Tuesday, June 2, 2015

reading grace

 We're on the latter side of our recovery.  For the first time, we all slept most of the way through the night last night! And the parents are glad.  Delirium makes a house wild with three little boys.  

Jet lag has it's benefits though. You can get a lot of reading done at 3am.  I am reading two really fantastic books this week.  I'm hardly inside of them yet, but I'm going to go ahead and recommend them to you.  The opening chapters are that good.  

The first is Timothy Keller's book on work called Every Good Endeavor. If you only go to the book store and start this one, it would be worth it.  In the introduction to the material, he relates a small title by Tolkien called "Leaf by Niggle." I cannot helpfully relay the analogy to you without copying his entire chapter, so I will not try.  Stories have a certain power over me. And there are moments in reading when I sense that a story will remain in my mind, as a gracious analogy, until I am old. His retelling of "Leaf by Niggle" in this book was one of those moments.

The second book I am working on is Good News for Weary Women: Escaping the bondage of to-do lists, steps and bad advice by Elyse M. Fitzpatrick.  I confess that it is making me uncomfortable….all her talk on grace. It's a healthy kind of uncomfortable though.  I admit that often I unconsciously lean on a tidy life as a means of grace.  Here's a bit of what I read this morning that is working through my mind and heart today:

What do you boast in? Do you boast in your abilities or your wisdom or your nice home or your mad parenting skills? What gives you assurance and confidence at the end of the day? Are you pleased with yourself because you have your theological ducks in a row or because you're involved in all sorts of worthy causes?  
If we are tempted to boast about something, we can follow Paul's example and boast about our weaknesses…..It seems to me that the whole point of all the steps, lists, and bad advice we're given is to overcome any sense of weakness.  That message sells because we don't want to appear weak in our own eyes - or in anyone else's. We've forgotten the truth that Paul knew: "When I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Corinthians 12:10)  
The Lord's word to you and to me is simply this: don't boast in anything you do or do not have.  Boast only in the truth that you are loved by the Lord, who poured out His just wrath on your Savior and clothed you in His righteousness.  Don't seek to commend yourself, because "it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends" (2 Corinthians 10:18).  
And the really wonderful but often overlooked truth is that the Lord already commends you.  Not for those things  you think are commendable, but for the sake of the Son He loves. 
Read that last line again.

Good news.  Good news. 

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