Andyouinvitedmein’s Weblog

Archive for May 2008

…but then grace is difficult. As soon as I write something about grace, then someone close to me pierces my heart. The pain is great and instead of unconditional love, I’d rather have a ten minutes and a two-by-four.

Does it really matter what Ed McMahon thinks about you? Heavens no! However, it’s so difficult when someone you dearly love has been mean, disloyal, or has stabbed you in the back. But the essence (fragrance) of salvation is that we’re to love in spite of the pain and hurt. We’re to forgive and trust God to change the circumstances or even our heart.

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What do you think about the earthquake in China? What about Dafur? What about the starving children in Myanmar? What about the Christians in Laos: the pastor who was killed and now his wife continues his church and preaches grace? What about a certain child I know who is dying and his parents don’t have the money for gas to get to the hospital? These are issues that also need our attention.

As a Christian I think we need to be about the Lord’s business, and that means letting those we love know how much we love them…and we need to love them in more than just words. I’ve often heard the scripture from James quoted: “faith without works is dead.” People used it to emphasize the need to cook meals, witness or whatever to show they were/are working for the Lord. Let me put a new twist on it…

If the foundation for our faith is what Jesus did when he died for our sins. Then our faith is based on unconditional love and grace. “The works” would be showing grace and forgiveness to others. Now is a time to show what Jesus is all about. Here’s what the world is hungry for…

The Amish who embraced the shooter’s family. The church in Colorado who embraced the shooter’s family. The woman in Rwanda who has befriended the man who killed her husband and children. This is what the world is crying out for…the very thing that by passes the mind goes straight to the heart and makes people want to be better to their fellow man.

It is my opinion that my faith is only undermined when I set conditions on love. My children are strong in their faith when I’m acting like the Amish with the shooter’s family. The world wants what I have when my actions are like the Amish with the shooter’s family…

In short, there will begin to be battles now that the California Supreme Court has stepped up to the plate. We conservative Christians can fuss and fight, and maybe win politically, but what will we lose?

NOW is the time for all of us who carry the name of Jesus to step up to the plate. Our acts of grace will go to the heart…think about it…practice it everyday…watch things change.

May 12, 2008
And You Invited Me In
“In the conservative church, our problem is not having enough grace. Grace is the name of our ship and why we are saved. Extending grace when it seems impossible what the book is about.”

By Jeremy Reynalds
Correspondent for ASSIST News Service

 

 ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (ANS) It’s a tragedy that Cheryl Moss Tyler’s book “And You Invited Me In” would be considered controversial in most conservative evangelical circles.

That’s because it’s a very readable and eminently Biblical exhortation for self-described Bible believing Christians to show the love of Jesus Christ to homosexuals. Once I began reading “And You Invited Me In,” I couldn’t put it down. If you choose to purchase the book, and I strongly suggest you consider doing so, I believe that you’ll experience the same reaction I did.

Click here to link to and read the full review of And You Invited Me In by Jeremy Reynalds: http://www.assistnews.net/Stories/2008/s08050065.htm

 (Photo by Sheliah Miller of Tulsa World/AP)

The photo is from yesterday’s twister in Oklahoma. We have relatives there who deal with this all the time. A storm like this carries incredible power to rearrange a landscape and change lives. As powerful as this twister was, the power of unconditional love and forgiveness is even greater.

Several times a year my mother will report that her fellow churchmen question: Why don’t we have ‘the power’? The Power they’re looking for is the power to lay on hands and a person is healed, delivered, or whatever is needed by the seeker. It would also be The Power to raise people from the dead. Frankly, when I die just let me go on and rest in Jesus arms—don’t be calling me back. That’s just me, and I need to get back to what I intend to say in this blog.

In my opinion The Power is only two things: unconditional love and forgiveness. From there you’ll be able to witness the nine visible attributes of Fruit of the Spirit from Galatians 5:22-23: love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and self-control. There’s no law against these, and people will be able to identify you as a follower of Christ because of these attributes.

Warning! Unconditional love is very difficult, but it’s something that Satan cannot copy. He can’t copy forgiveness either. And that’s The Power…this power might not be able to raise a dead person, but it’s the power that will transform a broken heart, heal a dispute, or resurrect a family.

I live in The South, and as the weather changes we experience tornadoes all spring and fall. I’ve seen hundreds of after-the-storm interviews on television. The only thing that matters to any of those being interviewed is that their family and friends made it out okay. After the storm it isn’t the gold Cadillac or the Prada shoes that matter.

Once we’re living with Jesus and can look back on this life we’ll see how important relationship is and wonder why we didn’t move quicker to reconcile. In the hereafter it won’t matter what “Sister Susie” thinks. It will only be about how much we did in forgiving and giving grace to the extent that it hurts.

So this Sunday in church think about the richness of relationship. Think about the person in your life who isn’t there anymore because of an “ought”—Bible term to mean “we got mad and haven’t made up yet.” As you reach out to them, forgive and restore, then The Power will come like a tidal wave.

 

About ten days ago my oldest daughter text-messaged me with a list of physical characteristics she wants in a guy. She asked me to save them, but I forgot and by the time I needed to retrieve them they were gone. Fast forward to last night when we were talking about guys, and if we had arranged marriages in our country who would I select for her. I gave her a list of spiritual attributes I thought she might look for in a guy.

This reminded me of what the Lord looks for in each of us. It isn’t about acts and actions. For example, a person can bake pies for everyone in the country, but if their heart is full of evil then they don’t reflect the love of Jesus. They are only a good pie maker. Let’s get past the pie to the scripture: I Samuel 16:7—But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

The problem with the religious people of Jesus time was they looked at outward appearances. Jesus was always about what is in a person’s heart. Therefore, the secret things we hide aren’t really a secret from God. And I’m amazed at how many church plum lines are all about appearances. Possibly it’s because you can’t see the heart, and it makes it real difficult to get a fix on motives and desires of a person. As well, when we only consider what’s in the heart, then we have to “leave it up to God.” We serve a big God who managed to create the entire universe and arrange redemption without our help.

I’ve heard there was a man named Starr Daily who was in prison—in solitary confinement—and was considered to be a sociopath; a man who would never be rehabilitated. From what I’m told Jesus appeared to this man in prison, and within a short time he was released and went on to write books and speak at Christian camps. While I have only heard this, and in part it might be an urban legend, I can speak for my brother-in-law’s experience.

My brother-in-law lived a fast life. A cocaine addict who was the body guard for a dealer in a large US city. After they were all busted and he ended up in jail, Jesus appeared to him on night, and he was immediately delivered from drugs. He’s stayed on a fixed path toward Christ these 25 years. The best testimony comes from his daughter who visited with him for two weeks every summer when she was a child. The year she came to see him after he became a Christian, there was such a change in his life that she committed her life to Christ—and her mother’s home was not Christian.

Jumping back to the top and where I started this blog as it relates to my book, And You Invited Me In—in our conservative Christian effort to convert the world and beat Jesus into people, we overlook the fact that he doesn’t need us. However, he uses us…and that would be as loving examples of forgiveness and unconditional love. Or the things that are inside the heart.

Your “fellow brother of major good works” might be a person with a heart of evil intent. Therefore, we can’t assume that certain groups are lost or don’t know Jesus just because their life is different from ours. As Protestants we can’t assume Catholics are going to hell. As straight people we can’t assume that gay people are going to hell.

First we can’t assume—God never mentions anything about assumptions on the “to do” list. Second we have to work on ourselves and that will take a great deal of time. Next, we have to rewire our thinking to understand that the power comes from forgiveness and unconditional love….and this is where I will stop for tonight, more tomorrow….