The Reality of Grace

You can get used to the idea of grace. It’s God’s undeserved love. It’s getting a gift you never earned and could never repay. And I pray you hear it every week in church. After all, that’s the center of the Christian message: While we were still sinners, Christ Jesus died for us. And it’s nice, but… our sinful natures reduce the reality of grace to the idea of grace.

You can get used to the idea of grace. But the reality of grace always, always overwhelms.

I had a pastor’s car. It was… not in the best shape. Old by most measures of cars, the sedan had seen better days. In fact, the driver’s window had been replaced by plastic sheeting, so it was obvious just looking at it that it was not in the best shape. I didn’t mind so much. Retaping the plastic every week or two was a pain, but not the end of the world.

A member said he’d work on it; I accepted his offer. He came. Took the door panel off to see what he could see. Told me it was more complex than he could handle; he’d have to come back next week.

Not a problem. I’m pretty patient with these types of things.

And then… then God laughed. (more…)



Following our big dinner for the homeless last week, we’ve gotten a sudden increase in calls of people needing help. This doesn’t surprise nor bother me overly much, at least at this point. One family in particular, when I visited them, had nothing. No table, no television, just some mattresses on the floor of their apartment.

We were able to get some food – mostly canned things like soup and some spaghettios for the kids. And when I delivered, I found out… they didn’t even have a can opener to make use of our gift.

I looked. I found no can openers that weren’t incredibly expensive. I considered. Who in the congregation has a well-stocked kitchen that might be willing to donate an extra can opener? I thought for a little bit and called up a certain woman. I explained the situation and asked for a can opener for this family.

She said yes. Fantastic!

And then she asked if they had cups. Or dishes. Or bowls. Or silverware. Or a table. Or…

And she’s provided all of that. She wants no recognition at all; she simply wants to provide. I think I need to tell her to slow down, simply so the family doesn’t depend on us. I’m kinda swimming in the waters for the first time of what wise generosity is!

But it reminds me of something Jesus said. “Ask, and it will be given.” And in another place, “You do not have because you do not ask.” Here was a family that I might have had to say ‘no’ to. Yet, I thought to ask a member for them. And I didn’t receive what I asked for. I got a flood of blessings!

And isn’t that what Jesus does? We ask… and we receive such huge blessings far beyond what we ask for! Even if the answer is ‘no,’ the blessings flow so much more.

We ask for forgiveness for the sins that most bother us… and Jesus answers with a flood of blessings. “Here, I won’t just forgive that sin, but EVERY sin! And I’ll give you baptism as an assurance that you are my child. And I’ll give you my very own body and blood in the sacrament to assure you and give you forgiveness. And I’ll tell you again and again, too!”

And from there flow so many other blessings…

Basically, my member taught me this week: ask. Doesn’t mean I’ll get what I’ll want of course, but I should ask.

So, I guess I’m going to ask more often instead of just assuming the answer will be no!

Want More Generosity?

2 Corinthians 9:8-11 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 9 As it is written:

“He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor;

his righteousness endures forever.”

10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.


Want more generosity?

  1. Know the Generous One
  2. Be a generous one (more…)

…it’s a baby. Yep.

My wife gave birth to our third child this morning. Apparently it’s a big deal.

Now, I love this kid. He’s awesome. He’s a blessing given by God, and it’s a blast to see him lying right over there while I’m typing this in the hospital. He’s my third, though, so I’m familiar with all this. Yes, still a blessing. Yes, I need to remember how small and fragile these kids are when they’re born. But I’ve been this route a few times before.

I expect close friends and family to be happy with us. It’s no surprise that grandmas and grandpas and close family are celebrating. We’ve done this before. Again, I know what to expect.

This is the first time we’ve had a child while I was a pastor, though. And… well, the excitement of the congregation is a little overwhelming. So many congratulations and wondering when we can visits and offering to helps and so on and so on… and it’s hard for me to figure out what I “should” say yes to and what being a good husband and father necessitates me saying “no.” We’ve had such an outpouring of generosity — for instance, people have fought to take care of our other children while we’re in the hospital. It’s a bit of a balancing act to not offend anyone!  (more…)