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Passionate Grace

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

The Valley of Achor – A Doorway To Hope

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Joshua 7:24: “And Joshua and all Israel with him took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver and the cloak and the bar of gold, and his sons and daughters and his oxen and donkeys and sheep and his tent and all that he had. And they brought them up to the Valley of Achor. And Joshua said, “Why did you bring trouble on us? The LORD brings trouble on you today.” And all Israel stoned him with stones. They burned them with fire and stoned them with stones. And they raised over him a great heap of stones that remains to this day. Then the LORD turned from his burning anger. Therefore, to this day the name of that place is called the Valley of Achor.”
Hosea 2:15 – “I will make the valley of Achor (which means trouble) a doorway to Hope.”
Some of you need hope. For some of you everything looks dark – you have tried for so long to deliver yourself and you despair that there is any hope for you. You long for a hero– for a rescuer – for a Substitute but doubt that anyone really cares. And yet no matter how dark your past – no matter how bleak your future seems – God desires in this moment to enter your valley of Achor and deliver you from your debt of sin. For the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. So I want to lift up before you today – Jesus Christ – the perfection of God – He was broken for you! He was slain for you! He will not reject you because of what you have done and he will not receive you because of the good you do – NO! With grace there is no merit except His – You can rest in his perfection for you – You can trust that in His dying your debt was paid – He is a willing Savior.
Surrender and come delight yourself in Jesus and his work for you on the cross. Today is the day of Salvation.
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Cuba, Castro, Kaepernick and Cabdrivers

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I asked my Cuban-born cab driver how he felt about Castro dying
He said, “I don’t care that he died.”
I asked him if he thought things would be different in Cuba
He said, “No way – the people ruling are too hungry for power.”
I asked him about Colin Kaepernick.
He said, “Who?”
I told him the NFL quarterback who supports Castro.

He still didn’t know about him so I told him about Kaepernick and he had this perfect response.
“The great thing about America is that you can think whatever you want and it is ok.  I couldn’t do that in Cuba.  But I think this quarterback is a great fool and doesn’t know what he is talking about.”
Made my day!

For What Does My Heart Sing? A Thanksgiving Meditation

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Here it is Thanksgiving morning again.  The family is still asleep.  It is quiet and my mind is turning over the question, “What am I truly thankful for?” For what does my heart sing in gratitude and delight? Continue reading “For What Does My Heart Sing? A Thanksgiving Meditation”

Was Hillary Robbed? Why the Electoral College Makes Sense.

Let’s keep this as simple as possible.

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The first principle that needs to be understood is that when our founding fathers were setting the shape of this country there was great concern that states maintain their rights and equal representation. So two houses of congress were formed. The House of Representatives which is comprised of members proportionate to the population of each state. And the upper body, the Senate, which has 2 senators from each state regardless of population. This was to protect the rights of smaller states. This is a long-standing tradition of protecting the rights of the underdog in this country.

The electoral college functions in much the same way. By way of example suppose we hypothesize with only 4 states. Suppose California had a population of 4 million and received 4 electoral college votes. Florida has a population of 3 million and receives 3 electoral votes. Washington receives 2 votes for it’s 2 million and Maine receives 1 vote for its 1 million.

Now suppose in California 70% of the population love and vote for Hillary. That’s 2.8 Million votes for Hillary and 1.2 Million for Trump.
Then the other 3 states vote solidly for Trump at 60% for Trump. That would be 3.6 Million votes for Trump and 2.4 Million for Hillary. So the interests of 3 of 4 states would solidly be in favor of Trump and the electoral vote would be 6 for Trump and 4 for Hillary.

But if we used pure popular vote it would be 5.2 million for Hillary and 4.8 Million for Trump and Hillary would win. Now you may think Hillary should win in this scenario because she received the most votes, but if she won the will of 3 of 4 states would be disregarded for the sake of one state simply because of its population advantage. So the Electoral college is the best solution for having a measure of influence based on population size while maintaining appropriate rights and influence for each individual state.

If you are on the losing side of this race you may not like it, but this system is vastly superior to letting highly populous states have all the decision-making ability for every other state.

Note: the actual way electoral college voters are distributed are by the number of federal congresspeople in each state. So Washington State has 10 representatives (based on population) and 2 senators so 12 total Electoral College votes.  

What Manner of Love!

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Tonight I dreamed.

In my dream my Dad, with whom I’m very close, was ill Continue reading “What Manner of Love!”

The Passing Darkness in the Already Shinning Light

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I John 2:8 “Because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shinning.”
There seems to me to be a great chasm between my most holy and righteous works and God’s righteousness. It is a chasm unscalable by my great discipline or willpower or ability. It is infinitely high I cannot get there. The law – the command – that I must get there is not meant to imply that I can, simply that I must. And if I don’t destruction awaits. Continue reading “The Passing Darkness in the Already Shinning Light”

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Do Not Fear – God Controls the Waves

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We tend to think of this world as something God wound up and set in order but that He does not involve Himself directly in everything that happens. Often we say this to “protect” God from being accused of being evil or unjust when a natural disaster strikes. That wasn’t God – that was just the earth being the earth. You will not find this language in the Bible and would be hard pressed even to tease out that kind of implication from Scripture. God is not afraid Continue reading “Do Not Fear – God Controls the Waves”

Only Trump vs Never Trump

I think some of the differences lie in

1) Only Trumpers consider Hillary to be way more evil than Trump – While never Trumpers think it is impossible to distinguish.

2) Only Trumpers believe that Trump will do what he says and is committed to a conservative course of action this is why you overlook his character deficiencies for the sake of his policies – While never Trumpers consider him to have zero credibility to do what he says he will do and maintain that his one commitment is to himself. He is not operating off of principles he believes but off of what he believes will advance himself and his personal agenda. And he will use whatever force he can including lying to accomplish it.

3) Only Trumpers appreciate Trump’s strong-armed approach ie if you disagree with me or resist me I will threaten to sue you – I will discredit everything about you via personal attacks, not facts – I will attempt to manipulate the press to undermine you. You consider his attacks candor and political incorrectness and take it as proof that he is not an insider and can’t be bought or sold. Never Trumpers see this behavior as feckless, with anti-American totalitarian instincts not dissimilar from Obama’s “screw you I’m going to issue an executive order” but with less intelligence and even more potential for damage.

4) Only Trumpers believe no matter what horrible character flaws Trump may have we must vote for him because a democrat is always worse. Never Trumpers feel that Trump as the standard bearer for conservatism or even republicanism has the potential to do more damage to conservatives than a Hillary presidency because the litany of stupid things he will say or do he will do in my name as a conservative. The litany of stupid things Hillary will do will be done in the name of liberalism. I am not suggesting here that I would have rather given up the presidency to let Hillary shoot herself in the foot but since we are down to these two choices and believing what I do about Trump I cannot see an iota of good than can come from voting Hillary or Trump.

Does God Need My Service?

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“God is not served by human hands as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. ”

Been thinking about this text for a while. Lots of implications but I’ll just give you a little of what I’ve been mulling lately.

God is not as interested in my activity for him as my faithfulness to him. I tend to think the other way…”maybe I haven’t been as faithful as I would have wanted, maybe I haven’t loved him the way I should, but at least I did _____ activity for him. I really helped him out there.”  Continue reading “Does God Need My Service?”

Grace is Practical

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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. Continue reading “Grace is Practical”

Dealing With Worry – A Meditation on Isaiah 31-32

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Meditation on Isaiah 31-32
Worry reveals my doubt in the Lord’s sovereignty and/or His goodness. When I worry I am constantly hatching new schemes to fix my own problems. When things go wrong I tend to utilize other resources – usually myself – rather than depending on God.
But God says – “Woe to those who go down to Egypt and rely on horses.. but do not look to the Holy one of Israel.”

How to Love God – Part 2

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How to Love God Part 2

John Bunyan: “When God brings sinners into the covenant of grace, he doth first kill them with the covenant of works, which is the moral law, or ten commandments.”

To sum up yesterday’s post I argued that the main work of the law is to reveal God’s holiness and righteous standard and to then apply that standard of holiness to us in order to show our sinfulness. I proposed that even the command we think of us a softer New Testament command, namely to love, actually comes from the Old Testament and Jesus’ interpretation is even more difficult. I also said that the law of God is not able to change us by itself, but that its main job is to reveal to our hearts our sinfulness and push us to Christ for righteousness that comes through faith.  Continue reading “How to Love God – Part 2”

How to Love God – Part 1

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How to Love God

And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” Luke 10:25-27

We often think of the above text as a New Testament command – a softer summation of the Old Testament laws. But actually the lawyer was quoting the Old Testament. Continue reading “How to Love God – Part 1”

Black Lives Matter – Words vs. the Movement

I agree that black lives matter and matter greatly. I disagree with the movement, Black Lives Matter. Continue reading “Black Lives Matter – Words vs. the Movement”

Do Your Best and God Will Do The Rest?

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To the extent the Law of God is made attainable with statements like

– do your best and God will do the rest – we not only cheapen what the law says we lose grace in the process.

The law clearly says “your best efforts” are not going to be sufficient – more than that they are only going to serve to condemn you. God is not saying for us to do what we can and whatever we can’t do he will make up the difference. Instead he is saying our best efforts are tainted with sin and instead of calling us to work our way up to him by doing better he calls us to Faith in the Perfect One. Continue reading “Do Your Best and God Will Do The Rest?”

Morning Mercies in the Word

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I am increasingly appreciative of the Word. It has a way of speaking by the Holy Spirit that nothing else can do. I don’t know about you but there are a lot of other voices in my head – and the Word of God is able to transcend them and speak with clarity words of correction – words of hope – words of beauty and glory that I would not otherwise hear. Into a world filled with relativity and homespun, self-serving philosophies the Word of God is an anchor of truth. It is like a bright beacon of light cutting through the fog on my own thoughts and the muddle of this world.  Continue reading “Morning Mercies in the Word”

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

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‘Twas the night before Christmas – no not the one with tinsel and bows and Christmas trees – the one over 2000 years ago. Almost no one knew what was coming and even those that had an inkling did not understand the magnitude of the moment.

For most people it was just an ordinary night. No baited breath for what presents might be opened the next day. No day off work. Just an everyday day. The world was teetering on the edge of the most remarkable event in its history Continue reading “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”

Does God Ordain Evil?

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Observation on God’s sovereignty in today’s Bible reading:

1) Jeremiah 1 “Now the word of the Lord came to me saying, ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

God’s sovereign choice does not mean Jeremiah is a robot (without will and incapable demerit or merit) Jeremiah has a will but it is a contingent will not a sovereign or free will that God alone has. Continue reading “Does God Ordain Evil?”

Every Good Story…

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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…”

Sovereign God or Sovereign Me?

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In Isaiah, Assyria is “the rod of God’s anger” against a godless nation. And God uses them to plunder and spoil the “people of his wrath.” And when God has completed his appointed purpose for the nation of Assyria,
Assyria says,

“By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom, for I have understanding; I remove the boundaries of peoples and plunder their treasures; like a bull I bring down those who sit on thrones.”

God says he will punish the arrogant heart of the King of Assyria and replies:

“Shall an axe boast over him who hews with it, or the saw magnify itself against him who wields it? As if a rod should wield him who lifts it, or as if a staff should lift him who is not wood!”

“Behold, the Lord God of Hosts will lop the boughs with terrifying power; the great in height will be hewn down, and the lofty will be brought low.”

How often have you said, “by the strength of my hand or my wisdom I have done it?” God replies, “Oh really – you have done it? You are an instrument in my hand to do with what I please. Will you give me the glory due my name or continue to claim that you are the greatest “axe handle” in the history of the world?”

Who do you worship a Sovereign God or a Sovereign Me?

Does God Control Lightning Strikes?

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Philip Yancey writes in his book on prayer, “A hundred times a second lightning strikes somewhere on earth, and I for one do not believe God personally programs each course.” Why does Yancey say this? Why would it bother him if God was planning the path of every lightning bolt? Is he concerned about God being a micromanager? Is he concerned about God be accused of destroying or killing with lightning? Does he feel randomness to be more comforting than a God who destroys? Continue reading “Does God Control Lightning Strikes?”

God’s Will – Man’s Will

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  1. I believe every person who sees the depth of their need and the beauty of Christ will willingly come to Christ
  2. I believe that no one is able or willing to see the depths of their sin or the beauty of Christ unless God reveals it to them.
  3. I believe God reveals a man’s sin and Christ’s beauty to those He calls.
  4. I believe that everyone the Father wills to call will believe
  5. I believe that all who believe choose willingly to do so because God has shown himself as beautiful.
  6. I believe God has good purposes in not revealing Himself as beautiful to every person

6 is probably the least palatable to the church, but it is most clearly stated in Romans 9

Crying Out in the Darkness Psalm 107 – a Meditation

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Life feels sometimes like I’m wandering in a vast desert with no place to rest.

Sometimes it feels like my life is ebbing way in a hopeless search for satisfaction.

Sometimes all seems dark and it seems I will never find the light. I keep on trying to find my own way out of the darkness because I feel there is no one else I can really trust.

But then I realize I can’t even trust myself because I pursue my own selfish and sinful ends. And though I know my sin harms me I follow it to the gates of death.

To add insult to injury life is so hard. Friends die. Sickness hits. Finances are always a struggle. Parenting. Marriage. I feel often at my wit’s end. Continue reading “Crying Out in the Darkness Psalm 107 – a Meditation”

Should I Be Happy or Holy? – Hint: The Answer Starts With an “H”

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TRUE OR FALSE
“God doesn’t care if you are happy. He cares that you are holy.”

I know this post is a little longer than normal but sometimes it takes few paragraphs to say something! So in the spirit of Shakespeare’s Polonius statement “As brevity is the soul of wit…. I continue.”
Continue reading “Should I Be Happy or Holy? – Hint: The Answer Starts With an “H””

Jesus VS The Olive Garden

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I’m sitting in an Olive Garden in Bloomington, IL. My thoughts of what heaven will be like do not much exceed this. Continue reading “Jesus VS The Olive Garden”

Is Transformation the Highest End for Which We Were Made?

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If we shine the light too brightly that Christianity is mainly about personal transformation – we create a hierarchy that encourages people’s natural inclination to push their sin underground and pretend to be more than they are. If we, instead, shine the light brightly on the beauty of Jesus – His Holiness – His Compassion – His Glory – His Grace – His Work on the Cross – His Resurrection – His Rescue of Sinful People perhaps we in church would quit our introspective, self-focused, navel gazing, and our mask-wearing, self-deceptive posturing. We could lift our gaze outside of ourselves to worship and glory in a God who loves sinners. We could focus our energies on knowing Him and delivering the same good news we have received to our friends. And then perhaps true transformation would occur as well.

When Being a Good Sailor is Not Enough

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The law is like a man in a sailboat with a sailing instruction manual. He knows what proper sailing is – He may even possess a lot of technology to aid him in sailing. But his knowledge and tech cannot move him across the water. Only wind can do that. So we must stop preaching the law for change. We must stop running to the law to make us good sailors. Only the gospel can fill our sails with wind. The grace of the Father in rescuing sinners by the blood of Jesus is the good news – is the gospel. Oh Spirit, breathe your wind in our sails!

Come & Dine With Me

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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”

Delighting in the Truth and Power of God’s Word

I believe and affirm that the Bible is true in all it asserts and denies. That it is reliable and worthy of my confidence and wholehearted dependence. I affirm that it should be interpreted with a common sense (literal) hermeneutic which means simply that the plain meaning of the text is accurate. This does not mean there is not metaphor or simile Continue reading “Delighting in the Truth and Power of God’s Word”

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