Failure: The Beginning of Grace

F

When I was a freshman in college I was a very responsible student. There were moments in college when I was not a responsible student, but when I entered college I was very serious and I hated getting bad grades.

My freshman year I took a history class that was one of the most difficult classes I’ve ever taken.

It was on American History and there was no text book. The seemingly uninterested professor would walk in, ramble for an hour and a half and then we would take tests on his lecture. And that was it.

The only way you could do well was by taking really good notes. For an hour in a half you would write down what he was saying and he talked fast, without a lot of passion and he was not a very nice guy and my attention span was about 30 seconds.

When people would ask him questions he would say, “Well you weren’t paying attention and I don’t repeat my lecture.” He was just degrading.

The first couple of tests I took I got C’s. And I’m not a C kinda dude. It was very irritating.

There was one paper at the end where we had to write about a historical person and this was going to be 50% of our grade.

I knew I had C going into the 50% of the grade project. I wrote a whole paper on the life and leadership of Harry Truman. I worked through Thanksgiving break and I worked hard. I’d never worked so hard on a project.

When I got my paper back this was on the cover of my paper. “F”

I needed therapy for this one. This one hurt. It was just excruciating and he was such an intimidating professor. I didn’t know what to do.

I didn’t want to ask him why he gave me an “F”, but I did.

I set up an appointment to meet with him in his office. It was the scariest thing I’d ever done. As I walked in, I kept my head low and I swear I could hear Darth Vader breathing.

As I approached his desk I said, “You know I worked really hard on this paper and I don’t know why I got an F.”

He grabbed my paper from my hand, quickly glanced at it and said in a very degrading voice, “Well your references were wrong.”

I’d used one book primarily for those references and as I showed him the book and he shot back, “See I have the same book and your references were wrong. You made them up.” He was challenging my integrity.

As I looked at my book and I looked at his book, I realized that I had happened to have the paperback version of the book and he had a hard cover and so the pages were different.

I gently and humbly showed him the difference and Professor Darth Vader realized that all my references were right and he looks down at my paper and, I’ll never forget this, he drew a line down the right side of the “F” on my paper, and made the “F” an “A”.

I was in shock. I didn’t know what to say? I wanted to say, “May the force be with you!” But I didn’t! I walked out quickly before he could change his mind.

My point is this. In life sometimes we feel like life’s a big “F”, that we failed. And we’re afraid to go to God because our image of God is that he’s an angry, bitter professor. But when we go to God, just as we are, he offers us his grace and he turns our lives from an “F” into an “A”.

“For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people.” Titus 2:11

“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. 24 Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.” Romans 3:23-24

Anybody in the mood for some GOOD NEWS?

BurkinaFaso2009 448

According to my friend, advocate for children and the executive producer of 58: The Film, Dr. Scott Todd, there is some exciting news: http://www.live58.org/ http://www.amazon.com/Fast-Living-Church-Extreme-Poverty/dp/1936899000/

In the past 8 years, the number of kids dying from measles has declined by 78 percent because we are completing the work of immunizing every child.

22 countries have cut their malaria rate in half in only six years. They did it with insecticide-treated bed nets, access to better medicines, and spraying to kill mosquitoes.

Globally, malaria infections have decreased by nineteen million per year and malaria deaths have dropped by 140,000 per year between 2005 and 2009.

We used to say that 40,000 children die each day from preventable causes. In the 1990’s, that number dropped to 33,000 per day. By 2008, it dropped further to 24,000.

The number of children dying before their 5th birthday has been cut in half and we did it in a generation using a wide range of practical strategies, from creating access to clean water to training skilled birth attendants.

Every day there are 19,000 fewer children dying of preventable causes—every day!—despite the fact that the total number of births is increasing.

1/3 of the children who were uneducated because of poverty can now go to school. Literacy rates are climbing. Those gains were made in less than ten years.

The spread of HIV has been curbed. New HIV infections have been cut 16 percent globally.

Until 200 years ago, every nation on earth had an average life expectancy of about thirty years.

Today, many countries have a life expectancy of close to eighty years. We have more than doubled the average length of our lives. This is not only true in prosperous countries. Throughout the world, even Africa, the average life spans have nearly double what they were two hundred years ago.

The same trend is true for poverty. When we were living for only 30 years, over 90 percent of us were also living in extreme poverty(Living on $1.25 a day or less).

Poverty and short life go together.

Today there are about 1.4 billion people living in extreme poverty. And that is good news. In 1981, 52 percent of the world’s population lived in extreme poverty. Today that number is 26 percent.

We have already cut the percentage of people living in extreme poverty in half! And we did it in one generation. And that is with only 9% of American Christians tithing.

Do you see our potential? Do you see our power? It is time to raise our expectations!

Scott C. Todd PhD exhorts us from his book Fast Living, “The question is not, ‘Can we end poverty?’ The question is, ‘How can we end poverty?’”

Mother Teresa in her book, No Greater Love says, “If our poor die of hunger, it is not because God does not care for them. Rather, it is because neither you nor I are generous enough.”

Watch this short video:

Soul Fatigue

Soul Fatigue

A famous American explorer who spent a couple of years among the savages of the upper Amazon, once attempted a forced march through the jungle. The party made extraordinary speed for the first two days, but on the third morning, when it was time to start, the explorer found the natives sitting on their haunches, looking very solemn and making no preparation to leave.
“They are waiting,” the chief explained to the explorer. “They cannot move farther until their souls have caught up with their bodies.”

Humans are interesting beings.

We keep moving because we are afraid to stop.

We keep moving because we want to impress our boss, our friends, our peers.

We keep moving because if we slow down, we will have to deal with our soul (our inner most thoughts and feelings), and that can be a scary thing.

To numb the emotions of the past, the frustrations of the present and the fears of the future , we ignore our soul (the real part of us) and we work harder and faster, hoping that we can outrun and outpace all those feelings.

When it comes to soul fatigue, Jesus offers some comforting, words when he says, “Come to Me all you who are weary and carrying heavy burdens and I will give you rest.”

Jesus offers something very counterintuitive.

He says, “Come to me.”  He doesn’t say come to religion or follow a pastor or join a denomination or follow a set of self-help principles.

He says, “Come to Me.” It’s about a relationship with the creator of the universe.

We are a people desperate for soul rest! Yet we seek rest for our souls in strange ways. We eat more, drink more, escape more, we even move around more hoping we can ignore our tired soul. We read self-help books hoping that we will find some magic formula. We are hoping that somewhere within us, we can muster up enough strength to make it through the day.

Yet again, this is the promise God spoke through his prophet Isaiah, “God gives power to those who are tired and worn out and He offers strength to the weak. Those who wait on the Lord will find new strength.”

The first thing that I notice about this promise is God offers me a new strength. It is not an old strength that just gets a little stronger. It is a supernatural strength.

But the hard part is how we get it. We get it by waiting. “Wait on the Lord.”

Human beings are not very good waiters! We hate to wait at airports, on freeways, in supermarkets, in relationships. We want everything right now!

Jesus said simply, “Come to me.” No other qualifications.

Secondly he says, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

What is a yoke? I grew up in the city, so for years I kind of missed this metaphor.

For those of us who did not grow up on farms. A yoke is a wooden beam that attaches two farm animals together to lighten the load so they can work together as a team.

Why does Jesus use this symbol? Well, one reason is because a yoke was a symbol of sharing the load.  King David wrote, “Pile your troubles on God’s shoulders. He’ll carry your load and He’ll help you out.”

But I think more importantly, a yoke is a symbol of sharing a common goal.

When we yoke up with Jesus’ purpose to heal broken hearts, feed the hungry, bring justice to the abused, love those who have been judged and offer hope for those who have given up, we will discover a pace of life that is energizing and sustainable.

“Come to me” and “yoke up with me”. Two simple antidotes to soul fatigue.

“Because God has made us for Himself, our hearts are restless until they rest in Him.”
― Augustine of Hippo

Songs That Make the Whole World Sing

Graphic of a digital sound on black bottom

Songs have a way of marking the seasons of our lives.

From cheesy love songs during our teenage years to one hit wonders that we can’t get our of our minds to songs of healing and hope during tough times to songs that challenge us to live more courageously, music is a powerful source of motivation, entertainment and influence in our lives.

These are some of the “Worst” and “Best” lyrics that have motivated, entertained and influenced me.

Best “Picture of Heaven” lyrics

Earth Wind & Fire “Wonderland”

Come on in and enter as a child
Always wear a smile
Love and laughter here all the while
The flag of salvation waves around
Freedom here abounds
The joy in the sound
Calls my name – on this day

Leave behind your shame and your disgrace
Here they have no place
You will wear the garment of His grace
The rising sun will never set again
Sorrows at its end
And every word that spoken shouts amen
Take me there

Best “Challenge to Live Life at its Fullest” lyrics

OneRepublic “I Lived”

Hope when you take that jump
You don’t fear the fall
Hope when the water rises
You build a wall

Hope when the crowd screams out
They’re screaming your name
Hope if everybody runs
You choose to stay

Hope that you fall in love
And it hurts so bad
The only way you can know
Is give it all you have

And I hope that you don’t suffer
But take the pain
Hope when the moment comes
You’ll say…

I, I did it all
I, I did it all
I owned every second
That this world could give
I saw so many places
The things that I did
Yeah, with every broken bone
I swear I lived

Best “Sarcasm About Religion” lyrics

Eagles “Frail Grasp on the Big Picture

And we pray to our Lord
Who we know is American
He reigns from on high
He speaks to us through middle men
And he shepherds his flock
We sing out and we praise His name
He supports us in war
He presides over football games
And the right will prevail
All our troubles shall be resolved
We have faith above all
Unless there’s money or sex involved

Frail grasp on the big picture
Nobody’s calling them for roughing up the kicker
It’s a frail grasp on the big picture
Heaven help us

Frail grasp on the big picture
All waiting for that miracle elixir

Best “Honoring Of Fallen Heroes” lyrics

Bruce Springsteen “Into The Fire” Tribute to 911

The sky was falling and streaked with blood
I heard you calling me then you disappeared into the dust
Up the stairs, into the fire
Up the stairs, into the fire
I need your kiss, but love and duty called you someplace higher
Somewhere up the stairs into the fire

May your strength give us strength
May your faith give us faith
May your hope give us hope
May your love give us love

You gave your love to see in fields of red and autumn brown
You gave your love to me and lay your young body down
Up the stairs, into the fire
Up the stairs, into the fire
I need you near but love and duty called you someplace higher
Somewhere up the stairs into the fire

May your strength give us strength
May your faith give us faith
May your hope give us hope
May your love give us love

May your strength give us strength
May your faith give us faith
May your hope give us hope
May your love give us love

Worst “Love Song That’s Really About Stalking” lyrics

The Police “Every Breath You Take”

Every breath you take
Every move you make
Every bond you break
Every step you take
I’ll be watching you

Every single day
Every word you say
Every game you play
Every night you stay
I’ll be watching you

(Very creepy!)

Best “Promise Of God’s Healing” lyrics

The Reel “Come Back Home”

It’s hard to come back home
when you’ve never really had one
never really had one

Is that why you
keep running from love?
You never really felt it
cause it never really lasted

The very hands that held you
Only let you fall
But…

Love is reaching out
with His arms now
strong enough to hold your pain
His hands won’t let you go
no, your not alone
He won’t ever walk away
His voice is calling out
with a love you’ve never known
“Come back home”

Best “I Was Born To Give You My Entire Life” lyrics

U2 “Magnificent”

I was born
I was born to sing for you
I didn’t have a choice but to lift you up
And sing whatever song you wanted me to
I give you back my voice
From the womb my first cry, it was a joyful noise …

Only love, only love can leave such a mark
But only love, only love can heal such a scar
But only love, only love unites our hearts

Justified till we die, you and I will magnify
The Magnificent
Magnificent

Worst “Pick-Up Line” lyrics

NSYNC “God Must Have Spent A Little More Time On You”

Your love is like a river
Peaceful and deep
Your soul is like a secret
That I never could keep
When I look into your eyes
I know that it’s true
God must have spent…
A little more time
On you…
(A little more time, yes he did baby)

Best “Lifting Children out of Poverty” lyrics

Audio Adrenaline “Kings & Queens”

Little hands, shoeless feet, lonely eyes looking back at me
Will we leave behind the innocent too brief
On their own, on the run when their lives have only begun
These could be our daughters and our sons
And just like a drum I can hear their hearts beating
I know my God won’t let them be defeated
Every child has a dream to belong and be loved

[Chorus:]
Boys become kings, girls will be queens
Wrapped in Your majesty
When we love, when we love the least of these
Then they will be brave and free
Shout your name in victory
When we love when we love the least of these
When we love the least of these

I would love to hear some of the “best” and “worst” lyrics that have influenced your life.

TOP 10 THOUGHTS BOUNCING AROUND IN MY HEAD THIS WEEK (nearly unedited)

ten

And not in any particular order:

10. To acquiesce to evil is the same as perpetrating it.

It’s easy to preach about it, talk about it, know about it and even agree on it, but we are asked to put our life on the line for it. For sake of heaven and hell.

As Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

I’m tired of talking about it.

9. Feeling good does not nearly feel as good as doing good.

As we live on the shallow surface of feelings, true joy waits for those who mend hearts that have been broken and give hope to lives that have been forsaken.

Christians need to quit living their faith off of  feelings.

8. Narcissism 1) excessive interest in self & physical appearance 2) extreme selfishness w/grandiose view of own talents & craving for admiration

Narcissism: hmmmm….this might be our problem.

People who are narcissistic are really insecure. And people who are insecure are narcissistic. I don’t know which one comes first. I have been both.

7. Acronym for victim is witness. When we witness: to see, hear or know by personal presence & perception, then we have no time to be a victim.

Steve Maraboli shares this thought in a very subtle way, “Your complaints, your drama, your victim mentality, your whining, your blaming, and all of your excuses have NEVER gotten you even a single step closer to your goals or dreams. Let go of your nonsense. Let go of the delusion that you DESERVE better and go EARN it! Today is a new day!”

I think he was talking to me.

6. Find young people who want to change the world, spend time with them, mentor them, challenge them, dare them to be great and lead by example.

This new generation is looking for our validation, but they are also looking for a dare and at our actions. They need truth and a dare, a dare to change the world.

Quit looking on the surface of their lives and know that there is a thirst in their soul that can only be quenched by brave, selfless living.

5. Most are paralyzed by the moment. Visionary leaders liberate people to a better future.

Visionary leaders see the past as something to learn from but not to get stuck in.

Visionary leaders see the problems around them  as opportunities to make progressive change and not to get depressed from them.

Visionary leaders see the uncertainty of the future as glorious and hopeful and not immobilized by fear.

Martin Luther King Jr. was being a visionary leader when he said, “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.”

I’m tired of people pointing out the problems. It doesn’t take a genius to know we have problems. Someone point out the solutions and I will follow you!

4. One life, one opportunity, one change, one legacy, may we love mercy, walk humbly & act justly.

When it comes down to it life is pretty simple, so why do I complicate it? I am easily distracted.

3. Keeping your eye on the prize will not always make you popular, but it will bring you respect. None of us are called to be popular.

There is nothing worse than hanging around someone whose number one goal is to be liked.

Scott Boyle explains the difference between popularity and respect: “The simple difference between popularity and respect is that popularity is a state while respect is a trait.”

The state of popularity is fleeting and fragile.
The trait of respect is earned and durable.

2. Stay focused on your vision today. Many people will try to sidetrack you from the passion and purpose that you have been divinely given.

To do something great, to accomplish your divine mission will definitely not be easy, but God never promised easy.

Winston Churchill challenges me with these words, “It is not enough that we do our best; sometimes we must do what is required.”

You may be discouraged, not seeing things working out like you want them to but remember the words of Francis Bacon, “A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds.”

1. Justice is practical, relentless, courageous. It’s not easy and it doesn’t always feel good but it puts you in the center of God’s heart.

It has been said that, “From ancient times the God of the Bible stood out from the gods of all other religions as a God on the side of the powerless.”

These are just a few thoughts bouncing around in my head, and they are edited, trust me.

From Charity to Justice

BurkinaFaso2009 725

St. Francis once said, “There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up. For it is in giving that we receive.”

Being involved in charity, which is not a bad thing, means to give to a person or an organization who will be doing the reaching down and the lifting up of people.

They are what you would call, a middleman, buffering you from the actual experience of reaching and lifting.

Charity allows you to help someone or a group of people without having to experience the pain or discomfort or inconvenience of what they are going through. Charity protects you.

But charity also robs you. It robs you of depth, purpose and the joy that can only come from reaching down and lifting up the people that your charity has actually protected you from. Charity can actually distance you from God.

Did I say that charity is not bad? I think I did. And it’s true. We need charity. We need generosity. We need to give to causes that we cannot personally be involved with.

Organizations that are on the front lines of war, disease, hunger and extreme poverty need our charity.

Yet…ultimately, God is not a God of charity but a God of justice. And because God is a God of justice, then so must we.

Justice is about a young girl in Africa having the same rights and opportunities as a young girl in the United States.

Justice is about a mother in Guatemala having the same access to medical care as a mother in the U.K.

Justice is about an inner city student being given the same quality education as an upper class suburban student. Bill Gates has said that “Until we’re educating every kid in a fantastic way, until every inner city is cleaned up, there is no shortage of things to do.”

Justice is about a foster child in America receiving a family support system that will propel them towards a sustainable future.

Justice is about a hungry belly at the bottom of the caste system in India having the same access to food as the bulging bellies of the upper caste system.

Justice is harder than charity.
Justice demands results.
Justice requires skin in the game.
Justice means sometimes eliminating the middleman.
Justice means we have to get our hands dirty, our knees skinned, our ego’s humbled and our comfort shaken.
Justice means we must learn to get along with each other so we can accomplish a greater good.

Justice is harder than charity, but it is exactly in these hard places that we see and experience the heart of God.

Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”

He also said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”, which reminds us that we must be involved in local and global justice.

I am not sure if you will meet God in a worship service and I am not sure you will meet God in a sermon(there are some bad ones out there), but I am sure that you will meet God when you get involved in justice.

Shane Claiborne says “Charity can function to keep the wealthy sane. Tithes, tax-exempt donations, and short-term mission trips, while they accomplish some good, also function as outlets that allow Christians to pay off their consciences while avoiding a revolution of lifestyle. People do their time in a social program or distribute food and clothes through organizations which take their excess. That way, they never actually have to face the poor and give their clothes, their food, their beds. Wealthy Christians never actually have to be with poor people, with Christ in disguise.”

This is counterintuitive to our segregated, protected, “stand at a distance” kind of church life, but we must not just care about the poor, or give to the poor but we must meet, hang out, know, befriend and touch the poor.

Shane Claiborne goes on to say, “But when we get to heaven and are separated into sheep and goats (Matt. 25), I don’t believe Jesus is going to say, “When I was hungry, you gave a check to the United Way and they fed me” or “When I was naked, you donated to the Salvation Army and they clothed me.” Jesus is not seeking distant acts of charity. He is seeking concrete actions: “You fed me, … you visited me, … you welcomed me in, … you clothed me.…” If we are to truly be the church, poverty must become a face we recognize as our own kin.” http://www.thesimpleway.org/resources/content/downward-mobility-in-an-upscale-world-by-shane-claiborne/

When Jesus says feed, shelter, comfort, visit, clothe,  you are doing justice and it can be difficult but that is where you will meet him and you will experience a joy that cannot be taken away.

When the prophet Isaiah says to defend the defenseless and to fight corruption and abuse, you are doing justice and it can be painful, but that is where you meet the God of Justice and your legacy will be as a rebuilder of walls and a restorer of cities, and you’ll experience a sense of fulfillment that you have been  searching for.

When the writer of Proverbs says that when you give to the poor, you are lending to God and he will repay you well, you are doing justice, and it may be cause you to have to change your lifestyle, but you will learn to trust the God who will provide for your every need and you’ll experience a spirit of generosity that will set you free.

God simply asks us to show up, for a grieving mother, a lonely elder, a sick child, a hungry family, a struggling addict, a lost soul, and as we show up, though we can’t solve everyone’s problems, somehow God uses us as agents of healing and miracles happen.

I see it all the time, by just showing up.

A few Saturday mornings ago, 250 people showed up to my church campus at 8am in the morning. All in glow-in-the-dark t-shirts.

What were they doing? Where were they going?

They showed up to love forgotten seniors by fixing abandoned decks and to build liberating wheel-chair ramps.

They showed up to plant 1600 life giving vegetable so that hungry families can eat nutritious food this year.

They showed up to bring dignity where there was too little and hope where there was only despair.

TakinItToTheStreets

250 people.

Saturday morning, 8am.

What were they doing?

They were doing justice.

They were meeting Jesus in disguise.

I challenge people who call themselves Christians to show up.

Show up in your own backyard where orphans are called foster children, to the jungles of Peru where mosquito’s kill children, to the slums of India where young girls are violated, to the famine deserts of Africa where bloated bellies scream for nourishment, to the inner cities of America where young men are growing up fatherless and drug dealing is the career of choice, I challenge you to show up.

For big causes of justice and small causes of justice, show up!

Albert Einstein said, “In matters of justice, there is no difference between large and small problems, for issues concerning the treatment of people are all the same.”

God in a Box

GodinBox

GodinBox2

GodinBox3

Henri Nouwen once said, “We cannot expect God to speak to us in our narrow corridor of thinking. As scripture shows us, He may speak to us through a saint or a sinner. Through a conservative or a liberal. Through a man or a woman – or a young child. Through an old person or a young person. Through an educated or an illiterate person… Through a local person or a foreigner. We have at all times to be ready to listen with an unprejudiced mind and heart.”

I was thinking about my life and how God has spoken to me through so many diverse voices, with differing opinions and backgrounds, yet they have all compelled me closer to the heart of Jesus.

From a liberal sociologist named Tony Campolo, to a conservative preacher named Franklin Graham, my heart has broken for the poor.

From an Irish rock star named Bono, to an agnostic brilliant business man named Bill Gates, my urgency to end extreme poverty has increased.

From an alcoholic priest named Brennan Manning, to a 90 year old saint named Mother Rose, I have been overwhelmed by the gift of Grace.

From an African American, born in the ghetto, named Ricky Bolden, to a 75 year old, rich white man named Doug Coe, I will forever be burdened and invested in the inner city.

From a conservative business man named Jim Copeland to a more liberal mother committed to public health around the world, named Kim Dixon, my life has refocused on the rights of children and women around the world.

From an Albanian Roman Catholic nun named Mother Teresa to a cancer research doctor named Scott Todd, my life is now compelled to show up, look extreme poverty in the face, and defeat it.

I have a very close friend who is gay and whenever I am with him, I leave having a deeper passion to follow Jesus and a more convicted heart to serve the marginalized and forgotten in my community.

The important question for people of faith today is this: Can we see past the surface, the titles, the labels and see the wisdom underneath.

When John the Baptist came to proclaim the coming of the Messiah, he was described as a locus-eating, leather-wearing, adultery-condemning prophet.

When Jesus walked this earth, he was described as a party-going, wine-making, heart-healing, sin-forgiving savior.

John would have been labeled a conservative and Jesus would have been labeled a liberal.

Jesus told the pharisess, “We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.” Instead, you said, “John has a demon and Jesus is a glutton”.

The gospel came looking two different ways, but they could not see it.

WHY? Because the Pharisees had put God in a box.

The strength of FAITH is the diversity of God’s wisdom.

That is why people should travel, so you can see the image and creativity and vastness of God.

The Pharisees are not the only ones who have put God in a box.

I think, in America, we are in that danger today.

In order for our faith to be rich and our hearts to remain soft and pliable, we must continue to be overwhelmed by the vastness of God.

Jesus was not an American, he was not a Californian, he was not a republican or a democrat and he was not a Presbyterian, Methodist, Pentecostal or Baptist.

He was not a member of the NRA, Greenpeace or the local moose lodge.

He did not have a preference of musical worship style, because his worship had to do with spirit and truth.

He was anti-war, anti-revenge, and anti-hate.

He said, “Give to Caesar what is Caesars, and give to God what is God’s!”

He was the creator of the universe and it was his idea to make the stars and the moon and the seas and the mountains.

RED, YELLOW, BROWN, BLACK and WHITE, they are all equally precious in his sight.

Every color, creed and culture is a part of his image.

He loves our enemies and he prays that the terrorist will find salvation like the terrorist Saul who became a champion of Grace.

He loves YOU even when you walk away.

He loves ME even when I choose my own ways.

Jesus is bigger than any of our big ideas and heaven will be a much different place than our middle class, American ideas.

When Peter quotes the Prophet Joel in Acts 2 and says, “All who call on the name of the Lord will be saved.” He meant ALL!

It is Jesus + nothing!

Not Jesus + politics.
Not Jesus + denomination.
Not Jesus + lifestyle.
Not Jesus + American.

Let us allow Jesus to be bigger than any of our big ideas and run towards his radical, counter-intuitive, compassionate Grace.

May we pray the prayer of Pope Francis:
“And so we ask the risen Jesus, who turns death into life, to change hatred into love, vengeance into forgiveness, war into peace.”