I was recently talking to a college pastor friend of mine who was catching me up on his ministry. He told me about a conversation he had with one of his students regarding grace. The conversation was whether or not people who don’t know Christ can actually show grace. The argument was that how can someone who does not know the expanse of God’s grace really be able to show any grace at all.
After thinking about this for a while I believe that it is possible for someone who doesn’t believe in Christ, or even know him, to show grace and forgiveness. Comparatively the amount of grace that we are really capable of giving is extremely limited compared to the grace that we receive from Christ. However, I do believe that all of man kind have the capacity to show grace, because we are all made in the image of God. The metaphor that I have come to love when talking about grace is that the amount of grace that God shows us is like an ocean. You will never be able to see the other side from where you are. in the song How He Loves by John Mark McMillan there is a line that reads…
“Drawn to redemption by the grace in his eyes
If grace is an ocean we’re all sinking”
The amount of grace that we show is more like a small pond. You can still swim and sometimes put a boat on it, but it is almost nothing compared to the Pacific or the Atlantic. It is important to remember though that even though in comparison is looks like nothing, it is still something.
A conversation that I recently had with, Austin, a man that I look up to in so many ways made me think about how I have viewed my faith. I began thinking about the fact that I have only believed in God since I was 18. After about two years of going to church and bible college and meeting more and more Christians I realized there is a major downfall to how people view their faith. That downfall is that many people are too quick to try to put a spiritual bandaid on things and not willing to actually tangibly act out their faith. For example people are willing to pray that God will comfort people, and not willing to actually be Christ to this person by trying to comfort them. All too often when I am talking to people my age about some of their problems they tell me “don’t tell me to just go pray about it because thats what everyone tells me and it isn’t helpful.” I realize the truth behind that. So I decided to push against the overly spiritual and try to be an example of tangible faith.
During the conversation with Austin I finally realized that in the process if trying to help others see that faith is just as much tangible as it is spiritual. I fell on the other side of the fence. I had taken my faith and made it dominantly tangible with a hint of spirituality. Austin and I started talking about how many is the only creature on earth to be both 100% physical and 100% spiritual. This conversation really got me thinking about how important balance is in our lives. After my conversation with Austin I had planned on watching Everything is Spiritual by Rob Bell for the first time. It was really a great video where Robe Bell addresses some of these issues of man’s humanity as well as our spirituality, which confirmed a lot of the thoughts on balance I had. Somethings are not black or white. Some things are not yes or no. some things are not left or right. Somethings need a balance. Life needs balance.
I say all this to ask…. Are you balanced?
Something that has been on my mind lately is the power of words. We have the power to build up or tear down most people simply by the things that we say. Whether we mean for them to or not our words have power over other people. While I was in college, I had to take and introductory speech course. While in this course I had to write a speech on life changing words that I have heard or read. I wracked my brain and probably came up with something that sounded really impressive to the professor and other students in my class (or they thought I was pretentious). Either way I have no idea what those words were.
As I was working at Starbucks I asked the other barista’s over the super neat walkie-talkie headsets we get to wear what were some of the life changing words in their life were. After I asked this I realized I did not have an answer to my own question, and this got me thinking. What is something that I have read or heard that has seriously impacted my life? I wish that I could say that they were deep words about the love of Christ or about how living a good life would impact others or even something serious at all.
My life changing words came from my mother when I was about eight years old and were “98% of men are a**holes (obviously censored). Be part of the 2%.” Obviously this statistic was made up by my mother. However, the impact of this ridiculous statement was not lost on me. These words have stuck with me more than almost anything else, unconsciously in the beginning of course. Now that I look back on my life and my passions I see how this statement has worked itself into my personality, actions, beliefs, and thoughts. I laugh as I think about how sometimes it is the things you don’t expect that stick with you.
What are some of your life changing words?
In a conversation inspired by a sermon on seasons by Jim Powell and watching the first Nooma video “Rain” by Rob Bell my small group and I were talking about seasons. More importantly stormy, rainy, wet, nasty seasons. We were talking about how it always storms. It seems that no matter how hard we try to avoid it or how much we prepare for it, it always storms. This was not new information to me. I have endured my share of storms in my life. Some big, some small.
Another thought that was brought up is that our lives seem to work in cycles between the seasons. This is something that I have been wrestling with for a long time, but then we recalled the sermon from Jim Powell. One of the points Jim was making is that a lot of the time we tend to see our season in life from day to day. We don’t take time to look at the big picture. I realized how true this was when I looked into my own life, and saw how differently I viewed my seasons on a week to week basis. I saw events or weeks as how my season was going with out trying to step back at look at the big picture. Looking over the past month or two helped me put my season into perspective. Realizing how often I did this made me re-evaluate the season of life I thought that I was in right now.
Towards the end of this conversation a quote from one of the most amazing men I have ever know came back to me. His name is JK Jones. He was one of my professors in college. I wish I could say that I learned and retained so much information from him, but then I would be lying. However, the one thing I will never forget is a quote from one of his prayers. He said “Thank you God for the rain, because that shows us that you know what we need before we do.” I thought this made a lot of sense. If we only have bright sunny days, then everything will wither and die without the rain. On the other hand if we constantly have rain and storms, then everything will drown and die. When I sit down and think about the cycle of seasons in my life, I am now thankful. Thankful for the seasons of storms and rain that challenge me to grow and prosper, thankful for the seasons of sunshine and cool breezes, and thankful for all the seasons in between.
What is your season?
Your mission… Something that a lot of people choose not to accept. This is a response to my post over a year ago. That really got me started working on my personal mission statement. There is not one mission for everyone, but everyone should have a mission. Everyone has different passions and different ways of forming their mission statement. This is something that I think that we all need in some way. whether you call it a mission statement, a manifesto, purpose statement, or whatever. The reason I feel so strongly about this is because I am constantly hearing people complain they do not know what to do, or they don’t have a purpose. I feel that there is a simple reason that most of these people feel like they don’t have a purpose, they haven’t taken time to try to figure out what their purpose is. They have not spent the time to sit down and figure out the root of the things they are passionate about, things that trouble them, things that bring them pleasure. more often than not people look at their outside circumstances to determine their purpose in life. This is a poor view of your purpose and of yourself.
A couple months ago I sat down and read an article from one of my favorite websites, The Art of Manliness. The article was called “How to Write a Personal Manifesto.” It talks about the importance of having a personal manifesto and how to write one. This is not an absolute fool proof way to write a mission statement, but it gave me a nudge in the right direction. I spent a full 10 hours working through this and trying to figure out how I could express my mission.
What I ended coming up for my mission was two fold:
- To help heal broken people to God and the Church…
In all situations I will express the love and grace that I have seen God pour out on me to all people around me. No matter the creed, color, character, career, or orientation.
- To help turn boys into men…
I will do my best to walk along males no matter the age to help mature them into men. Men who have dignity, passion and a desire to stand up for what is right.
This is still a work in progress, and may never truly be complete. The point is that once I was able to sit down and look at what I wanted to do in life, then and only then, was I able to see purpose in my life.
So your mission, if you should choose to accept it, is to actually write your mission.
I have had a few different posts I have been waiting to publish. Trying to tune them so they say what I want them to say, but here is something raw.
We all have scars. Some physical, some not. I have 3 main physical scars I can think of, but what do they mean? the scar on my right calf is from when I was playing football in the street with my friends. the one on my upper left thigh is from when I was hit by a bus while riding my bike to the park to meet some people I didn’t really like.. I do not know where the two on my feet are from.
This is how I got these scars but what do they represent. The one on my right calf is a lesson in humility. That when you put so much time and effort into trying to impress people you may end up hurting yourself. The scar on my upper left thigh represents the loneliness we all feel. When you feel like you are alone in the world you will find almost anyone to try to fill that void. Sometimes in that process end up putting ourselves in harms way. The two on my feet are the unknown on the paths we walk. Knowing that the unknown can be painful an leave scars, we still have to be alright walking forward.
What do your scars mean?
It has been quite a long time since I have said anything on here. Not for lack of content, rather lack of motivation. I want to be clear as to what this site will be. Thoughts of a Grizzley Bear is not a ground breaking theological blog, it is not a deep personal journal for the world to read, it is not a culturally controversial tabloid. All this is meant to be is a place for thoughts to be shared and discussed. I can’t promise a post a day or a post a week, but I promise to put care and thought into what I post.
This is just a thought that I had and wanted to get out there so I did not pass it by. Part of the pharisee’s problem was that they were trying to obey every single command from the Torah to the letter, and confusion arose when Jesus would talk about things like the sabbath. I feel like a lot of, if not most, ‘christians’ are doing this with the Bible. The Bible is not a prescription that you can just take to know what to do with everything. It is a description of how we are meant to live our life as followers of God. The whole God. All of the time I hear over and over again that we are followers of Jesus Christ. Yes we are, but is that all? However, back to what I was saying. A lot of people are taking the Bible like a pill, quickly. They just assume that you will understand everything after listening to sermons, or taking a few classes. To me the Bible is not a prescriptive pill that goes down easily, rather it is a descriptive process of how to live for God that needs to be worked through. A process that I’m not sure has an end in which we can see. It is a process of ‘getting it’. When we think that we have ‘got it’ we are missing it.
Something that has weighed heavily upon my heart these last few weeks is my lack of mission. This feeling started when I rediscovered a great musician, Lupe Fiasco, Muslim MC. Everything that Fiasco does has a place in his mission. His new album that will becoming out next month is fully devoted to his manifesto. Each of the 14 songs on the album are to represent one of the 14 points of his manifesto, www.wearenotlosers.com. Even in one of his songs He speaks of a young man with a mission of ‘getting his mama to a better neighborhood and taking care of his baby and baby mama.’ It made me realize that I do not have one mission that guides my actions.
The next light to this fact was that was when I was watching the new Robin Hood. Robin Hood is my favorite movie of all time. It didn’t take me long to realize that it is Robin Hood’s mission that Drives him on so hard. His mission is to ‘Take from the rich and give to the poor.’ This mission drives him in everything he does. Everything he does goes to ward helping the poor, the oppressed, and the needy.
The fact that I could not find my mision has effected me mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and as a result physically. I have been wracking my brain in order to figure out what drives me. What drives my thought,my words, and my actions. I have thought about well isn’t ” to follow Jesus” a mission enough? No! Thats like sailing a boat and saying that you want to sail. There is little general direction, and no strategy. “Well how about to be like Jesus?” No! My mission has to be something that I can refer to whenever I need to make a decision. It has to be something that I am along with what I need to do. I have come up with a first draft of it, and It is a work in progress, but I know that starting to figure it out will move me forward in my journey.
“To live out an expression of the Love and Grace of Jesus showed to humanity to those who can see and hear me.“
O’ LORD! Your grace and greatness overwhelm me.
I desire so much to be closer to you, but I find myself closing the door.
I desire to have a heart of peace and joy once more.
You have and will never give up on me, and you will never stop loving me.
I desire to have and hold you in my heart once more.
I desire for my heart to sing and scream no other name but yours.
Categories: Faith, Love, Psalm