The Grace-Shaped Life Some years ago I underwent a heart procedure. My heartbeat had the regularity of a telegraph operator sending Morse code. Fast, fast fast. Slooooow. After several failed attempts to restore healthy rhythm with medication, my doctor decided I should have a catheter ablation. The plan went like this: a cardiologist would insert two cables in my heart via a blood vessel. One was a camera; the other was an ablation tool. To ablate is to burn. Yes, burn, cauterize, singe, brand. If all went well, the doctor, to use his coinage, would destroy the “misbehaving” parts of my … Read More

Chapter 16 – Life Aboard the Fellow-Ship  “Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don’t see things the way you do. Romans 14:1 MSG” “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. Romans 15:7 NIV” Grace makes three proclamations. First, only God can forgive my godlessness. “Only God can forgive sins” (Mark 2:7). Dealing with my sins is God’s responsibility. I repent, I confess, but only God can forgive. (And he does.) Second, only God can judge my neighbor. “You cannot judge another person’s servant. The master decides if the servant is doing well … Read More

The summer before my eighth-grade year I made friends with a guy named Larry. He was new to town, so I encouraged him to go out for our school football team. He could meet some guys, and being a stocky fellow, he might even make the squad. He agreed. The result was a good news-bad news scenario. The good news? He made the cut. The bad news. He won my position. I was demoted to second string. I tried to be happy for him, but it was tough. A few weeks into the season Larry fell off a motorcycle and … Read More

The old guy at the corner hasn’t seen him. The woman selling the figs hasn’t either. Jesus described him to the scribes at the gate and the kids in the courtyard. “He’s about this tall. Clothes are ragged. Belly length beard.” No one has a clue. For the better part of the day, Jesus has been searching up and down the Jerusalem streets. He didn’t stop for lunch. Hasn’t paused to rest. The only time his feet aren’t moving is when he is asking, “Pardon me, but have you seen the fellow who used to beg on the corner?” Finally, … Read More

Real love changes people. After all, didn’t God’s love change you? Weren’t you blind? You couldn’t see beyond the grave. You couldn’t see your purpose in life until he showed you. And you couldn’t hear either. Oh, your ears functioned, but your heart didn’t understand. You’d never heard of such love and kindness, and you never would have heard of it, but God spoke in your language. And, most of all, he set you free. You are free! Free to run away. Free to harden your heart. Free to duck down side streets and hide behind trash cans. But you … Read More

Opening the Windows When a believing person prays, great things happen. (James 5:16) Imagine yourself in a dark room. Windows closed. Curtains drawn. Shutters shut. In the darkness it’s hard to believe there’s daylight beyond the drapes. So you grope and try to feel your way across the floor. You take a step, disoriented and unsure where you’re headed. Progress is slow and the journey painful. Stubbed toes, bruised shins, broken vases. It’s hard to walk in a dark place. Harder still to walk in a dark world. But many try. And, as a result, many are wounded in the … Read More

It touches each of us, sooner or later. A friend, a brother, a co-worker, or perhaps, you. If you haven’t been affected by divorce, you probably will be-it’s one of the signatures of our society. In today’s culture, divorce lurks and leers like a predator surveying his prey. What does God say about divorce? What scripture-based counsel is available for those whose hearts have been broken by divorce? For those considering divorce, what guides can keep them committed to the marriage? As we study this painful topic together, remember this: God hates divorce. But the same God who hates divorce, … Read More