our own goodness purely because of the grace of God.


A gift of great value… – Salvation where God comes all that way down to me to rescue me

That comes at great cost… – Christ died the death I deserved – not to make a way for me to climb my way to Him but to bring me to life

To the undeserving. – Jesus said he didn’t come to those who have no need of a doctor but to the sick who are unable to rescue themselves.

Reality is we are all sick and unable to save ourselves but the question is will we continue to try to climb the ladder to goodness and God or surrender to the reality that He has come down to us. I am grateful this Thanksgiving that God doesn’t give up on me and that He in grace is willing to save wretches because I am one.

Happy Thanksgiving friends!

Covington Catholic, Our Sick Culture, and Hope

This story keeps on deepening. (If you haven’t followed the story read through the link at the bottom of this article) The latest is a response from a guy whose brother happened to look like the kid from the Catholic school. His name was put on social media and as a result his family and his family’s business have been subject to non-stop attacks. Threats of physical attack, slander of the family and the family business in an attempt (perhaps successful) of destroying a family because a member of the family was inaccurately identified as the student in the video. This family has no connection at all to the events on the video but their lives are threatened.

This is the “reasoned” response to a young man smiling oddly and remaining in an individual’s personal space after his own had been invaded. I “know” the smile radiated “evil” of the darkest kind – but even if you interpret the smile in that way the reaction has been far more evil.

Social and instant media can create this kind of mob think – where we act (at least for most of us I hope) against what we would otherwise know to be an unwise, ill-considered course of action. All of us (myself included) would be wise to not take the click bait. No matter which news source you prefer there is almost always a slant – a bias – driving it.

I quoted a proverb yesterday that says “”The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.”

We can do better on both sides of the aisle at not just looking for confirmation of our biases. In the case in question if you hate Trump the MAGA hats make you look at the situation in a certain light. They same thing happens the other way.

Instead of further pushing us apart as a people this could be an event to draw us together. Perhaps we will be not so quick to judge – not so quick to demand retributation. We could admit that we are all at times wrong in our judgement or rash in our response and we could extend grace to each other. Not just when our judgement is in error but grace even in the face of actual wrong.

If we are honest with ourselves – and if all that we have ever thought or done was broadcast on twitter for the world to see and judge we would all be found guilty. I know I would be.

Jesus’ message to the world is -yes you are guilty – more than you probably recognize or want to admit – and when compared to God we all stand guilty and worthy of death and hell.

But God has another word – it is called the Gospel – Good News – and that is the perfect One – our creator became a part of his creation to redeem us. He died the death we deserve to rescue us – to restore us to his good design for humanity. So yes more guilty that I dare admit AND more loved that I thought possible.

When I am honest about who I am and when I see that despite who I am God has loved me, forgiven me and adopted me as his child – I am freed by His grace to extend grace to others with whom I disagree or who even hate me.

If there is to be a change in this country – a reconcillation – it will come with the rediscovery of this Good News – that though grossly undeserving God has forgiven and received me. If we were to fall on our faces as a country and acknowledge our sin we would begin to recognize the sweet notes of the Good News that Christ has come for sinners. And if that were to soak into our national conscience and we believed it to be true our country I believe would experience a new birth of freedom.

Note: The best summary of the events is at this LINK

Brief Thoughts on Acts 9


The bent of Paul’s heart to rage against God is the same bent of every heart apart from awakening grace.

The need of Paul to be knocked off his horse by the blinding light of the Lord is not a “Paul” need. God must reveal himself or we perish.

The response of faith in Paul once the Lord revealed himself personally to Paul, is the same response everyone has when the Lord reveals himself to you. Faith

Believers are all “chosen instruments.”

“And when he (Paul) had come to Jerusalem” Paul went to the church where it all started. The place he had approved of the murder of one of its deacons. Paul attended church in a place where he had murdered one of the beloved congregants. What amazing power the Gospel has to reconcile the vilest offender.

The church was multiplied as it Walked in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit.

When illness and death struck a church member, Peter an apostle was called by disciples of the Lord, and Peter raised her from the dead. By this means the gospel was spread throughout Joppa and many believed.


1) Thank you Father, for calling me – saving me, how I sense my desperate and wicked heart apart from Your saving grace. I am unworthy but grace to be a chosen instrument

2) Lord Let me embrace the vile, love sinners, trust the greatness of your call and your gospel as I encounter the broken.

3) Lead my heart to the fear and comfort of the Lord that your name may be magnified in my life.

4) Lord do the necessary miracles to spread your Good News in Moses Lake so that many will believe.

What is the Christian Gospel?


What is the Gospel?

“God is Holy” – God is perfect in all of his attributes – glorious in all that he does. He is set apart – unique – His ways are not our ways, His thoughts are not our thoughts. He dwells in pure radiant unapproachable light. Nothing and no one can stand in His presence.

“We are not Holy” – We are messed up people. We lie. We cheat. We lust. We steal. We are angry. We hold grudges. We are selfish. We are arrogant. We gossip. We do not honor God. We do not love God.

“The Penalty for Sin is Death” – That’s bad news for everyone reading this, because we are all sinners – God doesn’t weigh our “good” and our “bad.” He declares that if we have ever violated his holy law in one place we stand guilty of violating all of His law and are subject to condemnation. We have violated in many places and our just penalty is eternal death in hell. Don’t let yourself deny this reality. Acknowledge your guilt before an infinitely holy God.

“Jesus Died the Death We Deserve” – Jesus is God in human form. He came to the earth, born of the virgin Mary and lived a sinless life. Even though he was God he laid aside the splendors of heaven and became a man and dwelt among us. He humbled himself and died a torturous death on the cross though he himself was innocent. In his death he paid the penalty required for sin – he became our substitute. Though we are the sinful ones, He took our sins on himself. Though we deserve the sentence of death, he died our death in our place.

“God Gives Us Jesus’ Life by Faith and Not by Works” – Not only did Christ’s death pay our penalty, but for all those who receive Him, God gives them the righteousness (perfection) of Jesus. So when we give up trying to prove ourselves good to God and instead acknowledge that we are broken sinners in need of a dramatic rescue – there is hope. God Himself has died for us paying our penalty and by his grace through faith imparts to us his perfection. For all who believe in Jesus stand not condemned not because we are good but because He is and He has given his righteousness by faith.

“Faith is Casting Yourself on the Lord” – As you consider these things – God’s holiness, your sinfulness, sin’s penalty and Jesus’ payment – you will be tempted to think is that really true? Is it really enough that Christ died for me a sinner? I have to contribute something don’t I? I am still tempted by these thoughts even though I have been a Christian for many years. But the truth declared in Scripture stands that salvation comes not to the one who works or is good, but to sinners who cast themselves fully on the grace and mercy of our Savior Jesus Christ who died to take away the sin of the world!

Isaiah 53:4-6:
Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows
yet we esteemed him stricken
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions;
He was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace.
and with his stripes we are healed
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned – every one – to his own way;
And the Lord has laid on him
The iniquity of us all

Romans 6:23
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 4:4-5
Now to the one that works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work, but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness.

II Corinthians 5:21
For our sake he (God) made him (Jesus) to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him (Jesus) we might become the righteousness of God.

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Grace is Practical


You don’t have to have your eyes open very wide to realize there is something horribly wrong in the world. I recently picked up a book given to my oldest son Steven by his teacher – Mrs. Copley. It is titled simply “Night” and the book describes the horrors of a young Jewish boy by the name of Elie Wiesel trapped in Nazi concentration camps. The book describesJewish captives being forced to dig their own graves while Nazi soldiers shot their children and then the parents themselves. Elie had a mentor by the name of Francois Mauriac whom he asked to write the forward of his book describing his experience. Mauriac in attempting to understand what young Elie had to endure wrote,

“Let us try to imagine what goes on in his mind as his eyes watch rings of black smoke unfurl in the sky, smoke that emanates from the furnaces into which his little sister and his mother had been thrown after thousands of other victims.”

The thought is unfathomably awful. That was less than 70 years ago. Elie was with us until just a few months ago.

Continue reading “Grace is Practical”

Every Good Story…


Here is what I have noticed about every story– there must be a plight. There must be a peril to be rescued from – Kirk must have Klingons endangering the Enterprise or there is no story – there is no glory – there is no rescue. Can you imagine Superman flying at the speed of light – shadow boxing – “don’t be afraid – I’m here to save the day” if there were no bad guys – if there was nothing to be rescued from? You would think that guy is crazy. What is he doing? Saved me from what? Continue reading “Every Good Story…”

Come & Dine With Me


I had this picture come to mind on Sunday while in church.

You remember the scene in the movie Hook with Robin Williams where he has met the Lost Boys and he sits down at the end of a very long day to what he thinks is going to be a glorious meal, but when the lids come off there is nothing. Peter is starving – dying for something to eat, but he can’t see the food.  We are like this sometimes.

Continue reading “Come & Dine With Me”

Nothing in this World…

There is a God who if you “be good” he will help you feel good = Moralistic Therapeutic Deism NOT the Christian Gospel.

Instead Christianity says

There is a God, who seeing the evil of mankind, sent his own Son, Jesus, as a man to suffer and die in their place so that all who are willing to abandon their own goodness and bank their lives on the goodness of God, will obtain a great treasure – Jesus Christ himself.

This does not mean that life will be easy or you will feel good all the time. What it does mean is that nothing in this world – terrorism, poverty, divorce, loneliness, suffering, even death itself – is able to separate you from the love of God.

The Gospel – Destination to Inception


1) Jesus is our destination – Knowing Him is our highest good and joy. He is what our souls were designed for and crave. Rom 5:11 Continue reading “The Gospel – Destination to Inception”

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