In 1517 Martin Luther posted his 95 thesis declaring salvation by grace through faith. Today the church desperately needs a second reformation of sanctification by grace. Christians are chained to a treadmill of trying to please God by their behavior, of trying harder and sinning less. If they can just discipline themselves enough and be determined enough, they are deceived into thinking they can become righteous and holy and be close to God and He will be pleased. Grace tells us that our relationship and intimacy with our Father in heaven is no longer dependent upon our behavior...or lack there of. Grace tells us we no longer have to strive to become righteous, because He has given us a new nature that is righteous. Grace tells us that it is the only thing powerful enough to deal with our sin. Grace tells us that God is already head-over-heels in love with us and nothing we do can change that. Welcome to "Formed by Grace."

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Prodigal's Suspicion (85 seconds)

Last week the most influential author in my life died, Brennan Manning.  I only met and talked with him once, but he has deeply mentored me through his writings. The golden thread that wove through all his messages and writings is this, "God loves you just as you are, not as you should be."  I like to change it to, "My Father loves me just as I am, not as I should be."

When I think of this unbelievable good news, my mind always goes back to Luke 15 and the parable of the prodigal son.  It illustrates it beautifully. With his rebellion and rejection of his father having ruined his life and now in his mind defining him, the prodigal has no hope of his father ever loving him again.  But he knows he needs help and so as a last resort, plans to return home and say to his father, "I am no longer worthy to be called your son.  Treat me as one of your servants."  Dan Cruver says that the prodigal is returning home thinking of his father as his master and not as his father.  He plans to return home as a wage-earner hoping to earn his way back into his father's love.

Sinclair Ferguson writes that we have the same suspicion as the prodigal--that it is impossible for the Father to love us.  And so we return to him as our master and not our Father.  But the good news  the prodigal experienced is the same good news we can experience, "Our Father loves us just as we are, not as we should be."

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Spiritual Disciplines: Going Someplace (22 seconds)

Henri Nouwen writes, "Here we see what discipline in the spiritual life means.  It is a gradual process of coming home to where we belong and listening there to the voice which desires our attention."

So here is my thought.  What if the spiritual disciplines are not practices or things we do, rather they are the practice of going someplace to be with someone...someone who is crazy about us and loves us more than we will ever know and who longs for our company.