When Righteousness Doesn’t Matter

My experience of salvation is this: I thought I was good and deserved Heaven. Then I found out I wasn’t and deserved Hell. My good works and good heritage didn’t matter. I spent a good deal of time living my life under the expectation that I had been given something great because of who I was. I was born into a Christian family. I said the sinner’s prayer at an early age. And I always went to church and participated in all the good activities. I thought my goal in life was to “not screw it up.” I thought my righteousness mattered. Continue Reading...

God Loves Bad People

Every religion emphasizes that God loves good people. Jesus proclaimed something much more radical: God loves bad people. – Philip Yancey How bad does someone need to be before we feel the burning to desire to call on the hammer of justice? The extremes are easy: genocidal maniacs who torture and rape children would definitely make the list of bad people who deserve to burn in hell; someone who blurred the truth about something trivial usually makes our list of people who just need God’s grace. But where’s the line between the two? If you feel like I’m baiting you into a trick question, you’re right. You might say, “There is no line; it all depends on the person.” Or better yet, you might even say, “Every person, no matter how bad, needs God’s grace and salvation.” And I think that’s the right answer. But I want to turn this back in on ourselves, on our own hearts. After all, if we can’t experience the grace God has shown us, how will we ever show that grace to others? Continue Reading...

What Should I Do When God’s Grace Isn’t Enough?

There have been several points in my life when God’s grace wasn’t enough for me. It wasn’t because God wasn’t willing or gracious. It was because I didn’t allow it to be enough. The most recent point was last week. As a teenager I was addicted to pornography and it stayed with me into the first part of my marriage no matter how much I hated it and tried to kill it. Finally, God gave me victory. With the Spirit’s help and the help of my wife and close friends, I remain free to this day. But the memory of my failure haunted me. Actually “haunted” may be a bit light. The memory oppressed and attacked me. The shame was nearly unbearable. Though I had forgiveness and victory, by accepting these thoughts, I was saying, “You grace isn’t enough to take away my shame.” Continue Reading...

Should I Forgive the Inexcusable?

God’s grace astounds me. Here’s what I know: 1. I did nothing to earn God’s favor either by my performance or my existence (Romans 3:23). 2. God, in spite of my rebellion and sin, made the first move to end the hostility I began (Romans 5:8-10). 3. God has now forgiven my sins (past, present, and future) because I admitted I sinned and asked him for forgiveness (1 John 1:8-9). 4. Now the only thing he requires is that I in turn forgive others. Continue Reading...