vineyard

When Life is Tough, Grace is Enough

I have been writing a lot about where our hope truly lies and that we need to be a positive light in a negative world. Last week Joni and I were meeting with our wonderful church small group from Waterbrook Bible Fellowship. The study was from John and we each read a verse from the passage. Here is my verse and I am not making this up. “Stop grumbling among yourselves,” Jesus answered. (John 6:43) I laughed and told the group this might become my new life verse for this very negative cultural season. The verse follows a section where Jesus talks about how He is the bread of life and has come from Heaven. This was just too much for the locals who knew Him as the kid raised by Mary and Joseph down at the carpenter shop. But the message is timeless. I need to stop grumbling and start living out of who God says I am as
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Remembering Rich Mullins

Rich Mullins was (and still is) one of my favorite Christian songwriters. It seems impossible that it was 20 years ago today that he was killed in a car accident. His music impacted me greatly and this song was one of my favorites. “We Are Not As Strong As We Think We Are” opens with this stanza. Well, it took the hand of God Almighty To part the waters of the sea But it only took one little lie To separate you and me Oh, we are not as strong as we think we are. If only we could acknowledge that we are not as strong as we think we are and then live accordingly I believe we would see an amazing difference. We need God and community to be spiritually and emotionally healthy. Yet pride tells me that I am able to handle the situation. Fear tells me that telling the truth in love will only make it worse.
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Satan Loves Prevent Defense

If you read more than a snippet of my writings you know that I am a grace guy. But there is a question that confounds me. “If grace based theology as the way to live out the Christian life is true then why is it not more popular in the church?” That is a great question. I have been swept away by grace. Everything in my life has been changed by taking away my performance based faith and believing in Christ’s performance for me. During a recent football telecast I thought about a parallel between one of my least favorite football strategies and this grace conundrum. Perhaps it was an insight from the Holy Spirit. Perhaps it was simply because my brain is not wired to factory specs. But this idea popped in my mind. A lot of football teams play a defense that is called the prevent defense. That style of defense is designed to allow the opponent short yardage gains as
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dealing with doubt

Dealing with Doubt Honestly

I am amazed by people who are so brazenly sure they are right about what they believe. I have friends who are completely sure there is no God and there is no logical need for such beliefs. They believe science is the ultimate answer for everything and they view my faith as a naive weakness. I have always felt that absolute certainty is the trump card of a fool. So I will be honest. I have wrestled with doubt in my faith journey. I am not convinced that I know everything. Here is a bit of what I wrote about that journey in Waking Up Slowly. The story line of the movie Risen was intriguing to me. Historically, there was a Nazarene who was crucified, and two groups had a tremendous interest in making sure that his death was the end of the story. The Romans wanted no movement to grow so large that it would cause political unrest. The
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You are here

Where am I? Who am I? Identity Alert!!!!

I had some social media fun with the picture above helpfully proclaiming “YOU ARE HERE”. As if I could be anywhere else while I was, well, there. But as you probably already suspect that picture produced some musing that begat today’s blog. For years I wandered spiritually wondering where I was on my journey. Was I going to Heaven? Was I a good, bad, or indifferent Christian? Was I loved? Was I significant? The question of where I was as a follower of Christ and who I was as a person consumed and confused me. The always present Enemy answered the questions above on a regular basis. Probably not going to Heaven. Definitely a bad Christian. Not really loved or bad things wouldn’t happen to you. Totally insignificant. The following is a little excerpt on this topic from my latest book Waking Up Slowly. For too many years I believed the accusations, without considering the question that Philip Yancey asks.
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What If?

Regular consumers of my humble ramblings (Bless your hearts!) know that I often find spiritual application from song lyrics both secular and sacred. Blame it on faulty brain wiring at the factory. This week I heard a snippet from Carly Simon’s haunting ballad “That’s The Way I’ve Always Heard It Should Be” that triggered today’s musing. The song talks about the ideal of marriage. Her partner wants to marry and is convinced their union will be different. The lyrical response hit my heart. You say we can keep our love alive Babe – all I know is what I see – She had seen too many marriages start with fairy tale dreams and end in sorrow. That sad topic is another blog. What hit me on this day was how that principle of believing only what you see is true for us as followers of Jesus. We tell people we have good news. We tell people we have an eternal
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Men having discussion

A Gentle Assignment for my White Brothers and Sisters in Christ. Listen!

My heart has been deeply saddened by the racial tension that has surfaced recently with frightening intensity. Like many white Americans I rationalize that I am not a part of the problem. I have always condemned those organizations that teach hate toward my brothers and sisters of color so I felt like I was a spectator in this battle. Three friends have been helping me to see another side. My eyes began to be opened by my friend Kevin Butcher. Kevin is a white pastor to a predominately black congregation at Hope Community Church in Detroit. He told me that Black Christians want their White brothers and sisters to listen to their hearts and not offer excuses or rationales. They simply want to be heard. So I decided to do just that by seeking to hear the hearts of two Black brothers in Christ. I know Duke Barnett well. He is an amazingly talented educator, administrator and leader. He is
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