Can’t Touch This

Remember MC Hammer’s big hit: U Can’t Touch This?

When it comes to the subject of money, many people are singing Hammers’ tune…

It’s private. None of your business. This is between me and God. You talk about money too much.

U can’t touch this.

I said it before and I’ll say it again: Grace Changes Everything.

Grace changes our heartstrings and our purse strings.

Grace makes us aware of how much God has provided for us – and it makes us generous.

Yes, with grace – U can touch this!

“God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you.” (2 Corinthians 9.10 NLT)

God’s provision produces a harvest of generosity in us.

It’s impossible to have received God’s grace and remain selfish and stingy.

Our giving reflects our receiving – of God’s grace.

Grace makes us generous.

Grace has Stones

When a bunch of crusty, mean, self-righteous, religious dirtbags caught a woman in the act of adultery, they pounced at the chance to bring judgment.

In front of a big crowd, they asked Jesus, “The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”

They were having the time of their lives… a good old fashioned stoning was about to get underway, and they were confident their question would make Jesus say something that could be used against him too.

Unfortunately for them, Jesus was perfect example of confident strength, courage and grace.

As they pressed Him for an answer, He stood up and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!”

All her accusers left.

Think about Jesus’ response… “let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone.”

Who is the one who has never sinned?

Jesus. He’s the only one who has never sinned.

He’s the only one with a right to throw stones.

Jesus has every right to judge and condemn – to throw the stone – but instead he gives grace.

Grace has stones – and the right to use them, but chooses to set them down.

The lady in this story was having a very bad day:

Caught. Embarrassed. Humiliated. Judged. Condemned. About to die.

And then grace stepped in.

The story of her bad day was rewritten with a new ending: Rescued. Loved. Forgiven. Accepted. Freed.

Having a bad day? Bad week? Bad year? Bad life?

Your story isn’t over yet!

No matter how bad things have gotten, grace will rewrite your story.

Grace Destroyed 38 Years of Trying

I celebrated my 38th birthday a few months ago. A certain Bible story captured my attention because it features the number “38” – it’s the story of a man who was sick for 38 years…

The Bible doesn’t give the guy’s name, so I’m gonna call him “Phelps.”

Phelps tried everything he could to get better. He spent his days hanging out by the pool of Bethesda – a place some believed to have “healing powers.” According to the legend, angels would occasionally stir up the water of the pool. If you were the first one to jump in while the angels were doing their thing, bam! You would be healed.

So, Phelps is there by the pool – waiting for the whole angel-hot tub-healing thing. Only problem: Phelps isn’t having any success with this method either. Because of his sickness, he needs help getting into the pool. Other people keep jumping in before him.

38 years of trying – and Phelps has nothing to show for it. He’s been sick for a long time. No change. No results. Same old story…

And then grace shows up. Jesus comes by one day, sees Phelps by the pool and asks him, “Would you like to get well?”

Phelps starts in with the explanation of why he can’t get healed: “I can’t sir – I have no one to put me into the pool when the water bubbles up. Someone always gets there ahead of me.”

Jesus doesn’t react to Phelps’ superstition / messed-up theology. Instead, He gives grace – a wonderful, unexpected and totally undeserved gift of God’s favor to Phelps. He says, “Stand up, pick up your mat and walk!”

Instantly, Phelps was healed. (John 5.1-9)

Incredible! Grace shows up and destroys 38 years of trying.

That’s what grace does – it accomplishes the very thing we’ve been trying to do (unsuccessfully) for years.

Grace alters the course of our lives. It changes our destinies. It rewrites our stories.

Maybe you’ve been “trying” for years and years…

The way I see it, you have two options:

Keep on trying (and get the same results you’ve been getting).

Quit trying, and let grace change everything!

I’m 38 years old – and I’m done trying, working, striving, straining, freakin and stressing.

Grace showed up and has completely destroyed my 38 years of trying… accomplishing what I never could.

It’s not Fair!

I remember playing pickup basketball when I was a kid. Guys would usually “shoot for teams” – until the shooting went on and on for 20 minutes ‘cause nobody could make a free-throw… then we’d start selecting players using the team captain approach.

As the games got underway, new guys would show up and get assigned to a team.

I don’t know why, but it seemed like the last guy to show up was always Kobe Bryant… or some kid who was Kobe-tall and had Kobe-skills.

Here’s the deal: whichever team “Kobe” got assigned to always won. If he was on my team, we won. If he was on the other team, they won.

It really wasn’t fair. It was just the Kobe-reality.

This brings me to my point: grace isn’t fair. It’s the undeserved, unmerited favor of God in your life.

When grace shows up in your life, it’s not fair… but the scales just got slammed down in your favor. Victory is guaranteed.

“Overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.” (Romans 8.37 NLT)

How the game of life started out for you does not predict how it will end.

Maybe you couldn’t make a free-throw to get into the game. Maybe you were the last pick: “I guess we’ll take that kid”. Maybe you feel like you deserve to lose…

What you deserve really isn’t the issue – Jesus is!

It’s not fair. That’s grace.

I am who I am not because of anything special about me. I don’t have any Kobe-skills.

I am who I am because of grace.

“Because God was so gracious, so very generous, here I am. And I’m not about to let his grace go to waste.”
(1 Corinthians 15.10 MSG)

Look, if you have Kobe on your team, enjoy the game, savor the win and celebrate like a champion!

Don’t let God’s grace go to waste.

You’ve been given something sooooooooo wonderful.

Enjoy. Savor. Celebrate.

Your Story, Interrupted

The laws of cause and effect, reciprocity and karma have been interrupted.

Your story (the one you should have based on what you’ve earned or deserve) has been rewritten.

Grace changes the outcome.

Grace steps in and changes everything.

It interrupts, alters, intervenes, modifies, changes, transforms… it rewrites your story!

Grace is a gift – it means you’re receiving favor that you don’t deserve.

“God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” (Romans 5.9 NLT)

Christ didn’t die for perfect people, he died for sinners. That’s grace; that’s the Gospel.

Grace changes your story. Who you were does not predict who you’re becoming when grace is involved.

“Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! All of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ.” (2 Corinthians 5.17, 18 NLT)

Paranormal Activity, KCMS & Maritime Ghosts

Recently, someone was telling me about the scariest movie they had every seen.

He said, “Paranormal Activity was so scary, I had to flip on all the lights in the house and turn on Spirit 105.3 KCMS.”

His reaction (turning on all the lights and Christian radio) cracked me up.

I haven’t seen the movie (and won’t), but I believe him… I’m sure it’s scary. I’m just not a fan of scary stuff.

In my opinion, a big percentage of fear is learned, nurtured and developed.

I don’t like to feed fear in my life.

Years ago, when my daughter was a baby, I was forced to play the role of the devil in an illustrated sermon at church. The makeup artist must have been a fan of horror movies, because I was painted up like some type of a bloody Skeletor dressed in a Count Dracula’s cape.

After the performance each night, my daughter would see me up close and personal before I could get out of the costume and makeup. She was never afraid. She had no context for what I was supposed to be. She hadn’t yet learned to be afraid of bloody Skeletor.

Her peaceful reaction to me (looking the way I did) left a lasting impression on me… I don’t have to be afraid!

There’s a fun story in the Bible about Jesus’ disciples attempting to cross a lake in the middle of the night. A big storm picked up and their boat was in trouble.

As they struggled to keep their cool in the storm, they saw something that really freaked them out:

“About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water, When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, ‘It’s a ghost!’” (Matthew 14.25, 26 NLT).

I think it’s funny that they went right to “It’s a ghost!” instead of “That must be Jesus coming to rescue us!”

I wonder if they had just been sitting around telling ghost stories?

It wasn’t some maritime ghost, coming to torture them – it was Jesus, coming to save them.

“Jesus spoke to them at once. ‘Don’t be afraid,’ he said. ‘Take courage. I am here!’” (Matthew 14.27 NLT).

Where Jesus is, there is grace.

Feed on grace – not fear!

Focus on how good God is – not all the possible scenarios of terrible things that could happen to you.

Learn, nurture and develop the good – not the bad.

“You’ll do your best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious – the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.”
(Philippians 4.8 MSG)

Fear Sucks

Fear sucks the life, strength and courage right out of you.

It distracts.

It paralyzes.

Grace, however, changes everything.

Grace fills you with new life, strength and courage.

It gives focus.

It mobilizes.

Where Jesus is – there is grace.

“Don’t be afraid… take courage. I am here!” (Matthew 14.27)

Today’s Forecast: Free of Worry / No Room for Fear

When grace shows up in your life, some other things are forced out… like worry and fear.

Grace reminds us that God is good – he loves, gives and forgives.

“God is love.

When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us.

This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day – our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s.

There is no room in love for fear.

Well-formed love banishes fear.

Since fear is crippling, a fearful life – fear of death, fear of judgment – is one not yet fully formed in love.”
(1 John 4.17, 18 MSG)

Today’s forecast: living in grace… free of worry, with no room for fear!

Why I’m Bald

Yesterday was Father’s Day. It got me thinking about all the things I got from my dad… like baldness. I have the exact same bald patches on my head as my father. I’m pretty sure it’s in the genes.

Another thing I got from m dad: my striking good looks – I’m just a younger version of him.

I also got his skinny tie from the 1960’s. I wore it on Sunday. It’s pretty fly.

My dad provided for me – I never had to worry about the basic needs in life. Because of him, I’m confident and secure.

My dad has always loved my mom – and I never had to worry about our family breaking up. His example taught me how to love one woman faithfully.

For my entire life, I’ve watched my dad worship God, serve the church faithfully, give generously and encourage his pastors. He modeled loving God, loving people and loving life… and I totally get it.

My dad doesn’t yell, stomp, get violent or lose control. He has shown me how to be calm, live peacefully and not let my emotions get out of control.

My dad taught me to work hard, give 10% to God and save money from every paycheck. He paid cash for every car. He paid off his home mortgages early. I’ve never seen him use a credit card. He saved for family vacations. He never spent more than he made. He helped me buy my first car. He paid for half of my college education. He gave me the down payment for my first house. He retired at age 50 because he could.

Because of my dad, I’m not in debt, I know how to handle money, I know how to invest and I’m taking care of my daughter like he took care of me.

We went on family vacations every year. Because of my dad, I love to travel (and I like road trips).

My dad loves dessert – I got that from him too.

The worst words I’ve ever heard my dad say: crud, crap and knucklehead. I’d be doing pretty good if that was the worst stuff coming out of my mouth.

I love my dad. Because of him, I know how to hire plumbers, mechanics and other handy-man types… and I know that everything I got from my dad (including my bald head) is a blessing.

Thank you daddy.

Grace Does…

When you get to know Jesus, you discover what grace is all about.

Know Jesus & you will know grace…

Grace loves, gives & forgives.

Grace changes everything.

Without it, we’re all sunk. But grace is our lifeline.

Grace is the good news.

Grace does what we can’t.