Passionate Grace

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

How to Love God – Part 1


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?


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


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


‘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?


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…


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?


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?


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


  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

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”


“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


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?


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


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


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”

Ode to Baseball and Ken Griffey Jr

The Kid. Junior. Goofy Smile. Sweetest swing you have ever seen. Tomorrow an all-time great – the greatest player I’ve watched in person play – Ken Griffey Jr will take his rightful place among the best of the best. I’ll be watching with an old friend Continue reading “Ode to Baseball and Ken Griffey Jr”

The Ultimate Benefit of the Gospel

At the center of the good news of the gospel is Jesus Christ.

The ultimate benefit of the gospel is not that we can now do good works, or that we won’t go to hell, or even that our sins our forgiven as great as all those things are– the ultimate benefit is Continue reading “The Ultimate Benefit of the Gospel”

Marriage & Divorce


DisclaimerChristie and I just celebrated 20 years of marriage.  It has been good and sweet and difficult and humbling.  Please don’t despair from the happy picture, there are many times it has been ugly.  The statement below is what I have been convinced of from Scripture.  I truly believe that God is able to keep you in your marriage even through extreme difficulty.  

Marriage is a picture of Jesus’ covenant-keeping love for His bride. The radicalness of the love of Christ is pictured many ways – Jesus’ death on the cross for hell-bent sinners being number one.

Continue reading “Marriage & Divorce”

Creation and The Fall – A Dramatic Reading


Brilliant light – light so pure and piercing – light radiating in an incomprehensible spectrum – light so bright as to be unapproachable.

In the midst of the light, on a throne, high and lifted up – the God of gods and the King of kings – the Lord of all the hosts of heaven – the most high and glorious One sits in radiant splendor.

In complete harmony and joyful anticipation, the Father in His transcendence, the Son in His majesty and the Spirit in His unrestrained might stand to deliver the proclamation.

The mighty Seraphim’s chant of “Holy, Holy, Holy” crescendos in power and intensity. The surrounding angelic host have trumpets poised over trembling lips.

Then with a voice thunderous as the rush of thousands of crashing waves and raging rivers and so powerful that none of the angelic host remains standing, Jehovah speaks Continue reading “Creation and The Fall – A Dramatic Reading”

The Cross Speaks


Dean Koontz: “Everyone talks about justice, but there can be no justice where there is no truth, and these are times when truth is seldom recognized and often despised.”

If you grew up in a conservative Christian culture like I did you probably feel as if the world is coming undone. Continue reading “The Cross Speaks”

Beholding the Beauty and Glory of the Lord



There is one way and only one way that we are sanctified and that is by beholding the beauty and glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
Continue reading “Beholding the Beauty and Glory of the Lord”

Fairy Tale Church


What if church were a place where…

…people felt the weight of their own sin more than yours
…the undeserved grace of God was experienced so strongly that you were truly loved despite your failures and flaws
…you could confess your faults and reveal all the is ugly about yourself with brutal honesty without fear of rejection or censure
…others celebrate the new creation God is still forming in you
…you were forgiven without hesitation because of your value in Christ
…living unreconciled was not even a thought because of the love of Christ
…others volunteered to help bear your burdens
…people gladly gave their time, their money, their ears (to listen not to fix), their whole lives to serve each other
…true community – genuine relationship were the norm, not the exception
… unbelievers and believers, “bad sinners” and sinning saints were equally received and grace was given without measurement

It begins with you – giving based on what Christ has given you rather than on what the other person deserves.

A real passion for each other and Christ stems from experiencing God’s genuine passion for us. Continue reading “Fairy Tale Church”

How to Love Sinners – God and Homosexuality


Love does not require that one accepts everything about a person. True love may require, in fact, that we speak to someone about the error of their ways.

As a parent, if my child wants to play on the railroad tracks, it is, in fact, unloving if I say “Sure, honey, do whatever you want.” If I correct my child for doing something that is harmful to them – it is not a rejection of them as a person if I seek to stop them from doing what they want to do. It is because I care for them that I tell them not to play on the railroad tracks. Continue reading “How to Love Sinners – God and Homosexuality”

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”

#Never Trump is not immoral


I do not think a person needs to be perfect to be president of the United States. I certainly am not. But neither do I believe they are qualified if they shamelessly and repeatedly make their sin their glory and boast. It is for this reason, I cannot Continue reading “#Never Trump is not immoral”

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