All posts tagged: grace
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cam-newton-press

For those who know me, I’m an arm-chair football fan. I don’t know how to read a defense or where every player went to college. But I do love watching the game – and for better or worse, it’s America’s game. Preface: I’m not really a Cam Newton or Carolina fan… but this subject has just bugged me all day long.

Yesterday was the game of all games – or at least it was supposed to be. Super Bowl 50, with the nearly undefeated Carolina Panthers and the never-give-up Denver Broncos. All week long chatter was all about the incredible athleticism and unconventional antics of Cam Newton versus the more mature, seasoned and “gentlemanly”, Peyton Manning. Both teams with top rated defenses, both teams with hopeful quarterback leaders. It should have been quite the game.

The game, in my opinion, was a bit of a let down. Defensively, both teams shined – like really shined. Offensively, both teams came up pretty short. But what the internet is buzzing about today is just how bad Cam Newton looked and how bad he handled himself. It was classic. Superman, was shown to be nothing but a man… who could be beat. Again and again and again. And it wasn’t pretty. No dabs. No smiles. No running into the end-zone and celebrating. Instead we saw frustration, rolling eyes, tantrums and finally an ungraceful walk out of a press conference.

Here’s what I’m bummed about… it seems like everyone loves the fall of Cam Newton. He didn’t beat his kid, or his girlfriend. He didn’t use performance enhancing drugs, or any other drugs that we know of. He didn’t cheat. He didn’t kill anyone. But he lost the Super Bowl, badly – and everyone loves it, and that he had it coming to him.

Seems like we love to see the fall…

Here’s my thoughts. The guy is a superstar quarterback – there’s no denying that fact. He’s also 26. Do you remember being 26? Did you say and do stupid, immature things? (PS – if you’re around 26, you’re probably saying and doing stupid, immature things, you just don’t know it yet). Did you feel invincible? None of us want to be defined by our worst moments. And last night was one of Cam Newton’s worst moments, as a player, leader, and role-model.

What do we need in our worst moments? We need grace. We need people who love us to surround us, be honest with us, challenge us, and yet still be “on our side”. I hope that Cam Newton has some of those people in his life – I’m sure he does. And I hope he’s able to sift through the wave of internet hate, get back on his feet – a little more humble, a little more mature – and do what all us football fans want him to do: play great football.

Maybe rather than pointing and waving the finger at people when they fail, we should try and help them back up and not join the mob.

preaching-grace

I’ve been following Bill Giovannetti for a while now after reading his book, “Grace Intervention” – a book recommended by my lead pastor, Scott Treadway of Rancho. Recently he wrote an article, “Why I Preach Grace-Filled Sermons
Your congregation needs rest, not a “to-do” list“. for Christianity Today and it’s so worth the time. I recommend it to anyone who is leading or teaching in any capacity in the church-world (teaching pastors, youth pastors, children’s pastors/teachers, small group leaders, Christian school-teachers, etc.)

Below I’ve summarized my favorite quotes from the article – but you really need to read through the entire article.

You cannot expect broken people to live holy lives just because you tell them to. Fill up their impoverished spirits with the “unsearchable riches of Christ” and watch grace work its transforming magic.

Any preaching that decouples the Christian’s duties from the power of Christ will always make Christianity feel like running through quicksand. Be holy. Serve God. Get involved. Love your neighbor. Give. Give some more. Take a missions trip. Be a better person. Read your Bible. Pray. Join a small group. Be radical. Conquer your lusts. Beat your addictions. Obey. Do. Go. Serve. Harder. Faster. Better. Never enough!

So many times, your listeners come to church worn out by life. Many feel deep failure. The weight of adversity presses hard. Guilt and shame lurk at the door. The cross of Christ is what they need. Paint on the corridors of their imagination an indelible picture of all their failures and troubles being swept away in the tidal wave of Calvary’s love. If you don’t run to the cross in your messages, your people won’t run to the cross in their trials.

When Jesus forgave the woman taken in adultery, he left two messages ringing in her ears: “Neither do I condemn you” and “Go and sin no more” (John 8:11). These are important, not only for their content, but for their order too. Until “neither do I condemn you” gets hard-wired into your listeners’ souls, “go and sin no more” remains impossible.

Someone had to say, “Yes, it sounds too good to be true, but it is true, because Christ is that good.” Why not become the church in your city that unburdens, unshackles, and de-stresses people? Keep shifting the burden to God. Build a bigger trust in a God more gracious than your people ever dared dream. Buy your Inner Taskmaster a one-way ticket to a permanent vacation.

We often wrestle through these types of statements as we put together message themes at our church – and more and more are realizing the value of highlighting the amazing, lavish, forgiving, burden-lifting, freeing, relentless grace of God. And how as we highlight that, we at the same time magnify how great God is and just how great the price paid at the cross by Christ and the incredible victory of the resurrection. We are free from sin and free to live a full and meaningful life by the grace of God. It’s a beautiful picture of just how good the “Good News” is!

If this rings true and you’ve never read “Grace Intervention“, you should do that. Also, Bill is releasing a followup book called “Grace Rehab” and he releases quotes from it on his Facebook Page.

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Church is made up of imperfect people. If you believe the Gospel, then you realize that those imperfections are covered by God’s grace. That’s the core message of the Bible, and of the church.

At Church (and by “Church” I mean the evangelical, Christian, American Church), we say things like:

  • “We are a family”
  • “Come just as you are”
  • “We are a place of forgiveness”
  • “We are transparent”
  • “We are authentic”

And the list goes on…

What happens when we fail to live up to the calling of Christ? What happens when we don’t measure up to the standards we’ve set for one another? Not just leaders… all of us?

My experience has shown me that when this happens, all that talk about family, grace, forgiveness, transparency, and authenticity suddenly seems empty. The place that is supposed to be the safest, most supporting, most loving, most forgiving, suddenly becomes a place to be avoided.

How can this be? How come when we need help the most we run from it? And how can the place that is supposed to help, commanded to help, how can it suddenly, and sometimes viciously turn on it’s own?

No easy answers here, just a lot of incongruence.