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Posts tagged ‘Grace’

Is a New Grace Reformation Taking Place Today?.


Michael Brown
Michael Brown

Is there a new reformation sweeping the Church today, a reformation as radical and important as the Protestant Reformation that rocked the world 500 years ago? According to a growing number of Christian leaders, the answer is emphatically yes.

Pastor Clark Whitten, author of Pure Grace: The Life Changing Power of Uncontaminated  Grace, claims that, “Little has changed in the Protestant church in more than 500 years” – until now, that is. He believes that Luther and Calvin “got it right concerning justification, or how one is saved. . . . But they missed it on sanctification, or how one is perfected into the likeness of Christ.”

Whitten states that Luther and Calvin, followed by the Protestant Church ever since, taught a doctrine of “saved by grace but perfected by human effort,” an approach that has produced “a Church that is judgmental, angry, hopeless, helpless, dependent, fearful, uninspired, ineffective, and perpetually spiritually immature.”

Because of this, Whitten claims, we have failed to impact our culture and have become a laughingstock to most “casual observers.” And Pastor Whitten contends that this doctrine has also brought, “personal devastation” to countless believers who have consequently checked out on Church (or on God Himself).

John Crowder, in his book Mystical Union, claims that, “Just as there is a new mysticism on the rise, I believe it is coupled with a new reformation. The good news will be preached with such clarity that, even the days of Luther will seem utterly primitive in its concepts of grace and faith.”

Indeed, Crowder writes that “a clarity is coming to the preaching of the gospel like has not been heard since the days of the Apostle Paul.”

Other modern grace teachers share similar sentiments. In his book GRACE, the Forbidden Gospel, Andre van der Merwe writes, “Once again in the church there is a struggle for a theological reformation that will liberate believers to break free from the yoke of bondage that has been put on the children of God by people who may have had good intentions, but that have only taught the religious doctrines and traditions that they themselves have been taught.”

His prayer is that his book will “destroy the religious arguments and doctrines of demons forever,” referring to whatever teaching contradicts this allegedly new revelation of grace. That’s why the full title of his book is GRACE, the Forbidden Gospel: Jesus Tore the Veil. Religion Sewed it Back Up, and that’s why Pastor Joseph Prince, perhaps the best known modern grace preacher, calls this a “Gospel Revolution.”

Could it be, then, that there really is a grace reformation sweeping the Body today? Could it be that the Church has been so stuck in legalistic religion for the last 500 years that nothing less than a radical reformation can get us out of the rut?

It seems clear that many believers have been caught up in externally imposed religion (which is the essence of legalism), seeking to please God by following an endless list of “do’s” and “don’t’s,” never being certain of the Father’s love and looking first to their own efforts rather than looking first to the cross. Consequently, they are always falling short and never walking in the abundant life that Jesus has for them.

Within a two-day span, I heard from two women, both friends of our family and former students in our ministry school, both married with children and active in God’s service. One wrote this: “I am one of many who have been changed drastically and fantastically by the ‘grace message.’  Judging by the amazing fruit of it in my life and my family’s life as we have gone through some very hard times, it is the fruit of the true grace message.”

Speaking of one well-known, modern grace teacher, she explained that while she only agreed with about 80% of what he taught, she said that “I feel like I have taken a bath and glimpsed the beauty of Jesus and what he did for me almost every time I hear him.” This is wonderful to hear, and I do not want to tamper with something so sacred and liberating.

The other ministry school grad wrote this: “I can say for me, I sure tried, and worked, and failed. Finally, almost three years ago, I finally had a ‘Grace encounter’ that changed my life. Can honestly say I’m more free, more confident, and more ‘sin-LESS’ than I’ve ever been. If that makes sense.”

This is from the Lord!

Sadly, I have met many believers who have struggled with legalism and performance-based religion, and when I hear today that, through a revelation of God’s grace, they are now living in intimacy with the Lord and overflowing with joy at His great love for them, I am thrilled.

That is truly wonderful news, and it indicates that, for many, there is a need for a fresh infusion of anointed teaching on the beauty and glory and wonder of God’s amazing grace.

At the same time, I constantly hear stories from believers and leaders concerned about the modern grace message, like this one: “I have seen the effects of this message on my own loved ones. It has ruined our family and caused many of them who loved the Lord to stray.”

And this, “We have seen this up close and personal with some of our family members. Very destructive things are going on.”

And this, from a pastor, who spoke of “the three close male friends I have had in the past, all three from the grace side; two were unfaithful and then left their wives and the third just left. I have had no one close in the grace group (forgive my terms) displaying good lasting fruit.”

One young man, who had served together with a well-known hyper-grace leader wrote to me at length, wanting me to understand just how bad things were: “I heard more ‘F’ and ‘S’ words in that movement than anywhere else in my entire life.  After all, you’re ‘legalistic’ if you EVER tell someone to ‘not’ do something.”

Is this simply a matter of the modern grace message being abused?

Honestly, I wish that was the case, since I love the message of grace and it would be a shame if pastors and leaders drew back from preaching grace because it was abused.

But the truth is that the modern grace message is quite mixed, combining life-changing, Jesus-exalting revelation with serious misinterpretation of Scripture, bad theology, divisive and destructive rhetoric, and even fleshly reaction. And, in all too many cases, it is being embraced by believers who are not just looking for freedom from legalism but also freedom from God’s standards.

There is no doubt in my mind, then, that the notion of a “grace reformation” (or “grace revolution”) is highly exaggerated, that some of this new grace teaching is unbalanced, overstated, at times unbiblical, and sometimes downright dangerous – and I mean dangerous to the well-being of the Body of Christ.

In short, I do not believe that we are witnessing a new grace reformation. I believe we are witnessing the rise of a hyper-grace movement, filled with its own brand of legalistic judgmentalism, mixing some life-giving truth from the Word with some destructive error.

And that’s why I wrote Hyper-Grace: Exposing the Dangers of the Modern Grace Message, a book for grace lovers, not grace haters, a book for those who embrace both grace and truth (John 1:14, 17). Does that describe you?

(Excerpted and adapted from Hyper-Grace: Exposing the Dangers of the Modern Grace Message.)

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

Michael Brown is author of Hyper-Grace: Exposing the Dangers of the Modern Grace Message and host of the nationally syndicated talk radio show The Line of Fire on the Salem Radio Network. He is also president of FIRE School of Ministry and director of the Coalition of Conscience. Follow him at AskDrBrown on Facebook or at @drmichaellbrown on Twitter.

The source of peace…


By Pastor Bobby Schuller

“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” 
-Romans 5:1-2

The love of God in you says this: It’s not what you do that makes you important, it’s not what you have that makes you important, and it’s not what people say about you that makes you important. It’s just the simple fact that you’re God’s beloved child. He says, “I love you and I’m well pleased in you. I take pleasure in you. All of this is for you, your brothers, and sisters, whom I love and adore.”

It seems too simple. I know God loves me. Well, I suppose he loves me…if I do this, if I accomplish that, or if I have this. He loves me if I’ve completed enough things on his love list.

But, it’s not like that, my friends. That’s what grace is – the unmerited love, pleasure, and favor of God on you, regardless of what you do, what people say about you, what you have, what you accomplish or don’t accomplish in your life.

Nothing brings peace like God’s grace-filled love in our lives.

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for the love you have for me – unearned favor from you that has nothing to do with my accomplishments or my failures. I have peace through your grace-filled love in my life. Amen.

Devotion: Peace is mentioned in this devotion. What other feeling, thought, or emotion do you experience as you think about God’s love for you?

Praying For Grace to Express His Beauty Through Our Expressions.


Holy Spirit of the Living God, I join my brothers and sisters in one accord, we call upon Thee to teach us to recognize the beautiful bridge that music builds to link the revelations of our Awesome God to us, His people and through Your grace upon our lives, may we show Your beauty through our expressions to Your glory, we ask this through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen, Amen and Amen.

Lord Jesus, we beseech Thee to change us, Great Maker, make us today, tomorrow and for the rest of our days on planet earth to be more like You, transform us into Your glory and use our repentance as the tool to break and remake us to Your glory, we pray in Jesus Name. Amen, Amen and Amen.

Giver Of Guaranteed Freedom, O Lord, we pray Thee to free our spirits to express the songs of Your Spirit, Holy Spirit, help us to communicate the Heart of God to Your people through unfettered expressions in the Spirit, we ask and pray this day in Thy Mighty Name of Jesus. Amen, Amen and Amen.

By The Power in Thy Blood Of Jesus, we overcome the enemies and their devices by the power in Thy Blood of Jesus, by the power in Thy Word of God and by the word of our testimonies that You are Our Lord and Saviour and by the Blood of the lamb, we have been bought into royal priesthood and in to the Heavenly Kingdom and Lord Jesus, we are saved by Your shed Blood on the cross, we pray, receive and comfirm this victory in Thy Mighty Name of Jesus. Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen and Amen.

 

{ Day 333 }.


But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. 1 Corinthians 12:11, NKJV, emphasis added

Being called into some kind of prophetic ministry is not necessarily the reward for how diligent you have been to seek to mature in prophecy. It’s not even determined by how eager you are to grow in wisdom and character. It is a matter of God‘s sovereign call. The same thing is true with regard to each individual manifestation of the Spirit. We serve a personal God who has His own purposes for each individual. God is not an impersonal force. A Tibetan monk may go through exercises and disciplines, thinking these will help him become an ascended master. But the gifts and callings of God are not primarily based on our striving, seeking, or searching, but they are based on His sovereign choice and His grace. It is not a matter of our efforts to attain or develop spiritual skills. It is all about God’s sovereign calling and God’s gracious giftings.

{ PRAYER STARTER }

Father, help me to understand the purpose for the giftings You have given to me. Show me why You have called me to these gifts, and enable me to respond as Your grace gives me strength.

There is a place for diligently seeking to grow in gifting,
character, and maturity. But while diligence causes you
to grow within your calling, it does not
determine your calling.

By MIKE BICKLE.

One Way Love and The Phone Store.


When it comes to the raising of children, one-way love is both the easiest thing in the world and the hardest. How many of us have responded to the experience of becoming a parent for the first time by saying, “I finally understand how powerful and profound of a thing it is that God considers us His children!” The relationship we have with a baby, after all, is about as one-way as it gets. They need and we give, period. They have no illusions about their own power. The very idea that a baby might do something to deserve our love–other than exist–is laughable. It’s no coincidence that Jesus speaks so highly of children; he praises their ability to receive love.

It’s once our kids grow up that understanding the difference between law and grace becomes so difficult—but also so urgent. I’ll give you an example.

My wife and I had a rough year last year with one of our sons. His hardheartedness and willful defiance was not only affecting the rest of the family (sound familiar?), it was breaking our hearts because he was enslaving himself and he didn’t know it. Needless to say, he was not as convinced of the gravity of his misbehavior as Kim and I were. His unrepentant attitude was driving us crazy, so it was decided that he would be put on social lock-down. No car, no phone, no nothing. If he wasn’t at school, he was to be at home. No exceptions. The law had to do its crushing work. He needed to realize the seriousness of what he had been getting involved in. Being the social butterfly that he is, social lock-down was his worst fear, so that was what we chose. To make things even worse, we sold his smartphone.

He wasn’t happy about any of this, and it wasn’t a walk in the park for Kim, me, or the other kids either. It actually made things harder. Without his phone and his friends, he haunted the house like a drug addict going through detox. He couldn’t help out by giving his brother and sister rides, so Kim and I had to go back to serving as chauffeurs.

A month or so after the clampdown had gone into effect, I was traveling back from speaking at a conference. Before I left, I had told my son, in my most earnest, authoritative-father voice, that there was only one thing he needed to do while I was gone and that was to not give his mother a hard time. If he didn’t give her any unnecessary headaches, when I got back, we might revisit the phone issue. Midway through my 48 hour trip, I received a call from Kim, who told me that my request was not, shall we say, being respected. I couldn’t believe it. One thing. 48 hours. He couldn’t do it. I was furious.

I spent the plane ride home battling with God. I mean, really going back and forth with Him about what I should do. I knew I had to deal with the situation as soon as I returned. I was angry with my son for putting me in this situation, and I was tired of dealing with his ingratitude. Clearly my son had not learned his lesson. As far as I was concerned, more law was needed. Yet as I prayed about it, I had this haunting sense that God was telling me it was time to relent. Time to, at least, give the boy his phone back. What? No way, God. Every fiber of my being was resistant to that idea. Not only did the law afford me control over my son (a boy who had proved that he didn’t know how to handle his freedom), he didn’t deserve to get his phone back. The one thing I had asked him to do, he hadn’t done. He’d understood the condition before I left: be good, and you’ll get a phone. Well, he hadn’t been good. So no phone. Very reasonable to me. I was looking for an excuse, any excuse, to keep the handcuffs on. That I was flying back from a conference where I had spoken about one-way love was not lost on me.

Well, I got home, called my son out of his room, and told him we needed to talk. I reminded him of everything I’d said before I left—the conditions under which he would get a phone. He looked at me very sheepishly, knowing he was guilty—again! I talked to him for a while about life and choices and sin and how much we loved him. He listened intently–really listened. In fact, it was the first time he had looked at me in the eyes and really paid attention to what I was telling him. I could tell that what I was saying was finally making sense to him. After we were done talking, we prayed together. First me, then him. When we finished praying, I looked at him and said, “Now go put your shoes on, and let’s go to the phone store and get you a new phone.” He was completely shocked. His lip started to quiver, and he finally burst into tears. In the months since we first caught him doing the stuff that originally got him in trouble, he had shown no remorse, no sorrow. This was the first time I had seen tears. Real tears. I asked him what was wrong. With tears streaming down his face, he looked at me and said, “But, Dad, I don’t deserve a phone.” He was right. He didn’t deserve a phone. He didn’t deserve a pad of paper and a stamp. His words revealed that God knew a lot better how to handle my son than I did. The contrition was genuine. The law had leveled him. It had shown him who he was in a way that left no doubt about his need. It was time for a word of grace.

Notice that his humility did not precede the invitation. The chronology is crucial. His admission was not a condition for mercy; it was its fruit! I looked at him and said, “Listen, son. God takes me to the phone store ten thousand times a day, and I have never ever deserved one…so go get your shoes on and let’s get you a phone.”

It was a happy day.

Now, before you line up to give me the father-of-the-year award, know that the reason I tell the story is because it was such a surprise to me too. My son had come by his rebelliousness honestly, after all. One of the main reasons his behavior bugged me so much was that he reminded me so much of myself when I was his age! I only tell the story for three reasons: One, it illustrates that the law is useful. Grace could not have done it’s curing work if the law had not first done its crushing work. But two, it illustrates how resistant we are to grace. We feel much safer with our hands on the wheel. I was so afraid that he would go nuts, that he would prove himself to be his father’s son once again. It was as hard for me to give up the sense of manageability the law provided as it was for him to lose his phone. It had to be taken from me. And three, the emotional response at being let off the hook was a powerful reminder that only grace can inspire what the law demands. The law was able to accuse him, but only grace could acquit him. The law was able to expose him, but only grace could exonerate him. The law was able to diagnose him, but only grace was able to deliver him.

God showed me one more time that, when it’s all said and done, love (not law) is the essence of any lasting transformation that takes place in human experience.

[Excerpted from One Way Love: Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted World.]

Tullian Tchividjian
William Graham Tullian Tchividjian (pronounced cha-vi-jin) is the Senior Pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Visit his website at www.liberatenet.org. and follow him on Twitter @PastorTullian

How to Strengthen Your Marriage with Grace.


Whitney Hopler

Editor’s Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Tim Kimmel’s new book, Grace-Filled Marriage: The Missing Piece, the Place to Start (Worthy Publishing, 2013).

Grace is a vital part of how God expresses His love to us. But, too often, marriages lack this one key ingredient. Ironically, many spouses are more likely to show grace to people they don’t know well than they are to the husband or wife that God is calling them to love deeply.

Much of what hurts or disappoints you in marriage is caused by an absence of grace. Simply making an effort to extend grace to your spouse can do wonders to strengthen your marriage, transforming it into a union where both you and your spouse can thrive.

Here’s how you can strengthen your marriage with grace:

Understand grace. Grace means desiring the best for your spouse, even when he or she may not deserve it. If you’re really going to love your spouse like God wants you to, you’ll need to follow God’s example of giving grace. Regularly reflect on the incredible grace that God has given to you through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. Then let your gratitude compel you to let God’s love flow through you, empowering you to love others – such as your spouse – gracefully.

Recognize the graceless ways you currently see your spouse, and replace those distorted perspectives with the truth. Ask God to show you how you limit the love you express to your spouse, or tie your love to conditions that your spouse must meet before receiving it. Thank God that He doesn’t withhold His love from you when you don’t measure up His perfect standards. Regardless of how you behave, God loves you completely. Ask God to help you shift your focus from trying to protect yourself in your marriage to doing what’s in the best interest of your spouse. Pray that God’s grace – which saved you – will also transform the way you treat others, especially your spouse. Ask God to teach you how to view your spouse from His perspective.

Don’t fall into the nitpicking trap. Consider the various points of frustration in your marriage – from annoying habits to differing opinions about issues that are matters of personal preference. Then pray about each one specifically, asking God to help you avoid nitpicking your spouse and to empower you to let minor frustrations go so they won’t cause unnecessary stress in your marriage.

Forgive regularly. Obey God’s command to forgive your spouse whenever he or she hurts or offends you, and rely on God’s help throughout the process. Don’t let resentment and bitterness build up in your marriage and block the flow of grace between you. Instead, make a habit of forgiving so God’s grace can flow freely within your marriage.

Give your marriage a secure love. All people are driven by a need to know that we’re secure. Commit to meet this need for your spouse by giving him or her grace. Dedicate yourself to meeting your spouse’s needs whenever you can, regardless of the cost. Accept the unique personality that God has created for your spouse. Encourage and help your spouse do what he or she does best to maximize your spouse’s God-given potential. Take an interest in things that are important your spouse, and celebrate victories and mourn defeats with him or her. Show your spouse consistent affection (such as through hugs, kisses, and love notes). Make yourself consistently available for sex with your spouse, ready to express unconditional love freely together.

Give your marriage a significant purpose. The need to know that we’re significant (that we have intrinsic worth and value) drives everyone in life. Help meet your spouse’s need for significance by encouraging him or her to join you in seeking ways you can serve together to build God’s kingdom on Earth – from volunteering at your church or in your neighborhood, to donating regularly to a charity or ministry that works for a cause you both support. Ask God to help you bring out the best in your spouse as you work to contribute to the world together. Affirm your spouse, give your spouse your attention as often as possible, and hold your spouse accountable to living faithfully.

Give your marriage a strong hope. We’re all driven by a need to know we have the strength required to face whatever life brings our way. That strength comes from our confidence in Jesus’ power to lead, sustain, and protect us in any situation. When you make a daily habit of placing your trust in Jesus and encouraging your spouse to do the same, you invite Him to pour strength into your marriage. Encourage your spouse to use his or her God-given abilities to achieve great accomplishments, and to pursue a life of adventure with you.

Find the freedom to be different and vulnerable. As an agent of God’s grace in your spouse’s life, you can help both of you enjoy the freedom that comes from using your differences to complement each other and communicating openly and honestly in your marriage.

Find the freedom to be candid and make mistakes. When you extend grace to your spouse, you both then become free to candidly communicate deep thoughts and feelings to each other, and to process the foolish choices each of you make so you both can learn and grow.

Motivate each other to build character muscles that will make your marriage stronger. Giving grace to each other naturally motivates you and your spouse to want to grow into stronger people – and when that happens, your marriage will become stronger. A grace-filled marriage makes it easier for you both to pursue character that is distinguished by faith, integrity, poise, discipline, endurance, and courage.

Enjoy how grace strengthens each of your hearts. Once grace begins flowing freely between you and your spouse, God will use it to give you both hearts that are humble, grateful, generous, and willing to serve – all qualities that can keep your marriage strong.

Adapted from Grace-Filled Marriage: The Missing Piece, the Place to Start, copyright 2013 by Dr. Tim Kimmel with Darcy Kimmel. Published by Worthy Publishing Group, Brentwood, Tn.,www.worthypublishing.com.

Tim Kimmel is one of America’s top advocates speaking for the family. He is the executive director of Family Matters, whose goal is to build great relationships by educating, equipping and encouraging families for every age and stage of life. Tim conducts conferences across the United States on the unique pressures that confront today’s families. In addition to conducting Family Matters’ conferences and keynote speaking, Tim and his wife, Darcy, are speakers for FamilyLife Ministry’s Weekend to Remember conference. Tim has authored many books, including: Little House on the Freeway (featured in the Billy Graham crusades), Grace Based Parenting (a Gold Medallion award winner), Raising Kids for True Greatness50 Ways to Really Love Your KidsRaising Kids Who Turn Out RightWhy Christian Kids RebelThe High Cost of High Control, and Basic Training for A Few Good Men. He has also developed several video studies, including “The Hurried Family,” “Basic Training for a Few Good Men,” “Raising Kids Who Turn Out Right” and “Grandparenthood: More Than Rocking Chairs.” Tim and Darcy have four children, one son-in-law, and two grandchildren. They reside with their family in Scottsdale, Arizona. Visit his website at: familymatters.net.

Whitney Hopler, who has served as a Crosswalk.com contributing writer for many years, is author of the new Christian novel Dream Factory, which is set during Hollywood’s golden age. Visit her website at: whitneyhopler.naiwe.com.

Publication date: October 23, 2013

Ron Phillips: The Cost of Grace.


a raging river

The movie A River Runs Through It is narrated by Norman, one of the main characters. He makes this statement about his father, a minister:

“My father was very sure about certain matters pertaining to the universe. To him, all good things – trout as well as eternal salvation – came by grace; and grace comes by art; and art does not come easy.”

While we rightly view grace as a free gift, grace always costs someone something.

As Norman said, grace comes by art, but art costs the artist years of practice and preparation.

Grace releases an indebted person from their debt, but costs the lender the debt forgiven.

Grace sets us free from sin and death, but cost Jesus the pain, humiliation, and death of the Cross.

The grace God offers cost us nothing, but cost Jesus everything.

But, He did it all because He wants to spend eternity with you.

THAT is a priceless grace worth sharing.

Written by Ron Phillips

Ron Phillips is senior pastor of Abba’s House in Chattanooga, Tenn. His weekly television and daily radio programs are broadcast worldwide and available on the Internet. He is a sought-after speaker and the author of numerous books, including the four-part Foundations on the Holy Spirit, Our Invisible Allies and his latest, A God-Sized Future.

For the original article, visit theheartofabba.com.

 

Should Christians Attend Church?.


I have often said that walking into a church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than walking into a garage makes you a car. Attending church does not save us, nor does anything else we do. We are saved by grace, through faith, on account of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ alone. This truth encapsulates how we are justified before God–in other words, how we are forgiven of all sin and declared righteous in the sight of our holy and merciful Creator. It follows then that a genuine believer will not lose his or her salvation by failing to go to church.

However, the Scriptures also teach that the Christian life should be lived within the context of the family of God (Ephesians 3:4-15Acts 2) and not in isolation. Hebrews 10 clearly tells us “not to neglect the gathering of ourselves together as is the custom of some” (Hebrews 10:25). Indeed, I cannot conceive of a true Christian not wanting to gather together regularly with fellow believers to worship the Lord through the sacraments and receive His Word through preaching.

Of course, our discussion presupposes the importance of being vitally connected not just to any group that claims the name of Christ, but to a healthy, well-balanced church that honors the historical and biblical Jesus. Such a church, first of all, worships God through prayer, praise, and the proclamation of the Word in the context of the essential teachings of the historic Christian faith.

These essentials include the final authority of Scripture, the Trinity, the full deity and humanity of Christ, the substitutionary atoning death of Christ, the bodily resurrection of Christ, salvation by grace alone through faith, and so forth. As well, a true church soundly administers the sacraments. Furthermore, fellowship should be an integral part of a faithful church’s construct, where people come not only to give but also to use their time, talent, and treasure for the edification of the body. Finally, a healthy, well-balanced church equips and encourages people to go out and impact the world for Christ.

Originally published as “Must Christians Attend Church?” (used by permission).

‘Grace Unplugged’ Explores Fame, Family and Faith.


Grace Unplugged
‘Grace Unplugged’ opened in theaters Friday. (Facebook)

Grace Unplugged—a prodigal son story meets modern-day worship scene—is the newest faith film to hit theaters.

Opening in select theaters on Friday, the family-friendly movie follows the turbulent relationship of Johnny (James Denton), a former rock star turned worship leader dad, and his vocally talented daughter, Grace (AJ Michalka of 78violet).

Despite her wholesome family upbringing, Grace begins to rebel and sets her sights on secular stardom. The 18-year-old runs away from her Alabama home to the bright lights of Hollywood and soon discovers fame has a dark side.

Wrapped in the main story line is the tender narrative of a father-daughter relationship that illustrates how even flawed human beings can make amends through the grace of God. The characters of Johnny and Grace are relatable as they grapple with a parent’s desire to protect his offspring and a child’s fight to be her own person.

Without being too explicit, the film captures the perils of a sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle. Conversely, it conspicuously shows God’s relentless grace and forgiveness. Christian families will be relieved to find an enjoyable film that is unashamed about bringing the gospel message to the silver screen.

The Lionsgate film cost $1.7 million and deployed trained actors, such as Kevin Pollak (A Few Good Men), to bring a realistic depiction of a person faced with the dilemma of following Christ or their own path to true happiness.

Though the film is targeted for young adults, it will make an enjoyable cinematic experience for all. The film is rated PG.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

How to Endure in the Race of Faith.


How to Endure in the Race of Faith

I remember taking eye exams as a child and being quite proud that I could stand back twenty feet from the sign with all the random letters and read each one. I’ve had 20/20 vision for as long as I can remember. I’ve never worn glasses—never needed to.

Lately my perfect eye sight isn’t so perfect. The revelation that my eye sight isn’t up to par came one night as I was attempting to drive in the rain. It wasn’t a downpour, it was a normal rainfall, yet I found myself squinting to see the white lines and everything looked like a bright reflection. Reflection of what, I don’t know, but I knew I couldn’t see. Then later I realized I couldn’t read signs that were far away.  I finally accepted that I no longer have 20/20 vision and needed to go to see an eye doctor.

As I’ve continued to walk with the Lord I have also had seasons of blurred vision. When we first become a Christian the future seems bright, everything is exciting, and there may even be freedom from past sin. But then the reality of the Christian walk sets in. We battle with sin, trials come, dry seasons leave us parched for the Lord and we realize what once bright and clear and wonderful has become confusing and difficult. We are in a torrential downpour and unable to see through to the other side. Our vision of God gets distorted and we can become discouraged.

A Race Requiring Endurance

Because of our inability to see the future and our temptation to forget the Lord we need endurance for the race set before us.  I imagine the writer of Hebrews knew our tendency to forget God’s grace and purposes as we run the race of faith.  Running a road race requires significant endurance. Each time I run a 5K I am well aware that I have to complete approximately 3.2 miles. At the starting line my mind is clear and my vision for the finish line seems secure. But around mile two I’m ready to quit. Surely we are finished I think to myself.

That is why Hebrews reminds us to run with endurance the race set before us (Hebrews 12:1). The Christian walk requires endurance because we battle along the way. We aren’t promised to have an easy race ahead of us and we need 20/20 vision to understand God’s good grace to endure.

Here are just three reasons we need endurance:

1)      To fight against sin: Our battle with sin requires endurance.  Paul explains that we have not arrived at perfection upon conversion. Though we want to do good evil is right there beside us (Romans 7:15-20). And as Christians we hate this. We don’t want to sin because we know it’s against the God we love.  We battle our flesh as we wait for the day when we will be freed from this earthly battle that clings so closely to us. Our battle with sin can tempt us to discouragement or even condemnation. But we know that there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). We can run this race with endurance battling sin along the way knowing that one day we will be united with Christ, glorified (Colossians 3:4). And we wait knowing that he will finish the good work he began (Philippians 1:6). We wait resting not in our good works but in His finished work on the cross.

2)      To endure trials: Trials will come. God warns us not to be surprised when the fiery trail comes (1 Peter 4:12). God tells us that trials test our faith and ultimately are for our good (James 1: 2-18). Trials aren’t beyond the sovereign plan of the Lord. He gives and he takes away (Job 1:21). He also gives grace through trials. Trials are difficult, Jesus knows and endured trials and death on our behalf. He was tempted in every way but without sin (Hebrews 4:15). It is Jesus who gives us the grace to endure the trials of the Christian walk. He will give us the grace to wait patiently through our blurred vision as we might not see all of God’s purposes in them. But future grace awaits.

3)      To experience discipline: There are times in our walk when we experience the consequence of sin. Those are definite times of discipline that we must endure in. But it is not only consequences of our actions that we experience as discipline. There may be hardship or reproof from the Lord as well. Whatever the case, we know that God is treating us as children—as his sons (Hebrews 12:8). The writer of Hebrews doesn’t make light of our hesitance towards receiving discipline. He understands that “for the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but there is a great encouragement for us to endure until the end. All discipline seems painful but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness (12:11).

Enduring Until the End

So how do we respond when our vision gets blurry? We look to Jesus who is the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross (Hebrews 12:2). We look to the One seated at the right hand of the throne of God. We aren’t running this race alone. Jesus is cheering us on—but not on the sidelines—He is right in the middle of the race with us interceding each step of the way.

Run the race with full assurance of faith knowing that the prize has already been won through Jesus. Our sight is blurred now but soon we will see clearly. Soon our faith will become sight.

Trillia Newbell, Author

Trillia Newbell is a freelance journalist and writer. She wrote on faith and family for The Knoxville News-Sentinel, and serves as the Lead Editor of Karis, the Women’s Channel of CBMW. She guests post frequently at The Gospel Coalition and Desiring God. She is the author of United: Captured by God’s Vision for Diversity (Moody 2014). Her love and primary role is that of a wife and mother. She lives in Tennessee with her husband Thern and their two children. You can learn more about her via her site www.trillianewbell.com and follow her on twitter: @trillianewbell

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