Monthly Archives: May 2014

Stop Asking for God’s Grace

How do I react when I make a mistake, when I don’t do what I want to do and I do what I don’t want to do (Rom. 7:19-20), when I sin?

Hopefully, the immediate or near immediate reaction is remorse and repentance. Often that is the case. Often another human emotional response is guilt. Guilt can be good to an extent, if it leads to repentance and change.

If I’ve repented and changed, guilt no longer has a place. But what if it won’t let go? It could mean that there’s more the Holy Spirit is trying to show me. Or I could just be holding into the guilt because of shame or habit or some other reason. That’s no good.

It can be hard to let go of guilt, especially if my sin affects or harms others. If I lash out in anger at someone, I can ask God to forgive me, and He does. But I also have to ask that person to forgive me and then deal with the consequences of my actions. If it’s been a habitual problem, it can be even more difficult to lay down the guilt.

Recently, I was discussing with a local priest this issue of guilt robbing us of grace. How does a repeat offender (aka all humans), keep coming back and asking for more grace? His answer floored me.

He basically reminded me that, as a human, I’m never worthy of the grace and mercy that I need. I have fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). But he also reminded me of the good news – I can never exhaust God’s grace and mercy. His mercies are new every morning (Lam. 3:23).

He gave, what was for me, life-changing advice: “Stop asking for God’s grace, and start cooperating with it.”

Stop asking for grace, and start cooperating with it. That one sentence changed my entire perspective. Why would I ask for something that’s already been given? The grace of God is a gift that was already given two millennia ago. It is free. It is for you and for me.

So what does it mean to cooperate with grace? I don’t know that I have a complete answer.

It seems that this cooperation begins with repentance. Then laying down guilt at the foot of the Cross and walking in a new freedom. It means laying that guilt down every time we’re tempted to pick it up again. It means finding ways to change and grow stronger in spirit to better resist the next temptation which tries to come between us and God. It means allowing the Holy Spirit to search our hearts and root out anything that exalts itself against Him.

That is what it means to me, but I’m more interested in what you think. How do you cooperate with God’s grace?


Jesus Among Us

Over the past week, I’ve heard Brandon Heath’s song “Jesus in Disguise” on the radio exactly twice. I don’t know any of the lyrics except the title line from the chorus. I’ve never paid attention to what the song was about. So why am I talking about it?

The two times that I’ve heard it were connected by prayer. Both times, I was in my car. Both times, I was praying – about the same topic. If you’ve read any of my other posts, you know that I’ve set out on a journey to live a life of unsullied holiness. So my prayers have been centered on how I can get more involved at church and less involved in things that distract me from God’s purpose.

In a place like DC, there are all kinds of groups and meet-ups. I’ve attended many meetings, events and socials trying to find a good group of like-minded individuals that are interested in a similar type of spiritual growth. Some groups are great, some are not so much. Some groups just don’t seem like a fit.

One such group was in my mind and on my heart because I suspected that even though it was a bit out of my element, I thought there might be something I could learn from it. So I added it to my prayer list. And that’s what I was praying about both times the “Jesus in Disguise” song came on the radio. I’m not one to look for signs from God or even to believe in them – until He hits me upside the head with one.

Through that one phrase on the radio, I reconsidered my attitude and hang ups about this group. I realized again that God does not fit in a box that I create. He is God. He can work through anyone. At any time. In any way He deems necessary. Even if I don’t agree or understand with every tenant of a person or group, that does not mean that God can’t use them in my life or me in theirs.

I also realized that it doesn’t just apply to church or Christian groups. I think of Matthew 25 when Jesus talked about what we do to the least of these we do to Him (verses 35-40). I can choose to let Jesus be my hands and feet. I can choose to let Him be my words. And I can look for Him in my interactions with others and in daily activities that I previously might not have thought about in a spiritual way.

I certainly feel that God is leading me to this particular group because it is a place where He can meet me, and maybe I’ll grow by learning to find Him in a place where I’m out of my comfort zone. Maybe I’ll learn something new about myself. Maybe I’ll find a deeper place in Him. I surely will not be disappointed in following Our Lord.

Where is He calling you to step out of your norm and into a new place with Him? To what strange land, near or far, is He beckoning you? Where can you find “Jesus in Disguise”?

A Christian Blogger’s Prayer

Before I set my pen to paper
Or fingers to keyboard,
Before I utter a word,
Let me draw nigh unto You.
Let me seek Your Holy Face.

Let me ask what You would say,
Through me and to me.

Let me lay down my pride
Of ownership, of authorship.
Let me empty of self,
To be filled with the Word
Of living water.

Let me be an instrument
For Your glory.
Let me be a tool
Of Your design.
My will is to please my Father above.

Before I set my pen to paper
Or word to thought,
Let me give my all to Thee.
Let me ask what You would say,
To me and through me.

ABC’s of Surrender – Goals

G is for goals. Lord, today I surrender my goals to You. I have many aspirations and dreams for my future, but none compare to the hope of glory. Help me to keep my eyes on the true prize and not be swayed by the ambitions of the world. Make Your goals for me become the desire of my heart. I cannot fathom what is in store for those who put their hope in You. May I be counted among those who join Christ in His prayer of ultimate surrender: not my will, but Thy will be done.

I can’t do it

I can’t be holy. I can spend my whole life trying to be perfect by my standards, by the world’s standards, even by God’s standards. I will fail. Apart from Christ, I have no hope of salvation, no hope of glory, no hope of true success.

So to be holy, to follow the way of Christ, I have to turn my heart from what I can do. I must remove my focus from myself and my inability. I must look instead to Christ on the cross, Christ risen, Christ in me. Then, I have the only hope that matters, the only hope that is true.

This year my mantra has been the song, “Lord, I Need You” by Matt Maher. It perfectly captures my heart at at this moment in time. And it’s popularity suggests that it echoes the hearts of many Christians.

I especially like the second verse and the bridge:

V2: Where sin runs deep Your grace is more
Where grace is found is where You are
And where You are, Lord, I am free
Holiness is Christ in me
Bridge: Teach my song to rise to You
When temptation comes my way
And when I cannot stand I’ll fall on You
Jesus, You’re my hope and stay

The theme of grace, freedom and holiness are tied into one thought. No matter where I go, what I do, how many times I fall, Jesus is my hope and stay.

I tend to be such a control freak that I don’t always realize that I’m doing something in my own strength instead of relying on Him. Until I hit the wall or fall on my face. But the more I make a habit of falling on Him, running to Him, looking to Him, the more I realize I need Him in every way, in every minute of every day.

Needing Christ doesn’t make us weak, for He is our strength. His grace is always bigger than our sin. His power is always greater than our need. His love is always enough.

I can’t be holy, but I can surrender to Him. It’s a daily choice, sometimes hourly or even by the minute – but I can choose to cooperate with His unending grace. I can choose to let Christ be Holiness in me.

If you don’t know it, check out the song:


ABC’s of Surrender

F is for failures. Lord, today I surrender my failures to You. Sometimes when I fall, I'm tempted to hold onto my guilt and punish myself for not measuring up. But I know that You have purchased my redemption with your own precious blood. Therefore, I will not let the enemy tempt me to despair even in my weakness. For it is in my weakness that You show yourself strong. So I surrender those failures and falls to You. By Your Holy Spirit help me to learn from my mistakes and not to repeat them. When I fall, help me to hear Your call to rise again and follow You.

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