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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

There but for the grace of God...

There is an old saying that we utter at times when we see folks struggling.

"There but for the grace of God, go I"


This phrase is credited to John Bradford, a preacher and martyr who lived 1510-1555. The story is that Bradford would see someone being led to the scaffold for hanging and say, "There but for the grace of God, goes John Bradford." In 1555, John Bradford was burned at the stake and spoke to a fellow victim "we shall have a merry supper with the Lord this night." 

This is all legend, and the earliest the saying appears in print is 1822, found in A Treatise on Prayer, by Edward Bickersteth as a telling of the Bradford story. 

I have thought of this phrase and spoken it a few hundred times in my life. My worry is that I use the phrase much like we in the southern US say, "bless their heart." The phrase sounds nice and kind, but really carries the subtext of "they are just not intelligent enough to pour water out a bucket, with the directions on the bottom."

My challenge is to not just lament the plight, or lot in life of a fellow traveler; instead, to show grace to whoever i think or say that of. 

As a follower of Christ, I need to put boots to my words, flesh to my thoughts, and actions to my intentions. To simply see someone in need of grace and notice is like looking in the mirror and noticing that i am overweight. If no action follow, I stay fat. If i see that someone needs grace and do nothing...then he or she still needs grace. 

I pray that I realize that God has determined to use me as an extension of His grace and love to others. I pray that the church, the bride of Christ, realizes that we are here to advance the circle of grace, love and invitation to each person that we meet. 

I am thankful for the people who saw me in need of grace, and stepped in and offered. 



jb

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The guy on the fence.


If you have ever been to a High School football game, then you have seen them. The guys who are in their late 20's to 40's standing by the fence near one end zone or another. These guys gather around and gauge how this years team stacks up to the year that they played. This video I think describes what it is that these men are seeking.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Tim Tebow, the bandwagon, and 3:16

Tim Tebow threw for 316 yards this past Sunday in a football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He also averaged 31.6 yards per completed pass (an NFL record). 

The stats coupled with Mr Tebow's open profession of faith in Jesus Christ has prompted many different writers to make the connection to John 3:16. I can understand the allure of such a connection. 

John 3:16 is one of the most well known verses of the Bible in America. It is probably quoted as often as "judge not lest ye be judged." 
However, I would like to point out that the majority of the books in the Bible have chapter and verse 3:16. 

Start with Genesis, the first book in the Bible: 
To the woman he said,
"I will make your pains in childbearing very severe;
with painful labor you will give birth to children.
Your desire will be for your husband,
and he will rule over you." (Genesis 3:16 NIV)

Maybe that is the message God would want us to take away from the alignment of stat to scripture connection? 

Or it could be this passage: 

The priest shall burn them on the altar as a food offering, a pleasing aroma. All the fat is the Lord's. (Leviticus 3:16 NIV). This verse is a part of a description of offerings that were a staple of the Israelite worship in the Old Testament. Maybe God is using Tebow to spur us to a better physical fitness level so we can all glorify God in athletic ways? Ok, maybe not. 

But what about: 

Now Ehud had made a double-edged sword about a cubit long, which he strapped to his right thigh under his clothing. (Judges 3:16 NIV)

Or...

And I saw something else under the sun:
In the place of judgment—wickedness was there,
in the place of justice—wickedness was there. (Ecclesiastes 3:16 NIV). 

Maybe?

The Lord says,
"The women of Zion are haughty,
walking along with outstretched necks,
flirting with their eyes,
strutting along with swaying hips,
with ornaments jingling on their ankles. (Isaiah 3:16 NIV)

Could be that the message intended was for us to read from a book with the same first name as Tebow...


Beyond all question, the mystery from which true godliness springs is great:
He appeared in the flesh,
was vindicated by the Spirit,
was seen by angels,
was preached among the nations,
was believed on in the world,
was taken up in glory. (1 Timothy 3:16 NIV)

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, (2 Timothy 3:16 NIV)

Maybe the point is to handle ourselves day in and day out so that when others ridicule us we have comfort...

keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. (1 Peter 3:16 NIV)

You know it could be to draw our hearts to the other John 3:16:

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. (1 John 3:16 NIV)

It could even be to let us know about the judgment of those who are half-hearted found in the last book of the Bible Revelation 3:16

So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.

I am not insightful enough to tell you exactly what the message should or should not be. I know that God would not be offended were you to explore the other verses numbered 3:16. I know that God is probably pleased with Tim Tebow not because he is a winner at football, but because he loves God and loves others. 

Hope you find this helpful,

simply HIS,
jb

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Not a thumping gizzard.

First I would like for you to go and read this post by a woman I know as Jamie the Very Worst Missionary.

http://www.theveryworstmissionary.com/2011/11/guard-your-heart-bro.html

Now then. Here is my response to her post.

Distant. Angry. Frustrated. Driven. Workaholic. Crude. Bastard. Jerk. Jock. Checked out. 
Layers upon layers of names have been given to men over the course of their lives. Crybaby. Queer. Punk. Sissy. Useless. Quitter. Failure. 

Over and over again, the lies wash over our identity hammering at who we really are. Denying what is the truest about us. That we were created to bear an image, to reign over all created things, to stand up to the adversary that seeks to ensnare and destroy the truth about you and me. 

And it has damn near worked. 

There is a voice that speaks other words, gives other descriptions...

Son. Warrior. Lover. King. Mighty one. Kinsman, Redeemer. Brother. Husband. Father. Friend. 

A voice that cries out from the dirt and the rocks. A voice that whispers through the breeze of a summer evening. A voice that sings with the birds and the thunder. A voice that stirs a place deep within my heart. A voice that knows the truth laying beneath the rubble. 

Strong. Honorable. Worthy. Enduring. Protector. Defender. Rescuer. 

The reason our hearts need guarding is that they are the most valuable thing we have been given. The heart is the place of true reason and faith. The heart bears eternity and is the stronghold of our true name. The name that was spoken to us before the sands of time began. The name that we were crafted to carry with honor and courage. 

Jamie, thank you for the reminder Dear One. 




I would like for you to join this thread and comment. To hear your story as well, either on this blog or on Jamie's.
God Bless you and speak to you your true name.


simply HIS,
jb

Friday, November 18, 2011

What's that sound?

My friend Ken Holsberry taught on Sodom this past Wednesday night. Here were some thoughts from his lesson. 


Sin has a sound. Genesis 18:16-33; Isaiah 59:4. Is there anyone to intercede?
  
God hears the shouts of the abused, mistreated and tortured. 

He hears the moans of poverty, and the cries of the hungry. 

What does my sin sound like to God?

Why can I not hear it? Do I ignore it?

Abraham stepped in between God and Sodom to bargain for their life. (Gen 18:22-32)

Paul would go to hell to save his countrymen. Moses bargained for the lives of the Israelites. 

They all loved someone who was going to be destroyed. Do we love any who are in danger? Do we love those caught in their sin?

God hears the deafening sound of sin. 

During the triumphal parade like entry into Jerusalem, Jesus stopped and wept over the city for the destruction to come. The Christ begged they be forgiven from the cross and he desires that all would come and repent and be redeemed
From their lives of brokenness. 

 God is a justifier.


 God is a healer.


 God is a restorer. 



God will not turn a deaf ear, will you?


simply HIS,
jb

Friday, November 11, 2011

stuck in the pages

I was thinking today about how I read the Bible. I read the stories, the lists, the events, and I think on them and then teach from them. But I have no idea of the space and time that these events happened.

I know the historical situation surrounding most of the information. I know the teaching of some of the church fathers. What i don't get are the smells, the sounds, the dust, and sweat, the tension of the participants, the emotion showing on their face, the hearts racing in their chests, the silence...

I read stories of a man building an Ark, telling his neighbors about a rain and flood to prepare for, loading up his wife and sons and daughters-in-law. All in the space of 3 chapters, 68 verses, 2 1/4 pages. Astounding!! This 100+ years of life and activity and people and animals and wood, and splinters and arguments between husbands and wives......whew. Exhausting.

I lose this wander, and awe and excitement when I just readrightthroughtryingtofinishachapter. Yet the richness and fullness is there if I can just remember to put time in. Not more time reading, but remember that these people were living through all these cool and weird things in the same time constraints and effects I am.

LORD, please help me remember today the between the lines of the story you are telling.

simply HIS,
jb

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Why?

My friend Benny Nowell (http://www.sevensonline.org) told me once about a vision he had outside of a place called Freedom tunnel (ironically spelled Freedoom). He witnessed this girl fixing up her heroin to shoot. The vision was that Jesus was standing next to her, His hand on her shoulder eyes fixed on Benny and saying, "it's about time you got here." 

The message was that Jesus is waiting for us, for His disciples to arrive in the dark places so we can reflect His light.  Many times we get all caught up in taking Jesus to the lost; yet, the fact is HE is waiting for us there. HE is wanting to take me to the lost. 

I hear the question frequently, "why would a good God allow suffering; bad things to happen to good people; children to starve...?" 

The question I ask in return is, "Why are you allowing it to happen, what are you doing to help?"

We can no longer just sit by and "Occupy Space and Time" we have a responsibility. When Jesus was asked what were the greatest commands, He answered 
  1. Love God with all you have.
  2. Love others as yourself.
This is a expository statement on the Ten Commandments. The Law and Prophets (The Old Testament) boil down to these two things Love God, Love everybody else. Why?
  1. Because God created you, and made the sacrifice that frees us from our crap that we choose instead of Him.
  2. Because God created others and they carry His image too.
Ephesians 2 tells us that God saved us not just to be little cute figurines in some cosmic display case, but that we were saved for good works. What are good works? Love others as yourself. Do you feed yourself? Get yourself out of dangerous situations? Clothe yourself? Buy yourself nice things? Then love someone else the same way. I am not saying you alone have to rush out and save everybody, but you can rush out and help someone. 

Lets agree to start small and simple, today make it your goal to only use words that build up and encourage those around you. No demeaning jokes, or sarcastic belittling of people. No jokes about Lindsey Lohan, Kim Kardashian, Joe Paterno, THAT person in the office, THAT kid at school, etc...

Look around, take notice, and then act on what you see. Lift some one up today in the name of Jesus Christ, lift someone up. 

simply HIS,
jb