Category Archives: grace



Along the same lines . . .  (as my previous post)

A Prayer about the Joy of Being Completely Known and Loved

by Scotty Smith

“Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” John 4:29

Lord Jesus, I wish I could have been present to watch this liberated Samaritan woman recount the tale of her collision with the gospel—her story of meeting you and coming alive to the transforming power of grace (John 4:1-42). Water from Jacob’s well was superseded by the water you alone can give—the living water that alone can slake our death-doling thirst.

You exposed her sequential affairs—her penchant to look to men to satisfy the deepest longings of her soul. Yet instead of ridiculing her, you redeemed her; instead of condemning her, you cherished her; instead of shaming her, you saved her; instead of sending her away empty, you sent her on her way full—full of peace, hope and love.

En route to the nations, you brought the gospel to the dark continent of this broken woman’s heart. I wonder if some of the six men with whom she’d been heard her proclaim, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” Standing vulnerable in the public square of her community, she’d never been so free. The gospel dealt a fatal blow to her need to pose or pretend.

I want more of that freedom, Jesus, much more. Freedom from the approval of men. Freedom from wanting to look better than I am. Freedom from minimizing and marginalizing my present need of you.

Nothing but the gospel can free us for being thoroughly known without fear. Jesus, your love is unlike anything else we can experience in this life. In fact, your love is better than life itself. We adore and praise you this day as the Christ—the Messiah, our Lenten Lord, the heart-knower, our holy lover, our righteousness from God, our only hope of glory!

You know every vain, foolish, and evil thought we’ve ever conceived; every lustful, greedy fantasy in which we engage. Only you hear every grace-robbing, grandstanding, gossipy word we speak. Only you know the broken cisterns of our choices—our idols, the many things to which we turn to find life other than in you. Yet you pursue us, you welcome us, and you love us… and you are changing us.

What a wonderful, merciful Savior you are, Jesus. Life—temporal and eternal, can only be found in you. So very Amen we joyfully pray in your transcendent and transforming name.


window of opportunity


Matthew 8 continues our church’s sermons  in the book of Matthew.

This chapter begins with the healing of the leper …

Our pastor describes this as ‘human desperation colliding with the power and compassion of God.’

We will have times in our lives where our needs will collide with the power and compassion of God.

His power and compassion are always available, but WE are not always acutely aware of our need.

We coast along in life with low-grade suffering until we hit the crisis and cry out for mercy.

Windows of opportunity in our life are spikes of suffering and pain when our need is ‘out there’.

-when we have that opportunity to cry out for help.

but . . . we often don’t, we just coast on.

he challenged us to ‘make the most of our pain’!

‘Don’t waste your struggle, turn to jesus!’

We just finished the Sermon on the Mount and all throughout it, we saw Jesus rebuking the Pharisees … instead of coming to God for mercy, they turned to ‘religion’

-they had the window to turn to God, they didn’t take it!

We believe, that if we just get more ‘religious’ the problems and pain in our life will go away.

-it’s all about the structure, we believe

In windows of suffering, we often turn to things that really don’t help us ..

-what are those things?

-how do they fail?

When we look at these healings in Matthew 8, he is showing us that they are connected to the atonement Jesus made for our sins.

I Peter 2:24

24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

The cross is a picture of human desperation in sin colliding with the compassion and power of God to heal and forgive.

We should, therefore, when we have need, run fast into his arms for healing.

Don’t waste your suffering . . turn to Christ . . God is using your pain right now to draw you to Himself!

another wedding


just over 48 hours after the Royal Wedding, I had the privilege of attending another wedding, live, here in Chicago.  It was loosely a family wedding, the brother of my brother-in-law.

With Jon being a pastor and in college ministry before that, I cannot even begin to count the number of weddings I have attended.  Most weddings share the basic components and are similar in nature.  This particular wedding would have appeared quite ‘standard’ at a glance of the program … the welcome, the giving of the bride, the message, rings, vows, pronouncement, etc.

However, what made this wedding different from any other wedding I have attended in the past is how gospel centered it was.  I confess that I actually took notes into my iphone from the message.  Whether it’s that I am hearing with new ears, or that God just used these words on this day to minister powerfully to me.

The processional was to the hymn, “Thine is the Glory”, bolted out majestically by a professional brass ensemble.

The message began with, ended with and focussed on GRACE.  The pastor defined grace as:  the unexpected and wildly undeserved favor of God when we least expect it and need it most.  What a beautiful definition and picture.  The passages were Genesis 2:18-24 and Ephesians 5:22-33.  He talked of marriage as an orchestra re-enacting God’s grace.  Marriage shows two people who are weak and needy, yet strong and vibrant because of and through the work on the cross.  Beautiful.    As I understand the gospel more fully, how I am accepted in Jesus, the grace God has shown me, I’m more compelled to show that same grace and acceptance to my spouse.

Then, the groom wrote a hymn which was sung by the guests.

Holy Father

Holy Father we come before you; we offer you our praise.

At your throne, take us and renew us, this is our anthem raised.

You are might strong to triump! We are free from Satan’s hold.

In our weakness You find us, revive us, make us bold!

Holy Father we come before You we offer up our praise.

At Your throne, take us and renew us, this is our anthem raised.

Precious Jesus I give my all to You.  Your mercy rescued me.

Take my heart, make me whole, and help me to surrender all my being.

Born to suffer, born to save me, born a child and yet a king!

I will love you forever and lift my voice to sing:

“Halelujah Oh what a Savior, His beauty rests on me!”

Full of grace, Jesus life my weary eyes and give me victory!

As we run may You go before us, stay near to us we pray.

Hold our hands, guide our feet and keep us strong along the narrow way.

Giv’n to stray Lord, hold us closer.

Giv’n to stray Lord, we resign to Your blessings unending and boundless love divine!

Lead us on through these worldly races Lord, keep us in the stride.

In Your strength we will show our paces, Your emblem be our guide!

-Stephen Lynderd

I was truly blessed to be there.



Currently, at our church, we are going through the Sermon on the Mount … this past Sunday in Matthew 7:1-6. I unfortunately missed a great message on judging others. (while hanging out with babies in the nursery).

Here is a copy of the prayer our pastor used to conclude the sermon … very powerful!

You can listen to the sermon here… which I plan to do as well.

“I confess this judgment, condemnation, self righteousness, and bitterness towards ________ as sin.  I confess that I don’t have the right or ability to judge ______.  I ask Your forgiveness for this judgment, condemnation, self-righteousness, and bitterness.  I renounce this judgment, condemnation, self righteousness, and bitterness.  I am willing to forgive and release ______’s sins against me.  I acknowledge that I cannot change my own heart and mind.  I ask You to give me true repentance – I ask you to give me Your heart, Your mind, Your truth, and your compassion, humility, and forgiveness towards ______ regarding ______.  Lord, I cannot free myself, but I am willing to be freed.  I cooperate with Your desire to free me by consenting to Your work in my heart.” Amen.

Prayer by Karl Lehman

Scripture Memory #7


I’m a day late with this, but April 1st we posted our seventh scripture memory verse for 2011.  I have been so blessed by the passages I’ve memorized so far . . . it has been so powerful to recite God’s Truth to myself when I would rather listen to myself and lies I’m tempted to believe over His Truth!


In studying Isaiah and looking towards Easter, I had to choose this week’s verse from Isaiah 53.

Isaiah 53:6

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:6 ESV)

I know the consequences of turning to my own way . . . I’m also amazed and blessed to know the love and grace shown to me on the cross.






We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

‘Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
And we cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
All the while, You hear each desperate plea
But long that we’d have the faith to believe

‘Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
And what if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know the pain reminds this heart
That this is not, this is not our home

‘Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
And what if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise


Hope for Your Dark Night of the Soul


a great article from Justin Taylor’s blog today . . .

Hope for Your Dark Night of the Soul.


” . . . That was the beginning of the way out. And I remember saying to myself literally hundreds of times—every time these feelings of hopelessness and panic and a desire to ball up in a fetal position would come on me—“I feel completely hopeless because I am hopeless, but Jesus Christ died for hopeless people, and I’m one of them.”

Over time I began to believe that. And today when I tell people that Jesus is a great Savior, I believe it, because I know that he saved me. That’s where my joy comes from. My joy comes from knowing that at the very bottom, at the very pit of who I am, it is blackness and sin, but the love and grace of Jesus goes deeper.”