As God has been unveiling a tiny piece of the beauty and magnificence surrounding such an intangible concept, I sit awe-struck in the stands. It’s so incomprehensible that all of humanity can’t wrap their minuscule brains around it. It’s so beautiful. So totally unexpected in the story of mankind throughout history. It’s so beyond us, far above anything we could have ever come up with.
I mean, really, would you have come up with the concept of ‘grace?’ Treat un-respectable people with respect. Treat unloving people with love. Treat anti-God people with the gift of God. Our whole flesh nature cries out for justice, for fairness, for consequences and rewards. At least most of us can understand the concept of sin and the separation of unholy beings from a Holy God. That makes logical sense — if we are willing to admit it.
But Grace? It’s a twist in the entire plot. It’s a fourth dimension exploding our three-dimension world.
Stooping down to lift us up out of our sinful humanity, our utter depravity, our desperate rebellion. Releasing us from our sin, by taking our place so we would have the option to never pay the PENALTY. Forever.
That astounding mercy is great enough. But Grace doesn’t stop.
Letting us out of our dungeon. Forever. To be free from the PROBLEM of sin and live in HIS FREEDOM.
Wow. And Grace keeps going.
Welcoming our filthy existence daily into HIS PRESENCE.
BAM! Even if I could possibly comprehend the cross, I would never imagine in a million years that He would ever want to see us again. Saving from sin, maybe, but saving us to Himself? I mean, really? Daily put up with us?
Not only that, but ADOPTING us as HIS CHILDREN. Identifying HIS holy and precious name with our dragged-in-the-mud title.
It gets better. The privilege and honor of Him COMMISSIONING us to be HIS IMAGE-BEARERS to a lost world. Flat out GIVING His precious name to US. Wow. What responsibility and trust.
And not only that, but promising to GO WITH US, to DWELL INSIDE US and be our STRENGTH, our INNER CORE, our PROTECTION, and our GRACE TO OTHERS.
We can’t even give others grace. We have to borrow His grace to give. Get that.
In class this summer, one of the girls repeated a quote from the book we’re reading through: “Love that goes upward is worship; love that goes outward is affection; love that stoops is grace.”
I attached to this quote, but something about it rubbed me wrong. And then I realized: it correctly defined what I give others as Not Grace. Hardly affection, at best. Often more bordering worship. I love in order to be loved.
The reason is because I’m not stooping. I’m on the same level as the rest of humanity. Each one of us, made in Christ’s image. Each one of us, blind and desperate without Him. I deserve nothing, so can’t demand any rights to be respected by others. The love I give others is usually barely that. Selfish love. Not grace.
Only God truly gives Grace.
And maybe that’s why it remains so pure, marvelous, and beyond my wildest dreams.
“While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jarius, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher anymore?” Over hearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid just believe.” Mark 5:21-43
This summer I went into my three month internship with some expectations. Some of them were met, others were not. Having been at Gospel for Asia for a month last year, I did not expect to be out of my comfort zone as much as some of the other interns. Boy, was I wrong.
Everything was going well until one day we went to Celebrate Freedom. There we were to pass out the new No Longer a Slumdog books. To be honest, I was scared and I told another intern straight out, “I don’t think I can do this.” Now, I’ve been at multiple events in the past representing Gospel for Asia but this time I was intimidated because I actually had to STOP people who wouldn’t normally stop at this kind of booth. I was really insecure about this. After our group prayed to God though, it was almost as if He was strengthening all of us to go on and I noticed as my time went on, I became more and more excited about passing out the books.
Once I was in the airport over the July 4th weekend, and I saw this man sitting by himself on the other side of the terminal. God kept on pushing me to go and talk to Him, and each time I said “no” the conviction I needed to go over there got stronger and stronger. Eventually it go so strong, I knew I had to go and talk to him. So I went over and sat with Him and started asking Him some questions. I knew God wanted me to give Him a gospel tract, but I went away before being able to give him a Gospel tract. I was too afraid.
God, as He always does used my failure as a time of teaching. He comforted me saying, saying, “Even though you fail, I still love you.” That really boggled my mind a lot.
Also during this time, I came to the place in Grace Awakening by Charles Swindoll where it talked abouat not fearing being the most common command of Jesus. This greatly encouraged me during this time.
I’m still not perfect. God will continue to challenge me to get out my comfort zone, as he challenges all of us in our weaknesses. Yet, one thing I do know, God will work through us as we turn to Him whether through our weakness our strengths.
“God is our refuge and strength a very present help in trouble.”
This is a verse that my little sister wrote out for me on a piece of cardboard before I left home. It has been sitting on my desk since I got to Gospel For Asia but it was only today – more than a month later – when I realized that this is what God has been teaching me for the whole time I’ve been here. Whenever I mess up or feel homesick, God is with me. I think that He has let me mess up so much while I’m here simply so I will rely on Him and remember that I am here for His glory – not because I am qualified. He is always so near to me. I am learning to listen to His voice and to accept His grace and peace.
His grace is His loving favor even when we continually mess up. He cares for me so much that he made a way for my sins to be forgiven. When I would be guilty before His throne – unable to have a relationship with Him – doomed to eternal hell, He sent a sacrifice. His son died for me that I might stand before him even with my imperfections. He can no longer see that I am not perfect.
Matt said in class this week that often we go before God and ask Him “How can You love me when I have done this sin?” He said that God just looks at us and says “Why are you bringing that up again? I distinctly remember forgetting that.” Our God keeps no record of our wrongs or our shortcomings. He only wants us to be able to live life to the fullest through being made into the likeness of His Son.
I learned two valuable things from God’s Word that helped me get through the year in the School of Discipleship. The year was the best year of my life, but it was also tough.
Lesson #1- Before I became a believer I was a rebel and so full of anger. Every week it seemed I was rebelling against authority and getting the police called on me.
Most of this happened in 8th grade. One year later I found Jesus and my heart changed towards my authorities and I began to love and respect them.
When I came to the School of Discipleship I was put into a new situation where I had a Christian authority over me – my house leader. I struggled with that but soon enough through living under my house leader and reading K.P.’s book Touching Godliness Through Submission and reading examples from God’s word my heart started changing towards my authorities.
Hebrews13:17 says, “obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.”
God really spoke to me through this verse. I realized I need to be praying for my leaders and submit to their authority.
Praying and being thankful for my leaders really changed my attitude toward them and I began to really love and appreciate them. I didn’t so much show rebellion on the outside, but on the inside I had rebellion in my heart towards my leaders during the beginning of the year.
From that Hebrews passage I realized that my obedience and cooperation with my leader would make their duty as a leader a joy and not something they dread or fear.
If we put our heart right before God and obey His Word then I believe we will submit to our authorities with no problem. This is something God taught me that was very valuable and even today I’m continuing to learn this.
In light of this, I used to hate cops, but today I find myself thanking God for every cop that I see on the road. They’re God’s delegated authority and I see them as one of God’s tools He uses to protect us and watch over us.
So, every time you see a cop thank God for them.
Lesson #2- The second big lesson I learned during my year was in going through testing and trials and hard times that don’t make sense.
My house went through the story of Joseph as a Bible study. He is like my favorite old testament guy and probably my favorite old testament story. Just how He went through trials and yet obeyed God and saw what God was going to make of this situation just amazed me.
Though he was mistreated by his brothers and then put into slavery, Joseph always thought positively and saw that God was going to bring about good in this situation. I learned I need to apply this to my life, to think positively in every situation and to know that God will bring about good in every situation…He’ll bring about maturity and growth in my life as the book of James says.
What I didn’t know was that soon after going through this study I would go through possibly one of the most confusing and dark times of my life as a believer.
A Monday evening I got a call saying my biological father had a heart attack and passed away. I thought it was a nightmare. I was confused. I was told I needed to come home right away.
The next day I flew home to Iowa. I didn’t know what to do, I was so confused and I didn’t want to talk to anyone. But everyone at Gospel For Asia showed me love in this time and I felt Jesus’ love more then ever before.
After a week I came back to Dallas and was ready to be back to serving the Lord where He had called me.
I saw God’s faithfulness in so many areas as I walked through this dark time. Joseph’s life example and the book of James helped me go through this time. Aww, it’s so good to be apart of this Gospel For Asia family where there is so much love and grace.
So, those are the two lessons God brought me through during my year in the School of Discipleship and I’m delighted to share them with you and hope you’re encouraged. Gospel For Asia is a great place, especially being a part of the School of Discipleship!
Be encouraged. If you come here for a year, you will be in good hands! It was the best year of my life, despite the struggles I had!
I am still struggling with this “transparent” idea about living honestly in front of people. We had all-night-prayer last friday and I found myself zoning around 1 am. One of my friends was praying and I was totally blanking on whatever they were saying and just gazing into the nothingness outside. A few seconds of this and I notice someone glance over at me and instantly I squeeze shut my eyes and put on a very “spiritual” look that resembles the most passionate of prayer-warriors and begin to mumble “mhms” and “yes Lord” in agreement with my friends prayer.
Bit pathetic? You bet, and its not like this was a one time thing either. I am always finding myself doing this. During morning prayer I am forever having to check my motivation because the prayers I am letting come out are more directed at the person listening to me then they are to God, the one who is actually doing something about these prayers.
Ah, but its a process, and there is grace 🙂 we are all learning. sometimes I just which I could catch on a little faster…