When talking about grace, we often give negative connotations to words like effort, performance, and accomplishment.

They become four letter, anti-grace cuss words.

And if one is gaining their approval from God and others based on what they do, than a negative perception is the correct one.

We cannot earn or be worthy of God based on striving and effort. Broken people produce broken things. This means we cannot improve on perfection.

This line of thinking is reflected by the oft heard cliché, “We are not human doings, but human beings”

True…

But there is another side to achievement.

If we have our value and worth in God, based on what He has done for us, then there is a proper place of accomplishment in our lives.

God created us to work.

Improving on Perfection

August 11, 2015

When you merge something with impurities into something pure, it brings corruption.

In mathematics, we know a negative and a positive equals a negative.

As broken and flawed humans, we cannot improve the work of Christ by something we do, say, feel, or think.

Many times we are told the way to be a good Christian is “Jesus + (insert something we do or don’t do, an attitude, or a Christian discipline.)”

Consider some of the Christian activities we insert into this equation…

  • Prayer
  • Church attendance
  • Missions
  • Tithing
  • Spiritual gifts
  • Bible reading
  • Obedience

The list could go on and on. Notice the things listed above are all good things. We could easily attach a Scripture reference to each one.

The enemy would never think of convincing us that we need “Jesus + fornication or drugs” in order to be pleasing to God.

Dark Night of the Soul

August 4, 2015

Most of us are familiar with this term. Many have experienced a true, dark night of the soul.

All of us can relate to times when our journey was at least a “dim night of the soul.”

The phrase originated with St. John of the Cross who contemplated this from prison. He spoke of “how God changes us not just through joy and light, but through confusion, through disappointment, through loss.”

This background first came to my attention through John Ortberg’s book, Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You.

Ortberg says, “God’s love is not content to leave us in our weakness, and for that reason, he takes us into a dark night.”

Our greatest enemy during these seasons is a lack of patience to wait for whatever God would give us, in the timing God chooses.

  • We want rescue now!

Soul Keeping

July 28, 2015

“Hurry is the great enemy of the spiritual life in our day. You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.”

These were the words given to John Ortberg by Dallas Willard. They were the foundation on which Ortberg launched into a journey to discover a healthy soul life.

Soul Keeping: Caring For the Most Important Part of You is a collection of reflections on his conversations with and mentorship by Dallas Willard. Ortberg blends in decades of pastoral experience into this work.

For me the book started solely with some “scholarly” definitions of the soul, but soon branched into loads of practical application.

Ortberg tackles rest, gratitude, works and grace, as well as the disappointing seasons known as the “dark night of the soul.”

Here are some of the best quotes from the book: (JO=John Orterg, DW=Dallas Willard)

Remember

July 21, 2015

The idea of “Remember” is key in many areas of our lives.

To remember means:

  • To not forget.
  • To remind.
  • To reorient oneself to a previously determined course.

It is no wonder God uses this term often. With Israel, He always challenged them to remember the covenant. They were to observe many festivals and feasts, all designed to remind themselves of God’s deliverance, provision, and character.

These were holidays built into the calendar. In South Africa, we do this as well. One of my favorite ones is Freedom Day. This day remembers the struggle against apartheid and Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom.

The Bible is full of things to remember:

  • Remember your Creator. (Ecc. 12)
  • Remember the Sabbath. (Ex. 20)
  • Remember the wife of your youth. (Prov. 5)

Why all this talk of remembering?

Simply put, because we are forgetful.