Tag Archive for grace

Advancing The Ball

football fieldCreating Community Is A Game Of Inches

I love the game of football. It has everything you could wish for in a sport. Of all the things I have learned about the game, one of the most important is that it is a game of inches. There are big plays occasionally where a quarterback will pass for 30 or 40 yards, or a running back will find a hole and run for 50+ yards but, the majority of the plays go yard by yard.

Creating creating community is also a game of inches. One of the main reasons for this is that it requires change and change, especially in the church, doesn’t come easy. Your resolve to see community happen in your church may be realized in a painstakingly slow manner but you have to keep in mind that slow progress is progress nonetheless.

This is hard for me. I like to come in like a bull in a china shop and really stir things up. I want people to see how right I am. I want to be the coach that calls for the QB to throw for 50 yards. I am learning that this is not a wise way to live.

The best way is to look at the few yards that lie before you. Is there a need? Who can I be family to today? What grace can I show someone else today? These are the questions I need to ask myself. Oh, I still pray that God will give me that great touchdown opportunity, but in the meantime my business is just advancing the ball.

My Top 3 Reasons Why I Don’t Want To Live In Community

Editor’s Comment: This is a guest post written by one of my sisters in Christ, Mrs. Leslie Washburn. In my post last week entitled Turning A Page I said that I intend for this blog to be more of a community blog and so here is the walk for my talk. I want to thank Leslie for being courageous enough to do this and I urge you to learn more about her at the end of this post.

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Hand-up Back AwayIf you’ve been reading this blog, you have a good understanding on what it means to live in community and the Biblical reasons for doing so. I believe these reasons absolutely and the Spirit has been working in my life (and by my life, I mean the life of my husband and I) to ingrain these truths on my heart. I love the idea of living as community, I think it honors Christ and shows a beautiful picture of grace and the gospel to those inside the community and those seeing it from outside. But, the problem is, living in Biblical community is hard. It hurts and it takes a lot of effort, so I’m posting my top 3 reasons why I don’t want to live in community, in no particular order.

 

1 – I have to let people in

2 – I have to get over myself

3 – I have to love other people

 

I have to let people in.

Try as I might, community isn’t possible alone, or even effectively with 2 people (sorry hubby). So, for me to live in community, I have to let other people into my life. This gets scary and hard in a hurry. This means I have to get to know people, and not on a surface level what’s your name/age/occupation. I have to really get to know them. When they ask me how I’m doing, I can’t give my pre-programmed “fine”. I have to ask questions about their lives and care about their responses. Spend time sharing life with them, learn who they are as a person, and what the Lord is doing in their lives. Actually listen while they talk, become intimate friends and trust them.

 

Whoa. Time out. Trust them? Yep, I said it. To me, apart from the gospel, trust is the largest (and hardest) building block for community. You see, my problem is, as great as people are, they’re not perfect. So this means at some point or another, this person is more than likely going to hurt/disappoint/fail me. I’m not being pessimistic here, just realistic. (And I know enough about my own heart and past to know that it’s been true of me, and I don’t think it’s an isolated issue with myself.) Now I have to let someone in to my life, share intimately with them, all the while knowing this non-perfect thing is true? And I have to be trustworthy for them? And I have to look at them as righteous and forgiven because Christ bought it for them? Yep. Ohhh man.

 

I have to get over myself.

Living in community requires open, honest, authentic relationships between its members, so to be in community, I have to live an open, honest, and authentic life. The carefully constructed bubble to show only the best side of myself that I’ve been perfecting since I was a child has to burst, and honestly, I’m not sure I want it to. I like my bubble. I like people only thinking great things about me, the things I want them to think about because it’s all I’ve shown them. I like looking great on the outside because the inside isn’t so pretty most of the time. Living without the bubble is scary, and it carries serious consequences for how I live my life from here on out.

 

Living without the bubble means no more hiding behind the facades that have so long been my protection. My sin is open before my own eyes and the eyes of others. They know my secret, that I’m not really that great, that I have struggles and pride and unbelief. They know that I don’t have 4 hour quiet times every day and that my prayer life is erratic. They know the truth and I can’t lie to gloss over ugliness anymore. They know my life is, GASP, messy!

 

I have to love people.

This is where the community slope gets even slipperier. These trustworthy people that I’ve been sharing life with, who now know I’m a sinner, I have to love them. And not in a cursory luv ya sense, in a I love you and am committed to this relationship in a God honoring gospel living sense. Shoot. I’m good at the luv ya love. Great at it actually. I can cook a meal when someone has a baby and say I’m praying for you and send a note like you would not believe. But the bearing your burdens with you, mourn when you mourn, rejoice when you rejoice gospel kind of love, that’s a bit more challenging.

 

This love is challenging because I have to actually spend time with people to know how to love them and to know what kind of love they need at that time, really be involved in their lives. (Obviously they don’t know how busy I am with myself and my things and the burdens I’m carrying or they would not be asking for this type of love.) This means that I have to get my hands dirty in the mess of their lives like they do in mine. And not only are my hands dirty in their mess, I’m up to my eyeballs in it, sharing it with them. Carrying it when they can’t, dragging them through it when they can’t stand under it, and all the while I’m supposed to love and encourage them in the gospel AND be thankful AND honor Christ in my heart? Seriously?

 

 

So there they are, my top 3 reasons why I don’t want to live in community, and I assure you, there are plenty more where those came from. I am more selfish, prideful, and sinful than you would ever believe, unless of course you’re in that group of people who have intimate, trusting, honest, messy, inside the bubble relationships with me, those folks aren’t surprised at all.

What are your reasons for not wanting to live in community?

 

leslie washburn Meet The Guest Author

Leslie Washburn is making her blog debut in fine form sharing her thoughts about Biblical community. She and her husband Derek have been married 5 years and are active members in their local church. They both have a strong desire to become better practitioners of biblical community with the people that the Lord has placed around them. Leslie loves to read authors such as Tim Keller, C.S. Lewis, and J.K. Rowling. When she is not reading, she and her husband enjoy cheering on the Wolfpack of NC State University.

A Little Grace For Today

john calvin

 

Seeing that a Pilot steers the ship in which we sail, who will never allow us to perish even in the midst of shipwrecks, there is no reason why our minds should be overwhelmed with fear and overcome with weariness.

– John Calvin

Receive The Grace That Is In Front of You

A hand held out to receive grace

No matter where you are grace is right in front of you.

There are days when I struggle just to acknowledge the sovereignty of God over everything. I was having one of those days a couple of weeks ago. In fact it had stretched out from being one of those days to being one of those weeks. I was spiritually coasting and I was needing to get my eyes and my heart back on Jesus. One evening later that week I was spending time with one of my brothers in the Lord and he said something that has stuck with me everyday since then. He said something to the effect of “receive the grace that is in front of you.”

Normally a comment like that would slip right by, but the Holy Spirit used the comment and the giver of the comment to teach me two very important things:

1. I need to spend time with my brothers and sisters in Christ as often as possible. This goes way beyond seeing them at a church service. I mean living life together so that I get this kind of gospel encouragement daily. This will keep me from being led away by my own deceitful heart (Hebrews 3:12-14).

2. No matter where I am and what I have done, grace is always right in front of me and it is greater than my sin. I don’t know about you but there are days at work when I have blown it. I have not used my time wisely or done my work as unto the Lord. Maybe I have had a lustful thought or just have been selfish and prideful. On days like that I just want a do-over. Instead of a do-over, Jesus is standing there holding out His arms as if to say, “If you will forsake your sin I will heal you and give you joy” (I John 1:9).

There is so much hope in knowing that Jesus will always be there for me. That He is reaching out to me through my brothers and sisters in Christ. That His grace is ever before me if I would but leave my sin behind and come to Him empty handed to be filled. That’s grace. That’s worship. That’s good.