Wisdom Wednesday: The Grace Problem

I came across an interesting article titled “The Danger of Abusing the Grace of God,” in Charisma Magazine a couple days ago.  In the article, David Ravenhill elucidates some very interesting facts concerning the perversion of God’s grace in our society today.

The theology of grace tends to be problematic for people who struggle with the commitment to doing things God’s way.  On one hand you have the ideology that through the blood of Christ, grace erases all of our sins, and gives us a perpetually clean slate (which is true).  On the other hand, however, you have scriptures like Romans 6:14 which states,

For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

So what’s the real deal with grace?  Is it a license to sin, or is God holding us accountable for our actions?  Is it just a “get out of Hell free” card, or is it more than that?

When we fail to understand the purpose and the original intent of God’s grace, it leads to willful disobedience, and then to statements like, “God knows my heart.”

I believe grace is directional, and comes with great responsibility.  For all intents and purposes, God’s grace should lead us in the direction of holiness, not away from it.  It is the room and space to grow into the image of Christ, while daily going through the process of overcoming sin (yes..it is a process).  I believe God’s original intent in provisioning us with His grace was to cover us while we are actively engaged in the sanctification process.  This sanctification process is only perfected within us by living in His presence daily via prayer and Bible meditation.  As long as we are in this world, we will have to deal with sin and spiritual shortcomings.  However, the key to living above sin is our connection to Jesus Christ.  We must take this union seriously if we are to live victoriously.

At what point do we stop making excuses in the name of “grace” and start fighting the “good fight of faith?” (1 Tim. 6:12).

What do you think?  Is it possible to abuse the grace of God?  Have you ever witnessed grace abuse?  If so, how did it change you?

All dialogue welcomed…Let’s talk.

BE

 

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The Five P’s of Victory

One of the greatest fighters who ever lived, Muhammad Ali, once said:

“The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses…it’s won behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road long before I dance under those lights.”

 

We’re all familiar with the exuberant elation that comes from winning something.  We equate winning with being the best and the greatest within our league.  Let’s face it, there’s just something about the thrill of power that comes with the number one spot.

On the other hand, I’m sure most of us have had the experience of being served the bitter dish of defeat by an opponent.  This can conjure up emotions of agony that totally deflates our egos causing severe “pride-reversal.”

Although this paradigm exists, there are those that seem to have a knack for winning.  They always win the title belts, the gold medals, and the trophies.  They are the champions of our day.

What do those people do differently?  Some may argue that it’s strictly genetics.  Although this may be true on some level, I believe there is a system or a process for ensuring victory in our lives which can be summed up by the Five P’s of victory:

  1. Passion
  2. Process
  3. Power
  4. Performance
  5. Pay-Off

Passion

Passion is defined as a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something.  Passion is the engine deep down in your belly that keeps you doing what you love, even when you’re tired, nervous, or even hurting.  Passion is the power that pulls you through your process.  It’s the secret weapon of success.  What you are passionate about is often an indicator of your true calling.  Even though this is the most fundamental indicator of your intrinsic purpose, it is perhaps the most elusive.  God has placed within you certain abilities and giftings that set you apart from everyone else.  It’s up to you to accept the challenge of unlocking the God-given power within you by discovering and embracing your unique passions.

If you expect to be an overcomer, then you must be passionate about your purpose.  Passion is what locks you into the “why” of what you’re doing.  In the absence of passion, quitting becomes easy.  What’s pulling you into your purpose?

Process

All champions have one thing in common; on some level, they value training, coaching, and development.  Training is the process of conditioning via instruction, discipline, or drill.  It is the preparation for a test of skill.  Generally speaking, it is the passageway through which the ordinary walks to become extraordinary.

I am a Black Belt in Tae-Kwon-Do, and have received several awards and trophies in the categories of forms and sparring.  I recall the days leading up to a tournament or testing, and how physically and mentally demanding it was.  I never enjoyed the process that I had to endure to produce excellence, but when those trophies were in my hands, the pain of the process seemed to dissipate.

God’s plan for your life is worth your present pain.  Diamonds must be cut before their brilliance is truly revealed.  Gold must be liquified before its purest form is revealed.  In like manner, the treasure that is within you must endure a refining process before your true essence and beauty is manifested.   1 Peter 1:7 states:

That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ, [KJV].

Power

A very interesting phenomenon takes place during the training and developmental process.  Put very simply…you change.  If change does not happen on some level, then the efficacy of the process must be called into question.  You gradually become stronger, faster, wiser, and more confident.  The journey itself challenges you as you navigate the course required to reach your destination.  In turn, the obstacles that you encounter change you as they force you to reevaluate your current condition in relation to the desired goal.

When we pray for certain things, in most cases, God will answer with process.  For instance, you may pray for a spouse, but God may answer with a very difficult person that you have to work with on your job.  The process of working with that person sets you on a journey of self-discovery, where you learn that you are very impatient.  God’s message to you is this: before He brings that special someone into your life, you must learn patience.  The co-worker is just a pawn in the process.  When you learn to be patient with your co-worker, you’ll be better equipped to exercise that same muscle of patience with the person who will one day be your spouse.

The strength to bear the weight of what comes with your destiny is only acquired on the road to your destiny.  God is more concerned with your ability to maintain the demands that come with the next level, than the glory of crossing the finish line.

Performance

What do you do when it’s time to execute?  Can you handle the pressure of being on the grand stage, or do you experience the dreaded “performance anxiety?”

This phase of the process is where battles are either won or lost.  You can spend all your time training for the big day, but if you can’t fully execute, then all of your hard work will be in vain.  God always affords us opportunities to execute what we have learned in theory.  Hearing the word of God taught in church is like training on a punching bag.  The opponent isn’t real and it doesn’t punch back.  The real fight is in the ring of temptation and tribulation, when the real enemy, Satan, engages you on the battlefield of your mind.

When it’s time to perform, can you produce the will to execute what the drills were designed to teach?  The performance always reveals weaknesses in your training.  How you train is how you perform.  Any fighter worth his weight in gold knows that in order to perform at the highest level on fight day, he must push past his limits during his training.  If he skips training days and binges on Doritos and Honey Buns everyday, then fight day will reveal those weaknesses and punish them in like fashion.

Process is designed to reward diligence and punish indolence.  You get to choose the outcome of your performance based on how you handle your process.

Pay Off

In the world of sports, victory is never guranteed.  That’s what makes sports so magnetic.  It’s the charge of adrenaline that comes from witnessing the end result of training and its ensuing victory.  Champions aren’t champions just because they win, they are champions because of how they think.  A champion expects victory even though he knows that victory is never guaranteed.  The expectation of victory increases the probability of experiencing victory.

You should be jumping for joy now as you read this, because you live by a different law called the Law of the Spirit of Life (Romans 8: 2).  This law guarantees victory in your life when certain conditions are met.  1 John 5:4 states:

For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith, [KJV].

Beloved, if you have been born again, you are guaranteed victory.  You’re an overcomer, but you must have faith in the victory Christ has won.  Through him, you have already overcome your greatest struggles.  It’s not just about winning, it’s about overcoming through the blood of Jesus.

Your process has prepared you for the very battle that you are facing now.  The enemy is no match for you and your Lord Christ.  Victory in Christ is guaranteed.  Together with him, you can conquer every opponent that tries to take your crown.

Romans 8: 35, 37: Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us, [KJV]. 

As always, thank you for visiting Wisdom’s Quill.  See you soon.

BE

Editor: Jaime Evans

Turbulence: A Sign of Your Elevation

The first time I stepped on an airplane, I was bound for Miami, FL, on my way to what would be an incredible family vacation.  It was a beautiful, partly-cloudy day with pristine skies; a perfect day for flying.  As I stood gazing out of the airport window, I was overwhelmed by the sheer immensity of the aircraft as it approached the gate to receive its passengers.  I was so nervous, I could feel my heart pounding in my throat.  It was frightening and exciting all at the same time.

I sat down in my window seat, fastened my seat belt, and eagarly endured all of the pre-flight checks.  I was ready for my first flight…

…Or so I thought.

As the plane began its taxi in preparation for take-off, the deafening shrill of the jet engines penetrated the plane’s cabin as we rounded the runway to position number one.  The captain’s voice calmly flowed through the speakers informing us that we had been cleared for take-off.  A few seconds later, the engines fired up and before I knew it, I was pinned to my seat as the plane catapulted down the runway at a furious speed.  I could feel the G-Forces pressing against my chest as the front of the plane tilted upward and took to the skies.

As I looked out of my window, the ground fell away, and the cars grew smaller and smaller until they were completely out of sight.  Ultimately, we ascended to about 35,000 feet and leveled out in smooth flight.  The snow-white clouds beneath us were like huge, fluffy pillows suspended in the sky.  Everything was so quiet and still in the cabin, I wondered if we were moving at all.

Then…that’s when it happened!

All of a sudden, the plane started to shake and shift violently in mid-air.  My question whether we were moving or not was horrifically answered.  I felt the drops and dips of the plane in the pit of my stomach as we encountered what is known as Clear-Air Turbulence (CAT).  I thought my heart was going to jump out of my chest.  All I could think about was how high up we were.  At 35,000 feet, I gripped the armrest, and held on for dear life.  As I looked around, I noticed that the more experienced flyers were strangely calm.  Some were even sleeping.  I wondered to myself how they could remain so poised while we were being tossed around thousands of feet above the ground.

Just before I went into all-out panic mode, the captain’s voice came across the intercom very nonchalantly saying:

“Hi folks, looks like we’re experiencing some rough air.  I’m going to change altitudes to see if I can find some smoother air.  Buckle your seat belts and bear with me until we level out.”

At that point, the plane began an upward thrust, and in a few minutes, the shaking stopped, and all was calm again.

 

 God, The Almighty Pilot

Our lives are much like flying in an airplane at 35,000 feet.  God will sometimes allow us to hit a rough patch to shake us up a little.  When we’re navigating through this life, there are times when we get comfortable and forget that we were destined to lead lives of greatness, significance, and productivity.  We were created to serve in the capacity which God has ordained for us, thereby leaving a legacy in the earth long after we are gone.

We are ambassadors for Christ 2 Corinthians 5:20.  This world is not our final destination.  We are in flight to another place; another world.  Not only that, but we should live our lives in constant pursuit of God, who ushers us to higher altitudes in Him 2 Corinthians 3:18.  So you should never get too comfortable in the current state that you’re in.  Always expect more.

I believe that turbulence is designed to be a reminder that we are en route to the next level of our lives. The altitude at which you’re flying may not be sufficient for you any longer.  Maybe you’ve outgrown the job you’re in, or the group of people you’ve been hanging around, and you’re starting to experience some type of turbulence in your life.  Maybe you’re experiencing some rough air in your health or your finances.  Take this opportunity to seek God for direction, because quite often the turbulence is a sign that you’re on Heaven’s docket for elevation and promotion.  One of my favorite Bible verses is 2 Corinthians 4:17:

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.

When God has elevation planned for you, trouble tends to always preceed your promotion.  However, rest assured, there is another level of glory just waiting for you on the other side of that rough air.  God is preparing to take you to greater heights, and the turbulence is your cue to go ahead and check your attitude, and start expecting a change in your altitude.

When turbulence hits, many times the only thing you can do is just ride it out.  As difficult as this may be, faith and patience becomes the keys to receiving the blessing.  Hebrews 6:12 reminds us that this is how we inherit the promises of God.

The more frequently I travelled by air, the more I started to realize that turbulence was just a part of flying.  Now that I understand a little more about what turbulence is, I understand why the people on my very first flight were able to remain so calm during the shaking.  Now, I’ve turned into one of those calm flyers.  When turbulence hits, I just keep my seat belt buckled and just ride it out.  Even though the turbulence may seem extreme, and your faith may be rattled, remember who is piloting your life.

Be encouraged my friends.  The turbulence that you’re experiencing is only temporary.  It won’t last forever.  In fact, The Almighty Pilot,  just may be preparing to elevate you to a new altitude in Him.

Buckle up, and ride it out…

ELEVATION IS ON THE WAY.

As always, thank you for visiting Wisdom’s Quill.  See you soon.

 BE

Editor: Jaime Evans