Comments : 8 Comments »
Categories : book review, grace
Yesterday I met with a local pastor who has been a good friend and has planted a growing “Grace-filled” church in the area. He gave me the book Grace Walk and asked me to read it. I couldn’t put it down and finished it last night. I realize this book has been around for 12 years but I had never read it nor heard about it until recently. The ironic thing is one of my wife’s best friends and homeschooling mom had just given the book to her for us to read.
The author, Steve McVey, was a rising star in the church world. He was a successful pastor who had led his denomination in Baptisms when he was called to pastor a turnaround church in the Atlanta area. He felt he was up for the challenge and tried everything he had been successful in Alabama. Finally he was giving a state of the church address the next day and lay face down crying on his floor. The church was not doing well and he realized that he had been in a “performance” mode and not a “Grace” mode. He repented that night and told his church that the next day. He then began a journey of a “GRACE WALK.”
I could relate to much of what he was saying. I recently preached a message on Mary and Martha and how Jesus told Martha that Mary had chosen what was better when she sat at the feet of Jesus instead of helping Martha work. Life is about living with Jesus not doing things for Him. Martha was actually distracted from Jesus Himself! (Luke 10:38-42)
Here are some choice quotes:
- Polishing your performance is not the answer. Some of the most miserable people are drowning in a sea of religious activity (p.22)
- It was a thrilling day when I came to understand that Christianity is not rules and routine, but a relationship. (p.24)
- Walking in the flesh is simply relying on your own ability instead of on God’s resources. (p30)
- Being preoccupied with serving Christ more than with Jesus Himself is a subtle threat to every Christian. (p. 38)
- I began to really understand my identity as a Christian–that Christ is not simply in my life, but that He is my life. (p. 68)
- Many modern church members are absolutely exhausted from their efforts to serve God. (p. 73)
- Any approach to Christian living that focuses on keeping rules as a means of experiencing victory or growing spiritually is legalism. (p.80)
- If you really want to live a godly lifestyle, the focus of your life must be Him. Not church, not religious activity, no a moral lifestyle, not obeying His commands. Just Him! (p.89)
- Any person whose Christian life is centered on service is doomed to a life of frustration. (p. 95)
- Grace choses people as a priority… Law insists on service. Grace inspires it. (p.151)
- Grace causes one to see people instead of prospects. (p.151)
I truly enjoyed this book and I give it 4.75 hockey sticks out of 5.
Comments : 50 Comments »
Categories : amazing, faith, forgiveness, grace, mercy
Locked away three decades now, David Berkowitz recalls life as the notorious “Son of Sam,” the man who held New Yorkers hostage and in fear. Berkowitz, now 53, was arrested in August of 1977 outside of his Yonkers apartment, where he was said to quickly admit to being the feared gunman that had shot 13 people throughout the city, killing six of them. Today, a self-professed born-again Christian.
“I dedicated myself to Satan and became a soldier and had the satanic bible and went through stupid rituals. It was just a … that kind of sealed my fate. After that it was all down hill.”
“I’m living a whole new life today, even behind prison walls,” Berkowitz said. “Because God is not limited by anything. He’s not limited by prison walls.”
“I’m a man that doesn’t even deserve to be alive, but its God who delights to show mercy,” Berkowitz said. “He’s the one who I believe has chosen me for this time we’re living in to let people know that he does forgive sin.”
When asked if he feels in God’s way he can forgive a killer, Berkowitz said, “oh sure, absolutely. “
Forgiveness also came from a very unexpected person — Neysa Moskowitz, the mother of Berkowitz’s last victim, Stacey. She wrote to Berkowitz and eventually they spoke on the phone.
Read about it and watch his interview here.
Lt. Coffeey of NYPD doesn’t buy it and thinks Berkowitz is a con artist. Well he obviously doesn’t know the power of Jesus Christ. Praise God for this changed life!
What do you think?
Comments : 8 Comments »
Categories : appreciation, blessings, blogs i read, friends, grace, legalism, thanks
I want to thank those who comment on this site. I admit I have a long way to go in my relationship with God. The “Inner Pharisee” wants to come out more than I want to admit. Your comments and corrections are helpful. I really appreciate Francoise and Geekwad’s points of view because they don’t believe in God. I pray you encounter Him someday but I accept you and consider you friends. Big Daddy Weave and Texas in Africa often point out things I never thought about. Janna gave me some great insights yesterday. I have learned from Atheists, Charismatics, Anglicans, Fundamentalists, Moderates and Liberals.
I guess I’m like any recovering person. When I see what I was in someone else it repulses me. I am a work in progress thanks to God. But this forum has given me a worldview I never saw before. I’m sorry when I revert back to my old ways. I’m trying.
I just want to say thanks.
Comments : 35 Comments »
Categories : children, Christian, divorce, dysfunction, faith, family, grace, love, marriage, mercy
I was a blessed child–I know that. I lived I guess in a fantasy world. My parents have been married to each other for over 45 years. They are still serving God in fact their ministry is probably stronger today than it ever has been. In fact last week they did a marriage seminar in Virginia and 23 people made decisions to follow Christ. Over 50 couples recommitted their marriages.
When I was growing up in Tuscaloosa, AL in the 1970′s all of my friends liked coming over to my house. We weren’t rich in terms of money by any means but we were rich in love. I don’t mean that to sound corny but it is true. Many of my friends lived in highly dysfunctional homes and coming over to our house was a safe harbor. Many of my friends referred to my mom and dad as Mama Bussey and Papa Bussey.
I never realized how blessed I was. My father came from a highly dysfunctional home. His dad was an alcoholic. I found out recently that my mom’s family was not what I had grown up to believe. It is amazing that we grew up in a “Brady Bunch” world.
I didn’t really start understanding dysfunction until I got married. My wife grew up in a single parent home. Her dad was an alcoholic and lets just say she grew up in a verbally abusive home. Don’t ever think that children just get over the pain of their childhood. I don’t think it ever goes away.
In my ministry I encounter dysfunction on a regular basis. I think my life was the exception rather than the rule. I have been reading books and conversing with people in recent months that give me a picture of childhood I could never imagine.
What happened to my Brady Bunch world?
I really don’t think it ever existed. I was just blessed. But why me? Why didn’t I encounter the pain that Cassandra and my friends did? Why was I spared the pain of divorce? Why was I not abused? I realize I was blessed and I am thankful But when I hear stories of pain and heartache I don’t know what to day. It is sobering. It is disheartening. It is discouraging. But it is life!
I don’t think it is the way God planned it. I think it all went downhill in the Garden of Eden. But I also think it can be better. I know it was for me. There is hope. I believe God wants us to strive for more. I don’t have all of the answers. In fact I have a lot of questions.
What do you think?
Comments : 1 Comment »
Categories : discipleship, grace
The other night my son and I were about to have our Bible Study. We are going through The Blue Book by Campus Outreach. This is the same book I was discipled with 25 years ago at Samford.
I’m still learning about Grace. I can be a hard head sometimes as can Jacob. Somehow our time got out of control and I took away something from Jacob as discipline. It was suppose to be a time of Bible Study, instead it was a time of hurt feelings. I was wrong too. After a short while we made up and I went back in and we started our Bible Study. The verses we read were:
1 Peter 4:9-10
Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.
As I read that verse I felt bad for how I acted and Jacob was remorseful too. I asked him if he understood what Grace meant and he asked me to explain it to him. I did one better. I went into the other room and brought in the item that I took from him and said:
“Grace is getting what we don’t deserve.”
Then I gave his possession back to him and said this is “grace.” At that moment we both received grace. I am grateful that God doesn’t give me what I do deserve and gives me so much more than I do deserve.
How about you?
Comments : 5 Comments »
Categories : Christian, death, faith, funerals, grace, mercy, police, religion
Here are some pictures of the funeral of one of the fallen Charlotte Police Officers. Gene our music minister and I walked about a mile down from our church to the cemetery. I don’t know if I have ever seen so many police cars. There were police cars from all over North and South Carolina and all over the country. We saw cars from Florida, Arkansas and the Highway Patrol from New York!
We talked to several police officers and expressed our gratitude for their service. There were so many cars that they some had to park outside the cemetery and walk in. One police woman thanked us for coming. We thanked her for her service to us. The mayor thanked us for coming too. One of our church members said that we were on the 6 o’clock news.
Following the funeral procession I went to see a wonderful lady who very ill. It was sad to see her so ill and the pain in the eyes of her adult children.
Then we had a Maundy Thursday Service at our church. It was very moving. It was depressing on purpose. We tried to make the mood as somber as possible. It was eerie seeing Jesus on the cross following communion. We left the service in dark and silence.
Today is “Good Friday.” I realize it is good for us but how good was it for Jesus to die on a cross to pay for the sins of the world. I don’t pretend to understand why people hurt and die. I don’t understand why people suffer. I have yet to figure out why parents abandon their children. I don’t understand how a husband could beat his wife and children. I don’t understand how a person could kill another just because. I may be good for us, but it must not have been good as Jesus cried out to God. I can’t imagine how good it was for God to watch His Son suffer? I would have jumped in.
As bad as it was for God the Father and Jesus, the sacrifice made was “good” for us. I’m learning to become more Christlike every day. I wish I could say I’ve made it. I know I won’t this side of Heaven. I pray you have a “Good Friday” and remember what He did for us. For those of you who haven’t experienced God’s grace and love I pray you find mercy, grace and love here. Today is good for us because Sunday is coming.
What do you think?
Comments : 14 Comments »
Categories : adultery, Christian, church, forgiveness, grace, Hypocrisy, mercy, morals, president, religion
Yesterday someone named Mike posted the following on my post called I don’t get it.
FYI, Clinton confessed to his church in 1998 and repented as reported by Baptist Press http://bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=25273
That means no more Clinton infidelity comments or jokes, right?
I read the article and I think Mike has a good point. According to the Baptist Press article President Clinton expressed repentance to his church. Here is what Rex Horne President Clinton’s former pastor said:
In October 1998, Clinton wrote a letter to the 4,500-member congregation, asking for forgiveness. Horne at the time told the Arkansas Baptist news magazine that the president had expressed repentance and sorrow. He said he “sensed an affirmation of the president’s request for forgiveness” from “the great majority of the people” attending the service when the letter was read.
Horne has never publicly disclosed the contents of Clinton’s letter to the Little Rock church, citing it as a personal matter between a pastor and his congregation.
Many pastors and other religious leaders have fallen in recent years. Naturally most followers of Jesus want to be forgiving. But does that only include those in the “Evangelical” or “Religious Right” community? I admit I’ve been hard on President Clinton in the past. My hockey stick is somewhat bigger when it comes to liberal democrats.
Was President Clinton playing his pastor and his church? I don’t know. But I feel I need to give him the same benefit of Grace that I would to Ted Haggard or Rick Ousley. Who knows if someone is truly repentant? I think only God knows for sure. But as followers of Jesus we are to keep on forgiving even if it is someone we disagree with.
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times
I guess I have seventy more hockey sticks to pull out.
What do you think?