Friday, February 19, 2016
If there was ever a message that is needed for every person in our nation, this is it. It doesn't come from a politician running for president or a pastor or Pope. It comes ironically from a basketball coach! Monty Williams speaks from the heart at the funeral of his wife who was killed when a driver crossed over the medium and collided head on of the car his wife, Ingrid Williams was driving. Williams' eulogy has been called "inspirational". But it goes way beyond inspiration. With all the political and racial unrest in this country, Monty Williams' eulogy is the Gospel and one message that could somehow heal every person and bring this nation together, if only people would watch it and take it to heart. Please watch the message, (7 minutes) and believe it! Act on it! Live it!
Thursday, February 4, 2016
Viewing some Facebook pictures of friends on the ski slopes today, I began reminiscing about the many times I went on ski trips and how much I enjoyed flying down the mountain. Then suddenly a thought occurred to me about how much skiing down a mountain is so similar to the Christian life lived in grace. There is such a great sense of excitement, joy, peace and freedom on those slopes, much like a life lived in Christ. Unfortunately, I've run across so many non-believers and even Christians who miss out on that kind of life in Christ because they live by works instead of experiencing God's grace and living from that grace.
When we reach the summit on God's grace (riding in the gondola), now we get to live by grace through His power and spirit. It's like the joy of skiing the slopes instead of constantly having to climb up and down the mountain. I am free to live my life in Him, for His purpose, to love God and to love and serve others with joy. I fly down the mountain joyfully with a new purpose propelled by the spirit. Yes there are markers and warning signs along the way, boundaries in which I am to stay within. But the slopes are wide and well defined. I have no burden of the law to carry with me so my way is swift, light and exhilarating as I encourage those who are laboring up the mountain, to accept God's grace, to get on the grace gondola and to fly down the slopes of grace as well.
Snow skiing provides a great visual picture of the difference between living by works versus living from grace. Use your imagination. Picture a mountain with a ski slope. To experience the joy of skiing, obviously one must get to the top of the slope. There are two ways to get to the summit, one is by the ski lift and the other is to climb up on your own. The lift has been built and paid for by one so that you can get to the summit.
I remember taking my first ski lesson and having to traverse up the hill several times with skis on as part of the learning process and how exhausting it was. When we finally got to go up the slope on the ski lift, I thought, wow this is great! Why didn't we do this from the start? That is much like my Christian life also. I grew up in a Christian home but my early life as a believer was spent trying to earn my favor with God. I didn't realize that the cost had been paid for already and that I didn't need to and couldn't earn my way to heaven or God's approval. Once I learned to live from God's grace, life became so much easier and more joyful.
In this spiritual analogy to skiing, everyone has two choices to get to the mountain top. You may choose the way of grace, the ski lift, to get to the summit or you can choose to climb up on your own. On your own is not only very exhausting, it is impossible because there is a canyon that prevents anyone from reaching the top on their own (sin). God says I have paid the price for you to get to the summit with my life, believe in me, take my way, the ski lift. Yet, how crazy is it that people choose to follow other religions which give out all kinds of instructions on how to make the climb yourself or try to tell you how to make it with this expert guide even though it is impossible to make the climb on your own.
Salvation by grace is the foundation of the Christian faith and is what separates Christianity from all other religions (Ephesians 2:8-9). We know that non-believers stumble over grace and that becomes their greatest barrier to an abundant relationship with Christ. And yet we see believers often fall into the same trap. Once having received grace, suddenly they try to live by works. They will twist scripture and add their own rules and codes of conduct just as the Jewish religious leaders did. And once you fall into that trap, you begin to feel the weight of living under the law and life feels like walking up the side of a mountain with skies on. The Apostle Paul admonished the Galatian believers to live by grace. "How foolish can you be? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?", Gal 3:3.
Why live like so many Christians who have taken the gondola up the mountain only to refuse to ski down, opting instead to walk. Why would anyone want to settle for a life of climbing up and down when God has provided a way that is so peaceful, joyful and free? Choose God's grace! John 10:10 "I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly." John 8:36, "So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed!"
Live in grace and by grace!
Photos courtesy of Pixabay.com
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