The Sufficiency of Grace

I’ve got a message for you today. You’re not going to like it. It’s about grace.

I was feeling really crappy last week. I mean, really. On the verge of hysterical screams, in fact. My stress level was out of control, and I just couldn’t seem to pull it together. So I did something to put my pain into perspective. I found a picture of the crucified Jesus on the Internet (see right), made a little motivational poster out of it and hung it up in my cubicle at work. It said, “Even Jesus had bad days.” And below that, 2 Corinthians 12:9: “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'”

There was something terribly poignant about that verse and that image coming together. Two hours later, I wanted to tear the poster off the wall. Continue reading

At the Intersection of Faith and Politics: The Christian Response to Immigration

A family member emailed me recently, asking to hear my thoughts on immigration. To be honest, I hadn’t before pondered the issue within the context of my faith. Immigration, particularly illegal immigration, is a sticky topic at present and not one I prefer to dwell upon much. But as I weighed this request, I realized that the Bible does have some meaningful things to say regarding the Christian response to foreigners within our borders, both legal and illegal. And I think there are many who might find such a teaching helpful.

Illegal immigration is a tough issue to discuss precisely because it intersects those delicate lines of faith and politics. On the one hand, the Bible commands believers to extend generosity and equal rights to foreigners. On the other hand, illegal immigrants are lawbreakers. They’ve found some way to circumvent the system, sneak across the border, and make legal immigration tougher for those who wish to respect our country’s laws. So, what should the Christian perspective be?

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Bono on Jesus

When I’m not posting to my own blog, one of the things I love to do is read other blogs. One of the regulars on my reading list is the blog of Frank Viola, a writer and church planter who promotes organic, home-based churches. Recently, he shared an interview by Michka Assayas with the singer Bono of U2 on the subject of Jesus. Usually, I’m not very interested in things celebrities say, especially on religious subjects, but I absolutely love Bono’s perspective here. So, please, enjoy this post and be sure to check out the rest of Frank’s blog on Patheos.

For my personal perspective on Jesus, see my blog post here.

On the Altar of Sacrifice

Once upon a time, there was a guy named Abraham. He was really old and afraid that he’d die without an heir. But then God gave him a promise: his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore. A couple of decades later, Abraham’s son is born–the firstfruits of a great promise.

And then God tells Abraham to do something unthinkable. He is to take his son up on a mountain and sacrifice him to the Lord. We know how the story ends: Abraham goes up to the altar, the Lord stays his hand, a ram gets the knife instead (see Genesis 22).

Atheists like to use this passage as evidence of God’s cruelty, even though Abraham kept his child in the end. But I think this scripture is indicative of something else–of what it means to be, as Romans 12:1 says, a living sacrifice. Continue reading

Unequally Yoked: More Thoughts on Marriage

Image from shyjumathew.com

I recently read an article on The Christian Pundit entitled “It Matters Whom You Marry,” and I agreed with pretty much everything it said. Choosing who will spend your life with you is a critical decision that will impact your whole life–physically, emotionally, spiritually and relationally. I can’t tell you how frustrated I get with women who pine after men who couldn’t care less that they exist. That said, the article expressed a sentiment that I find increasingly common among Christian writers. It goes something like this:  

If the guy is not a believer, you can stop right there. You have no business yoking a redeemed soul with an unregenerate one, even if he seems open to change. Christ has bought you with a price and it is not an option to give away that blood bought heart to someone who doesn’t know and love your Lord. It will cripple your spiritual development, open up a host of temptations, stifle your prayer life, make regular church going difficult, and cause massive parenting conflict if you have children. […] The health of your eternity is at stake. Think carefully.

Should you marry someone who shares your faith? Yes. Will it make married life easier? Absolutely. But the going assumption seems to be that if your spouse isn’t a believer (specifically if you’re a woman), then your marriage is not only doomed to misery, but your own salvation will be jeopardized. It also assumes that if your spouse wears the Christian label, you’ll always be perfectly in tune and marital conflicts will rarely, if ever, arise. Which is hogwash. My dating experience taught me that there’s a big difference between wearing the Christian label and actually being Christ-like. Let me illustrate. Continue reading