Twitter and Christ Hold Fast

Two weeks ago, I was sitting in the Orlando airport, praying that the people around me waiting for the flight didn’t notice me. I had just spent three days hearing amazing messages and meeting amazing people. Now, I was going home. I longed to see my family, but leaving the #CHF16 conference and folks behind had the tears flowing. I hoped the people around me didn’t notice that I was crying.

Fortunately, for the flight home I was able to get a window seat. Earphones in, staring out at either total blackness or the lit up cities below us, the tears continued. I just hoped that the couple next to me thought maybe my sniffles were just a cold.

A couple years ago, my wife got a Twitter account. It was something she was doing for a new role she had at work. I’ve been Facebooking for about 7 years…but I never saw a reason for having a Twitter. I set an account up to follow my wife.

Something happened. I started blogging a little over a year ago and linked my Twitter account. I started seeing people tweet about grace. I didn’t know these people, but I started following many of them.

Last summer, this page called “Christ Hold Fast” showed up in my feed. I am not sure why. I followed Paul Tripp, Tullian Tchividjian, and Preston Sprinkle…maybe it was one of them…or maybe it was someone in the group that I nicknamed “the grace people”. Anyway, I saw that they were having a conference. I thought it might be cool. Then I looked at the price. It was cheap. So I bought a ticket.

I sit here today, still in awe. I thought I knew so much about grace. God showed me much more at that conference, and revealed that there is way, way more for me to learn. I met some of the “grace people”. My Facebook friends list now includes a bunch of them. Lutherans, Presbyterians, but most importantly, broken people seeking God. Seeking not because on our own we want to seek Him, but by His grace He enables us to seek Him.

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The tears continue to flow. I will forever cherish the time I had with these brothers and sisters in Christ. It’s hard to believe those two weeks have gone by so quickly. I don’t know when, or if, I’ll see you again this side of heaven…but I want you all to know that being at the conference, meeting all of you, and hearing the speakers means more than I can explain in words. The uplift I got there enabled me to move forward with establishing a men’s ministry that’s been on hold for a while…inspired me to start my blog over again…and gave me the strength to get through losing my grandmother.

God is good. More than good; He’s great. He is the very thing that sustains us because He loves us. And He gives people the ability to invent things like Facebook and Twitter to connect us to one another.

 

recovering legalist

Dear God, it’s still happening. What the hell?Recovering Legalist

The legacy of performance-based legalistic Christianity is that it seems as though it never truly leaves me. I described myself recently as a “desperately recovering legalist”. Sometimes, it rears its ugly head when I’m focused on myself, but most often it happens when I am interacting with or thinking about the lives and situations of others.

First off, an apology. To every single human being that I’ve ever interacted with…I’m sorry. I’m sorry for somehow thinking that I had the right to decide where your relationship with God stood. I’m sorry for thinking your denomination wasn’t “right”. I’m sorry for thinking that I had to “share” my faith with you in such a way that would probably make you think “psycho”. I’m sorry to those who had a habit or engaged in a behavior that was prohibited by the “rules”, which therefore meant you were destined for hell.

Good news…gospel…truth. While I’m not a life-long scripture hound, I’ve been making up for lost time in the last two years. Being involved with two men’s support groups, a small-group Bible study, and a Sunday school class where the themes seem to be supernaturally woven together has really opened my eyes. Nowhere do I see “beat your brother over the head with this Bible when he swears” or “pull the cigarette out of your friend’s mouth and tell them it’s a sin”. Nothing says to stand outside a theatre or rock concert and tell people going in they’re headed for hell for attending. None of this. It’s all made up. Yet, I still think that I have to do this…or worse yet, that it’s OK to do this. Just today, I was on the phone with a friend and he said a cuss word. The internal legalist gasped and told me to admonish him.

Jesus Christ. Savior, friend…wow. It really is very basic. Trust, and become like a child. Grow, but always remain like a child. Oh, no…I can’t…what about following the list of rules??? Plain and simple…forgive as you have been forgiven. Love as you have been loved. Walk alongside as you’ve been guided.

I look around me. I’m surrounded by people. But I see so much more than I saw before. I see God’s precious creations. His children whom He loves. Stories to listen to. Tears to share. That’s all. Share what He’s done for me with them…tell them He can do it for them too. Love them, and let them love me!

Please forgive me. God will finish what He started. But He’s not finished yet. Please pray for me. Pray that when Dana Carvey’s “Church Lady” pops into my head, declaring “well, isn’t that special?” after I hear about someone’s sin, I’ll remember that I have not walked in that person’s shoes, but maybe I need to.

receiving grace

Lake Raystown MistAmazing grace, how sweet the sound

that saved a wretch like me

I once was lost but now am found

Twas blind but now I see.

If you are like me, you know at least one verse of this song by heart. I’m certain that I heard the song in my childhood, and even more certain that I would have heard it within the first month of attending church at age 12.

Hearing it is one thing…understanding is another. Accepting Jesus Christ as my savior was something I did at 12 due to fright. The church we attended was big on scaring people into heaven. While I’m certainly glad that He has been with me all these years, the way I came about my faith left a lot to be desired.

Grace became the subject of a song or something that was recited before a meal…but that’s about it.

Fast forward 32 years. After a life of trying so hard to be perfect, because after all, that’s what Christians do, I was on the verge of claiming there was no God. And thank God, He wouldn’t have it. He sent some amazing servants into my path. Things happened. The Holy Spirit moved in my life. I began attending church again.

But the most amazing thing happened. I learned that grace was something different than what I thought it was. Grace was God’s way of letting me know that in spite of how hard I tried, I could never get there on my own. I needed Jesus. A relationship with him. I needed to learn that no matter what I carried with me, His grace was there to get me through it. There is no perfection on earth, regardless of what I thought.

The last two years have been interesting…running, hiding, surrendering, accepting, learning. I could go on and on. God’s grace has truly been bestowed on me in more ways than I ever thought possible. I had wanted to write for a long time, and so out of my brokenness, RECEIVING GRACE was born, and now is being re-born as grace.on.cue.

Bibliography
Newton, John. “Amazing Grace.” 1779.

 

 

notes…

My notes from the first session I attended at the Christ Hold Fast Conference in Winter Springs, taken during Preston Sprinkle’s talk on his book “Charis”.

  • grace & obedience are friends
  • Jesus bled radical grace2016-02-23 12.12.14
  • the church is known for the very things Jesus stood against
  • we need to redeem the reputation of what Jesus stood for
  • the term “grace” has become too overused and generalized
  • biblical grace is not just leniency
  • unconditional acceptance makes God appear too passive
  • He is an aggressive God, pursuing people relentlessly
  • the backbone of the Old Testament is grace

Praise God for the opportunity to be there!

 

What is grace?

What is grace?

Grace is that medium by which God sustains our lives.

Grace is what God uses to give us victory over our sin.

Grace is how we are able to meet, greet, and embrace one another.

Grace is not something we should view lightly or just as a word. Grace is a real thing that is a tool. We need to ask Him to give us grace, as well as ask Him to help us show grace to others.

God bless!