Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Amazing Grace’

 

I went to greet the new family

         As they strode from the parking lot

                    You could tell they were nervous though they tried to hide it

                                 Smiling more often than not.

 

 They had called in advance

And I drew the straw

 So now here I stood

 Extending my paw.

 

                                                                        

                                                                            Here is our doctrine

                                                                                I began as we walked

                                                                             As I expertly spewed out

                                                                    It was then that they balked.

 

                                                  I was sure they were trouble

                                   By the expression on his face

               For a moment I wished

     I was packing my mace.

 

 The man said hold on,

                  And he stopped in mid stride

                                 Then he turned towards me in the aisle

                                              and dropped the hand of his bride.

 

                                                             Looking me in the eyes

                                                                      He stood still in place

                                                                         Then he said “your doctrine neglected                              

 

to mention  The concept of  Grace”.

 

                                                                  You see, without Jesus blood

                                                                  We don’t stand a chance

                                              Doctrines more works based guides

                                            Our church egos to enhance.

 

                                        We’ve never been able

                                       To work ourselves in

                                     Salvation from Grace

                                     Our rescue from sin

 

                                Our doctrine is what

                 Keeps us safe from the rest

                        I said as I stood boldly

                      Standing up to the test

This doctrine is important, our ways keep us safe

After all what would God want?

The stranger looked back at me, what would God want, he asked?

What would God want?

Well, let’s see.

He created Adam,

               He loved Adam,

                                 He created Eve,

                                               They both betrayed Him,

                                                                   He didn’t kill them,

                                                                                             He loved his people all along,

                                                                                                               Wanted obedience,                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                                                                                       And thought that maybe a do-over would work, so he flooded the earth and started over again with the best, most perfect people he had, Noah and family.

 

                               Guess what, we still were messed up, we still failed.

 

So God gets tired of waiting on us to figure it out, and decides to give us a break, cut us some slack. God decides to give us a golden ticket to Heaven. And what do we want to do, we want to act like it isn’t a golden ticket, like it is a general admission ticket that was bought and paid for with our own hard earned money. That is what we are saying to God when we forget to tell people about Grace, because when we forget to tell people about Grace, we are forgetting to tell people about Jesus, Gods Son, and that means we are not grateful for the blood His Son shed for our sins. Doctrine is important, it is important to know what you believe, and to know why, but doctrine without Grace is as worthless as Christianity without Christ.

 

I looked at the at the man as he removed his hand from my shoulder and I felt suddenly different, like Christianity without Christ I thought. Wow, who would ever say such a thing, much less even think such a thing.

Traditions and doctrine

                Had become more our creed

                                        Than the wonderful Grace

                                                            From which hell we’ve been freed

 

 

 My children had been raised

 

     More Mosaical than we knew

 

             Not remembering the first church

 

                        The first church in Acts two

 

 

    

   I walked door to door

              

                  And locked up the place

                         

                             As I said a silent prayer of thanks

                                          

                                               For the gift of Grace                                                                                   God Bless-JFT

                                                                                                                                                                                                Fiction

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Definition of beliefs, this has been on my mind a lot lately. As I sit at my cluttered desk, across from my wife, sitting at her not as cluttered desk, I think about my blog. I began my blog a couple of years ago, inspired to write about God. I never thought about even the remotest of possibilities that I would eventually post over two hundred and sixty articles, as I call them. How could I even come up with the material, certainly not without divine intervention, but divine intervention “would” in fact come, and the posts would be written.

Recently, I had a comment from a reader that caused me to really stop and think about “why” I write what I do. My blog, “thoughts on being a Christ follower” is meant to be an encouragement to others, to be uplifting to those who follow Christ already. It is also meant to be thought provoking to those who are investigating Christ as a Savior, and is meant to plant a seed to those who do not know Christ at all, a seed planted in love. God has been so good to me in my life, teaching in love through experiences I have been placed in. So again I ask why, why do I write this Blog?

As a child, raised up in “the Church” as I knew it, we were known as non-denominational, because that implies that there was no headquarters from which all of the franchise congregations were run. I never really knew what non-denominational was, because it was one of those things that the adults “assumed” we knew. Truth was, they probably didn’t know what it meant either. It was assumed that you would get baptized between the ages of ten and twelve, if you were early; they doubted you truly knew what you were doing. If you were late, they began to worry that you were going to go the other way. So, I chose to be baptized at the age of ten, coincidentally on the evening following the baptism of two of my good friends, no peer pressure though 😉 . I just kind of felt it was the thing to do, you know.

After I was baptized, I really did feel white as snow as I rose from those waters, and I did know I loved God. I then began the life of being a pre-teen Christian. Here was the drill, after you became a Christian (baptism), you were then expected to tow the line, and walk sinless. In doing so, sometimes you would occasionally stumble, leading to a collection of sins that would begin to mar your soul. Even one sin on your soul makes you unfit for Heaven, or so we were told, so upon stumbling you would then be lost again. I used to see it like this, a sin was a black dot on my soul, as time would go by; I would begin to look like a Dalmatian. When I just couldn’t live with myself anymore, I would need to go to plan “B”, which would involve taking a walk at the alter call. Every service, twice on Sunday and once on Wednesday, the preacher would give an alter call, anyone who wanted to be baptized, or needed the prayers of the church would head for the front pew during the singing of the invitation hymn. As a preteen boy, then as a teen, I spent a lot of time on that front pew, having the congregation pray for my “restoration”. It was so self-defeating, saved on Sunday, lost from Monday on.

Conscious of how often I would make the trek to the front, I began to think “what’s the point”, I am a bad person. I obviously have no self-control I would think because I spend the vast majority of my time standing on the trapdoor to hell. You can’t go up front every week, if I was there as often as I needed to be I would be getting my mail there. So I began to be comfortable with being lost most of the time, and I would actually wish that I would die directly after going forward one day, I mean, if it didn’t happen that way, what were the odds of winding up in Heaven?

From where I stand now, it would be easy to look back at those folks and be angry with them for forgetting to mention the gift of Grace. But in truth, I think they were just the same as many other generations of religious before them, they thought they were doing what was right, they were holding to tradition. I am grateful to God that I was able to break from tradition and ask those hard questions, and that I turned back to the only place where “all” of the answers lie, The Bible. The problem with holding to tradition is that tradition makes us lazy, when we just keep doing what we’ve always done, then we stop thinking about what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, and God gets lost in our repetition. As followers of Christ, we don’t have the option of becoming lazy where God’s word is concerned, and we do have an obligation to make sure that what we tell others is true and accurate. There is only one way we can do that, and that is by studying God’s Word. Our relationship to God is a personal one, it is a One on one thing with God. Being misled because you chose to let someone else put their own spin on God’s Word without knowing it yourself is not acceptable, we must know what we believe, and we must know why we believe it. We will also be held to a higher level of accountability by God when we share our faith with others, this is an “incentive” for us to make sure that what we tell them is accurate and correct.

I know what it is like to walk around without hope, I know what it is like to feel dirty and worthless. I know what it is like to “know” that you are going to hell no matter how hard you try to be good, and that on our best day, we still aren’t good enough to “earn” Heaven. I fail to understand how the wonderful message of Christ and His sacrifice for us can be missed when we all read the same Bible, but somehow it does. And that is why I write this blog, because I want to do everything I can to tell people the good news, that you don’t have to walk around in hopelessness as I did. That you don’t go in and out of salvation daily and that God knows what we face, and that is why He gave us the gift of His Son, because He knows it is not possible for us to tow the line. We needed help, we needed a “get out of hell free card”, and that card is crimson, that card is Jesus blood. I want people to know that “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that we might have the gift of eternal life”. He loves us that much!

So that is why I write what I do, because I want you to know what I know, that God loves us. The decision to follow Christ is a decision that only “you” can make, but I hope if you have read my blog that it will encourage you in that direction, to make that decision. While I sometimes write short fiction stories, make no mistake, they are not written to entertain you, they were written with the purpose of causing you to think, ask questions, and seek answers. I love God, and I love you, and I want you to have the opportunity to know the peace inside that God has blessed me with. The word “hope” of salvation has never really done it for me, in my mind failing to capture my true thoughts. “Anticipation” of salvation is more like it, confident in the power of Christ’s sacrifice and God’s promise. Hope has a question mark attached to it, and I have spent too much of my life stumbling around in the gray area already. There are no question marks attached to God’s promise as I know it, so rejoice in the anticipation of our final resting place. Rejoice in knowing that you are bought and paid for, rejoice in knowing where you will spend your eternity, “if” you will only accept Gods gift of His Son.

God Bless-JFT

Read Full Post »

I showed up early in the greeter’s room this past Sunday to have a cup of coffee and visit with my fellow greeters before the ball starts rolling. I poured a hot cup of coffee and sat down with one of my friends at a table. He was telling me about a vacation he had booked for his family this summer that he was excited about. He had gotten it at half price, so he had scored. I noticed that many of the chairs were lined up in the front of the room, Bill must be doing an orientation for new greeters this morning, they had asked for new volunteers last week.

New faces I hadn’t seen before began to filter in and mingle, before finding their way to the front of the room, and being seated for the orientation. It seemed like there were a lot of people who had signed up, which is great, we are always short of people for the greeter corps. Just then, a face I clearly recognized came in the door, a face I would never forget, and a face I had prayed I would never see again. A face named Scott.

Scott was a supervisor at the plant twenty years ago, he was ex-navy and hard core, and for some reason I never discovered, he didn’t like me. Right from the beginning, when I started there, it was clear he did not care for me. He did his best to make my life miserable, he gave me the jobs no-one else wanted, he would slam me on my reviews every year and had even tried to get me fired without success. He would also never pass up the chance to confront me in front of others. This guy was what I referred to back then as a “Flaming Jerk”.

I know the old story about a boss who is really hard on an employee, because he likes him and expects more. This was not one of those cases, this guy didn’t like me, and there was no silver lining. One time I told a co-worker that I had purchased a three-day Disneyland package, and we would spend the rest of the week in a hotel by the beach. My girls were so excited, they were still small and really looked forward to it. Scott waited until two weeks before my vacation and then cancelled it, saying that they didn’t have the coverage, and he actually smiled slightly as he delivered the news. He was the Bain of my existence for the first seven years I was at the plant. I had been rid of the vermin for thirteen years, and now he shows up here, at my church home, but not only at my church home, but the greeter corps to boot. Was there no justice in this life?

After the orientation, the greeters who have been doing it for a while are expected to stand in a receiving line and welcome our new brothers. I reluctantly stood in line, shaking hands of our newest volunteers. As Scott approached, He looked at me then did a double take, and that old grin crept back on his face. He stuck his hand out and I did my best to make my hand feel like a cold dead fish as he shook it. He then looked me in the eyes with a serious look, and said “Jim, I realize we have a lot of history, and I wasn’t always good to you. I hope you will give me a chance to make it right. I feigned a smile and said “Sure, no problem”. He smiled again, nodded and walked to the next one in line. Another chance huh, sure how about “Fat Chance” I thought as he walked on. I tried to get my mind right so that I could finish greeting the newbies as they continued to come.

Jim, how are you the next one said as I looked toward the calling of my name. Fine, how are you I asked as I shook the hand of a guy about my age, I had “no clue” who he was. Jeremy, from high school, do you remember me he asked? He stood there smiling broadly, and then it came back to me. Jeremy was a kid in my class; he always tried to hang out with my friends and I, but he didn’t fit in. I had a group I ran with, guys who were my bud’s, but Jeremy was kind of a goof ball. He wasn’t really cool, and was kind of a cling on guy, if you know what I mean. He kept at us, wanting to do things with us, be one of our crowd. We used to like to go “cruising” on Friday and Saturday nights to socialize and meet girls, and he asked if he could come with us. We reluctantly said yes, and let him tag along. About eleven PM, he asked if we could stop at a place with a bathroom, because he had to go. We found a fast food joint, and let him out. One of the guys thought it would be funny to just leave him there and go on. I didn’t like the idea, I thought it was too mean, but it wasn’t my car so I didn’t say anything. We left poor Jeremy at a fast food restaurant in a not so good side of town at eleven PM by himself. I have thought about that over the years and felt bad. All of these memories flooded back as I shook his hand. I then looked him in the eyes and said, “I have felt really bad about that night we went cruising over the years, it was so wrong. I hope you will give me a chance to make it right. He looked at me warmly and said “think nothing of it, we were just kids, not only forgiven, but forgotten. As he walked off, I realized I was his “flaming Jerk”. I was thankful to accept the grace he extended to me, yet reluctant to extend the same grace to Scott.

As I drove home after services, I realized I was a hypocrite, I wanted to judge people when it suited me, but I didn’t want to be judged with the same yardstick by which I was so eager to judge others when it was my turn in the barrel.

Luke 6:37 NIV

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

God Bless

JFT

This story is fiction, written to illustrate a point.

Read Full Post »