boyradd

Forgiven…Loved…..Transformed!

Archive for the tag “God’s grace”

A New Place

Psalm 127:1 – Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; Unless the LORD guards the city, The watchman keeps awake in vain.

My beautiful wife and I are moving into a new house tomorrow. This has been a crazy year! We got engaged, married, built a house, went on mission to Peru, she started a ministry at church, I have had my first full year under my belt with the company I started, and life keeps rolling on. To say that this year has been stressful is an understatement.

The money has been coming in just a little above where we need it to be every month, so we are truly blessed in that way.

But, from time to time, I don’t feel very blessed.

In the midst of all of the stress (all of it was self-inflicted stress, by the way), I lose sight of what is really important.

God.

The Bible says that…

Romans 8:28 – And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Unfortunately, many times, our definition of good and God’s definition are askew. In our human terms, we think that “good” is defined as easy, stress-free, and happy. God’s definition is very different. He sees “good” in terms of spiritual growth. With all growth comes hard, stressful, filled-with-pain moments which, in the end, leads to maturity in faith.

So we are moving into the new place tomorrow. And with that we will see a whole bunch of bills hitting us. As a matter of fact, I am not exactly sure where all the money will be coming for these bills. But I know one thing: the God of the universe knows about it and will, as in times past, supply all our needs.

But I write this to please keep my family in prayer for the following:

  • That we may never lose sight of God’s blessings upon us or take for granted all that He has provided for us.
  • That we may maintain our joy throughout the craziness of this life. Satan cannot take my soul. That is with God in heaven. But he can steal my joy and my ability to share my story. May that never be the case. Please pray that my whole family will constantly be joyful in God’s gifts of love, mercy, and grace and that we will never cower from sharing our testimonies.
  • That we strengthen in bond to each other as we continue in this life.
  • Pray that our ministries are fruitful and continue to multiply. That they will do the work that God has given us to do. That we will follow His vision of church and of reaching the lost and equipping the saints.

So I thank you for any prayers you will do for us. And the next time I write, I will be doing so from the new place.

The View from the Top

Psalm 89:12 – The north and the south, You have created them; Tabor and Hermon shout for joy at Your name.

I’ve been posting my blog a few days late for the past few weeks. This week I have good reason. I was climbing a mountain.

No, really.

Ok, well, it was a hike to the top with a rock scramble in the middle which required some minor climbing skills. So I am going to tell you that I went rock climbing because we guys love to exaggerate, especially if something seems dangerous or awesome.

But when we got to the top of the mountain, it was absolutely breathtaking.

The view from the top

The view from the top

I have done this hike many times before and each time I can’t help but marvel at how beautiful it is from the top of the mountain.

I tend to think that long ago, when someone started one of those mega-corporations or mega-churches out there that they thought it would all be “top of the mountain” views when they got to the top of their industry mountain. Unfortunately, that is rarely the case.

When you get to the top of a natural mountain, there are never any losers in it. Everyone wins. You come away from a mountaintop experience truly understanding that grandeur of God’s creativity and power. When you climb to the top of the corporate mountain, there are people always left losing. Whether it were the other people who were in line for the same promotion you got or the other companies that you had to beat out in order to be at the top of the mountain, there are people hurt along the way.

Now I want you to think about something else.

How many times in this life have you heard someone say, “I wish I was God.”

There are entire religions based around believing that you are a god or you are god.

As I was at the top of the mountain, looking over God’s creation, I started to imagine what God sees when He is in His throne room looking over us.

Psalm 90:2 – Before the mountains were born Or You gave birth to the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.

Do you think it is all beautiful, like this?

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Or do you think it is more like this?

Bad 2 Bad 3 Bad 4 Riot 1

Honestly, I would never want to be God. I know how much my own struggles affect me. I can only imagine how much the struggles of the world would affect me. But I believe that God has a desire to see something when He looks at us.

He already sees all the destruction that we humans have done to each other. And since He gives us free will, He isn’t going stop us from making stupid errors in judgment. But I believe He wants to see us coming together to help each other. There comes a point that we simply come to that requires us just to love one another. We can choose to ignore it, as much of the world does. But God’s wants us at that point.

1 Peter 4:8 – Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.

I believe THIS is what He wants to see when He looks upon humanity.

want to see 1 Want to see 2 Want to see 3Matt praying

Addicted to Religion, Allergic to Grace

I was reading one of my favorite websites today and saw a post by a man who’s opening statement said, “We are addicted to religion and allergic to grace.”

That got me thinking.  Is that true?

Romans 6:14 – For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but are under grace.

One of my pastors this past week preached on self-control.  When I went in to the service, I have to admit that I though he was going to preach on keeping sexual sin away from your life.  Admit it.  When we as Christians think about self-control, sexuality is usually in the top 3 of things we think about.  We as Christians are a very sexual group of people.  And that is good.  But it needs to be used as God proposed it to be.  Anyway, that is not the topic of this post.  We’ll tackle that again later in the year.

But when pBritt got up to speak, he went verse by verse in Romans 6:1-14, which I would love to do because we as Christians are not psyched when we hear about true, redeeming grace.  We get more excited when we hear about how the church is changing the music, becoming more attractional, or holding a BBQ.  It is not that often that we get excited about grace.

Why?

Because grace…..TRUE GRACE….requires us to change.

Romans 6:1-4 – What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?  By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

That first sentence in Romans 6 says it all.  Grace changes you!  There is a mixed up view of grace out there that says we are saved and therefore we can do whatever we want because we are covered by God’s grace. 

That thinking is wrong.

Yes, we are saved.

Yes, we are going to heaven.

But if you love someone, why would you intentionally hurt that person every day by doing that which makes them unhappy?  When you become a Christian, you are engaging in a love relationship with God.  You strive for a sinless life (although we know we will fail from time to time) because you love God and want what is best for Him.

The baptism that we do for believers in the church is representative of Christ going into the grave and emerging again from that grave.  When we go through baptism, essentially we are going into that grave with Christ and emerging a new creation.

But because of our association now with Christ, we can no longer live in a sinful lifestyle.

This brings up some of those hot button questions.  Let’s look at homosexuality for a moment.  There is a whole group of people out there who believe that if you are homosexual that you will never get into heaven.  This is NOT the case.

How many Christians were saved from the grip of alcohol addiction, drug addiction, sexual addiction and have been set free from that?  Countless.  I feel it is the same with homosexuality.  It is simply another lifestyle that people CHOOSE to live in.  Even the Christians who are victorious over addictions get tempted from time to time with those addictions.  But they do not give in to those addictions.  With homosexuality, the person can struggle with the temptation to engage in homosexual activity but if he or she gives that to Christ the minute the urge comes, God will take that away. 

I am NOT talking about “normalizing” a person as many people feel we should do to those in the grips of homosexuality.  I am talking about a one on one personal relationship between the person who is struggling with the desire and God.  God is the only one who can take misguided desire away.  We as humans should never strive to “normalize” anyone!  We should love them as Christ loves them, ensuring that they understand that what they are doing is sinful.

THAT is what grace does! 

But to get that grace and then do nothing with it is more of a sin than the sin the grace is covering.  If you continue to live in homosexual encounters, drug addiction, alcohol addiction, or visiting porn sites, then you are spitting in the face of God for the grace that He provided you.

Romans 6:5-7 – For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.

We are no longer slaves to our sin.  That does not mean the devil won’t tempt us.  Remember how much Jesus was tempted by Satan?  We can expect that our temptations will become more intense as Satan tries to damage our testimony or silence us.  The devil knows that he can’t take away our salvation once we have it, but what he tries to do is remove our power.  If he can keep us separate from the power of the Holy Spirit, then less people will come to know that Christ is such a beautiful and loving God. 

So back to our example of homosexuality, if you are gay and become a Christian, you can no longer live in that lifestyle.  You will continue to be tempted by Satan for the rest of your life with urges that will try to drive you away from Christ, but you will have power to defeat those urges as long as you believe in the saving grace of God.

One of the biggest tragedies of our day and age are churches that cater to the gay crowd or theologians who believe it is time for us to have separate marriage vows, a civil one and a Christian one (Sorry, D.A. Carson, John Boswell, and Bishop David Jenkins, and Bishop John Spong, I can’t agree with you).  That’s right, I am against gay marriage and I am against gay-focused churches.  But that is because the GOSPEL IS FOR EVERYONE!  If we leave one group out of the gospel, then we have turned into an elitist group, a clique.  That is NOT what Christianity is.

Christianity IS inclusive.  It includes everyone who can be saved by the same grace that Jesus provides.  Whether you are an addict, a porn star, gay, or just someone who doesn’t know God, we all need His saving grace.  It is for everyone.  And I believe as long as we accept that grace and leave the lifestyle that is counter to God’s desire, then we are living a life that is dedicated to Him. 

Romans 6:8-10 –  Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

This passage says that we now live with Christ.  We live will live with Him in heaven, yes, but this means that we will also live with Him in this life.  Our actions should begin to look more like Jesus’ actions.  Our words should begin to sound more like Jesus’ words.  We could even consider putting our names in verse 10 because if He lives with us, then the life WE live, WE live to God.

Romans 6:11-14 – In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.

So every part of our body is to be offered as an instrument for His glory.  Sin is no longer our master.  That does not mean we won’t be tempted.  We will.  A lot.  But God’s grace gives us the ability and the Holy Spirit gives us the power to turn away from the sin that Satan wants us to commit. 

Are you tempted to take a drink, drunkard?  Call upon the power of the Holy Spirit!

Are you tempted to take some Vicodin, drug abuser?  Call upon the power of the Holy Spirit!

Are you tempted to click onto the porn site?  Call upon the power of the Holy Spirit!

Are you tempted to get into a homosexual relationship?  Call upon the Holy Spirit!

God’s grace is for everyone!  It is available.  It is free! 

And it will change your life!

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