Grace

Category Archives: Grace

8 Questions That Help Me Know If I’m Growing Spiritually

newtonbookcoverIt seems like I should be able to determine relatively easily if I’m personally growing spiritually but it isn’t as easy as you think it should be. What exactly should I be looking for in my life? For so many people the indicators of spiritual growth are only focused on behavior. Now of course our behavior is incredibly important to God but when that is the only consideration, we neglect our heart which is where our motives and loves spring from.

I recently finished Tony Reinke’s book Newton on the Christian Life; a book that will almost certainly be on the short list of best books that I read in 2015. Even if you’re not familiar with Newton, you are definitely familiar with his most famous hymn: Amazing Grace. After leaving the slave trade, Newton became a pastor in Olney and later London. While his sermons are rather ordinary, the hundreds of personal letters he wrote are exceptional. They are quite literally treasure troves of spiritual wisdom, pastoral care, and pictures of grace.

Reinke does a great job of surfacing some of Newton’s treasures and helping the reader personally benefit from it. In one section he shares Newton’s marks of a maturing Christian. While this list is hardly exhaustive, it does a good job of probing our heart and helping us see areas of our life that we might need to grow in. After each mark, I included a question(s) to further help me discern where I am spiritually.

Will God Ever Give Up On Me?

We’ve all been there. You give in to a temptation you’ve struggled against for years. Maybe it’s lust, or an eating disorder, or greed, or anger. After a flood of guilt and self-loathing you find yourself wondering: Will God ever give up on me? Is this the final straw? Am I really a Christian? When we start wondering

The Lord’s Inexhaustible Patience: One Real-Life Example

Second Peter 3:8-9 (ESV) But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but

The Cross, the Switchblade, and the Empowering Love of the Father

Yesterday was Easter Sunday and, as usual, Christians all over the world celebrated the truly-distinctive mark of their faith, one of the most well-documented and attested historical events in all of antiquity, namely the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth from the dead. In academic circles, no one seriously denies that Jesus was an itinerant Jewish

A $560 lesson in Prayer

One cold, drizzly autumn night in Chicago, two young 20-somethings made their way to their bi-weekly small group. The day had started over twelve hours earlier. They were tired and running late – never a good combination. They pulled their black Honda Civic up to parallel park on a busy residential city street. The reversing motion began, and suddenly an irreversible, undeniable sound and feeling – side-swiping another car.

For True Change, Consult the Author of ‘All Things New’

Isaiah 43:19 (ESV) Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Revelation 21:5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this

Three Babies and God’s Grace

On the same Sunday morning in 2015 two babies were born on opposite sides of the world. Neither are particularly special on the surface – neither famous nor particularly noteworthy. Neither knows of the other. However, news of both of their arrivals, and even on the same day, caught my attention and made my eyes a little misty – in a very rich way.

What is so special about these two seven pound babies?

‘Do you want to be healed?’

John 5:1-9a (ESV) After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. In these lay a multitude of invalids – blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who

27 Things to Give Thanks For No Matter What Life Looks Like

Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on what we have to be thankful for. But when we look around and see that our life doesn’t look like what we wish it did, when circumstances are tough, it’s hard to give thanks. And yet the Bible tells us to give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thess 5:18). But how do we do that when it’s hard to find things to be thankful for?

Here are some things that we can thank God for, no matter what our particular circumstances look like. Really, this list is a lot more about God, who he is and what he does, than it is about us. And it mixes in some things that are true as part of how we, as God’s image-bearers, continue to develop and advance creation. And the fact that it’s 27 is really rather arbitrary (and the order is somewhat random too). Maybe you can take this as a jumping off point and think of another 27.

I can be thankful to God that . . .

Happily Falling for the Greatest Swindle Ever

Everyone – and in this one instance I really do mean absolutely everyone, myself included – tends to respond to personal moral failures by seeking the false comfort afforded by listening to the relentless inner voice that stubbornly insists, “Come on! You’re a pretty good person!” And once we accept the proposition that we are,