Unintentional Lessons On Grace From Coach Roach

I can only remember two sentences that Coach Roach ever spoke to me.

Coach Roach was his real, given name. Well, Roach was. Coach was just a title. I guess when you have a last name like Roach, you just have to go all in and find a career that gives you a rhyming title. That way, thirty years later, people will still remember you and at least two sentences you said to them.

Coach Roach was my seventh grade football coach. I played for the Adamson Indians. We were terrible. More specifically, I was terrible. But we had nice uniforms. Mine was especially nice.

One day, on our way down to the field from the locker room, I asked Coach Roach how my uniform looked. I have no idea why I did this. To the best of my knowledge, it’s the first and only time I ever asked a grown man to evaluate my looks. On top of that, Coach Roach was legally blind. No, I’m not making that up.

I still remember what he told me in his thick accent that I thought sounded like something straight out of Brooklyn.

“Ya look like a million bucks, son.”

Man, I was so proud. Coach Roach thought I looked like a million bucks! But my pride faded by the time the game was over and I was walking back up to our locker room. I still looked like a million bucks. There were no blood or grass stains on my pants. My jersey had no rips in it. The other team’s helmet paint wasn’t smattered across my helmet.

I looked like a million bucks.

It’s just too bad that I didn’t play that way. Come to think of it, I barely played at all.

I think that I still remember those words because they give a perfect assessment of today’s church. Many people who claim to be Christians look the part. They listen to radio stations with words like Fish and Love in the title. They live by a strong moral code. They are good boys and girls.

They look like a million bucks.

But they aren’t in the game. In many cases, they aren’t even on the team.

The Pharisee in Jesus’ parable from Luke 18 was this way. He was good. And in case God forgot, he was willing to let him know.

“I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.” Luke 18:12 (ESV)

But there was another man in Jesus’ story. He barely felt worthy to put on the uniform, much less to ask Coach Roach how he looked. When he prayed, rather than running through his stellar spiritual résumé, he asked God for his mercy.

And Jesus gave a stunning assessment of the two men.

The sinner who asked for mercy was made right with God, not the man who looked like a million bucks.

For all of his shortcomings, the sinner in Jesus’ story understood something that the Pharisee and many of us do not. Being right with God has nothing to do with our performance or how well we look while performing.

That brings me to the second sentence I remember Coach Roach saying to me.

“Sandaz, ya gonna get crooooooooo-suh-fied!”

That’s what Coach Roach would say to me during tackling drills. I was too small and too scared to do well at those drills so usually I ended up looking more like a frightened ballerina than an actual football player. But hey, at least I made my coach think about Jesus. That’s got to count for something.

No matter how good you think you are, your sin was so great that it took the death of Jesus to make you right with God. Only through faith and repentance, not fasting and tithing, can you be made right with God.

My football career came to an end after that season with Coach Roach. But I’m thankful for him, if for nothing else, because of those two sentences that he spoke to me. I didn’t know it at the time but I was learning something about grace.

I wasn’t able to fake my way into a right relationship with God.

God did not accept me because I looked the part.

I am right with God because the crucified and risen Lord had mercy on me.

A sinner.

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The Witch Hunt Of Chip And Joanna Gaines

And so the witch hunt of Chip and Joanna Gaines begins.

What is their crime? They have committed our culture’s unpardonable sin of belonging to a church that teaches that homosexuality goes against God’s standard. And the good people at BuzzFeed seem intent on making them pay for their crimes.

Now keep in mind, Chip and Joanna have never publicly stated anything regarding homosexuality. No one has uncovered a John Rocker moment from their past where they went off the rails saying all kinds of mean things about gays. No, they simply take their family to a church each week that teaches that homosexuality is a sin.

Gasp!

The article’s author, Kate Aurthur, puts forth this question.

“So are the Gaineses against same-sex marriage? And would they ever feature a same-sex couple on the show, as have HGTV’s House Hunters and Property Brothers? Emails to Brock Murphy, the public relations director at their company, Magnolia, were not returned. Nor were emails and calls to HGTV’s PR department.”

A generation ago, the $64,000 Question was, “Are you now or were you ever a member of the Communist Party of the United States?”

For Chip and Joanna Gaines, the question appears to be, “Would you be willing to flip a house for a gay couple and if not, when can we send the Sensitivity Trainers over to flip your home?”

Make no mistake, it’s not equality that is at play here. The prophets of the false church of LGBT care nothing about fairness or equality. No, their concern is dominance. And all of their talk of tolerance is a trick. The only tolerance they care about is everyone else tolerating whatever sexual appetite is en vogue at the moment. And they’ll stop at nothing to carry on with their bullying.

Part of the appeal of Chip and Joanna is that they’re like us. They’re regular people who are good at what they do. Chip is one of your buddies who jokes about how stupid he is. Joanna is the artsy lady you go to church with. They are normal, happy, successful folks.

And, for the LGBT brigade, that’s the problem.

In a world where seemingly everyone is offended by something, the most offensive thing a person can do is to live a happy, normal life that is guided by a faith that has not been previously approved by our culture’s sexual gatekeepers.

Much of the LGBT community thrives on self-identifying as victims. They have even gone so far as to equate their movement with the civil rights movement led by Dr. Martin Luther King. In reality, the real victims of hate are those who refuse to bow the knee to the god of homosexuality. The Bible could not be more clear in it’s message to believers. We are to love everyone, that includes gay people (Matthew 22:34-40). But we must not condone any sin (James 5:19-20). And as we faithfully hold to that standard, we must expect hardship (2 Timothy 3:12-13).

But don’t worry. The One True God is far more powerful than the god of this age.

He cares nothing about winning a culture war. That was taken care of when he rose from the grave.

Because of that victory, he has won something greater, an eternal home for his people that cannot perish or fade away.

Christian, no amount of cultural bullying can touch who you are and what awaits you in Christ (1 Peter 1:3-5).

And non-Christian, no amount of rebellion is too much for the grace of God. The gospel is more than a statement on human sexuality. It is a declaration that none of us is good enough to achieve salvation on our own and please a holy God. A homosexual’s greatest need is not to be made straight. It is to be made right with God. And in Christ, that has been made available.

That simple message is what many in the LGBT community find so offensive.

But that’s okay.

Grace is always offensive.

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (ESV)

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Grace And The Disaster On The Front Pew

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I’m usually not good at predictions.

But I nailed this one.

My wife was helping out somewhere else in the sanctuary. I was preaching. And my kids were by themselves on the front row for the whole service. That’s usually not a problem. It’s happened before. But this particular Sunday morning was unique. Our church was taking the Lord’s Supper and, for my kids, there would be no parents around helping them to handle the elements.

I quietly predicted disaster.

Like I said, I nailed it.

The bread came by without incident. My two sons sat just one row in front of me as I led the service. I could see their tiny, probably not very clean fingers, navigating their way through the plate. My sincerest apologies to all of the folks who came after them. The boys both grabbed their bread and waited patiently. There was no throwing or choking. Just reverence. I was proud. But we were only halfway there.

When the juice came around there was a problem with the exchange between one kid and the other. I was sitting right there. I saw it happen as if it were in slow motion. But, just like when you realize a half a second too late that you’re about to get in a wreck, there was nothing I could do. The whole plate of little juice glasses did not spill but there were enough that did.

Two thoughts immediately came to mind.

First, after nearly 40 years spent in church, I finally realized why every Baptist church has dark red carpet. I always thought it was because of some hidden Bible code. It’s not. It’s for moments like this one. The dark red juice blended in quite nicely with the dark red carpet.

My second thought was that I was glad that we’re not Catholic. Catholics believe that the elements of the Lord’s Supper actually turn into the body and blood of Jesus Christ. I don’t know much about pastors in Catholic churches but I’m sure that they get in a lot of trouble when their kids spill something that serious on the carpet. Wait. See, I told you that I don’t know a lot about Catholic pastors. Never mind.

While I was sitting there contemplating Baptist carpet and Catholic tradition, things were still falling apart on the front row. My kids were scrambling for tissues they could use to clean up their mess. When they found none, they took their search outside of the sanctuary. Both boys. And then one of them came back in. And then he left again. And then they returned to the scene of the crime.

By this time I had quit thinking about carpet and Catholics and started asking God to forgive me for my impure thoughts. And boy were they impure.

I was angry. But I wasn’t angry because my sons were rebelling. They weren’t. I was angry because I was afraid of what people might think about me. I wanted to correct my sons loudly and publicly so that everyone could say something like, “See, that preacher knows how to handle business!”

We don’t take the Lord’s Supper because of tradition. We take it because Jesus told us to do it in remembrance of him and the work he did on our behalf by dying on the cross and rising from the grave (Luke 22:19).

Thankfully, by God’s grace, I remembered all of that before I created an even bigger disaster.

Things finally settled down with the preacher’s kids on the front row and the service closed out without the roof falling in. On the way out to our car, my son was solemn. He told me that he was sorry for what had happened during the quiet of the Lord’s Supper.

By this time, the grace of God had already taken over the law that was in my heart.

I told my son that it was okay. There was an accident and he and his brother did the best they could to make it right. I told him that next time they needed to remember that there are other worshipers around and we need to do all we can not to distract them.

He understood.

Life moved on.

Our kids need our discipline. What they don’t need is our wrath. And they don’t need parents who care more about impressing a crowd than shaping their own children. Yes, our kids need to be corrected. And sometimes that correction needs to be firm. But there always needs to be grace.

We take the Lord’s Supper the first Sunday of every month at our church. The next time we take it I will remember. I’ll remember the cross where my Father gave his Son to rescue me from my sins. But I’ll also remember the pew where I was reminded that demonstrating grace to others didn’t stop at the cross. Recipients of grace should be the greatest distributors of it.

If you ever come to visit our church and you look hard enough around the front row, you’ll see a spot in the dark red carpet. The pastor’s kids put it there. Like their father, they’re not perfect. But, like their father, they carry with them a different spot.

That’s the spot of the blood of Jesus that has washed away our sins.

And it’s a spot that gives us all the grace we need for each new day.

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The Devil’s Dictionary Of American Religious Words And Phrases

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With words and phrases, there are the actual definitions and the practical definitions. The actual definitions are the ones that have been assigned to words for centuries. The practical definitions are what we really mean. Here’s a look at what a lot of people really mean when they use certain religious terms.

Sin – an archaic term that has largely fallen out of use in modern times but is occasionally used to describe how hot it is outside or how bad people other than me are

Sample Sentence 1: “Man, it’s hot as sin out here.”

Sample Sentence 2: “Jesus didn’t care near as much about sin as today’s Christians do.”

Church – a group of people with nothing better to do with their weekends than sitting around with a bunch of hypocrites

Sample Sentence: “I’m glad I’m better than all of those people at that church who think that they’re better than everyone.”

Hypocrite – anyone who disagrees with me

Sample Sentence: “No I do not have a meth problem. I have it completely under control. Now let’s talk about all of those soft drinks you gulp down, hypocrite!”

Bible – an instrument intended for selective use in order to win an argument or prove a point; anything more than selective use and argument winning is only for hypocrites

Sample Sentence: “Well, the Bible says, ‘Judge not lest ye be not judgeth,’ so take that you block-headed little fool!”

Pharisee – any person whose devotion or self-discipline forces me to come to grips with my own lack of meaningful devotion and/or self-discipline

Sample Sentence: “Yeah, I guess he’s an alright guy but he’s sort of a Pharisee. I mean look at him. He’s been married to the same woman for over five years. Oh, and that perfect little haircut. Give me a break!”

Organic – any music, teaching, book or worship service that meets my approval and contains no unnecessary ingredients such as people, music and/or ideas that I do not like

Sample Sentence: “I love our small group because it’s very organic. I just hope no one else comes and messes things up.”

Judgmental – when one person addresses the sin of another person, regardless of the sin and no matter how horrific the sin is

Sample Sentence: “Stop being so judgmental! What I do with my neighbor’s wife at the pool hall is my business.”

Authentic – when I or someone I approve of indulges in a horrific sin

Sample Sentence: “Did you hear about him and his neighbor’s wife at the pool hall? He’s so authentic. I hope he writes a book.”

Love – when other people affirm me or someone I approve of in our sin, no matter how horrific said sin is

Sample Sentence: “I want to thank all of those who have committed to love me as I have committed to continue hanging out at the pool hall with my neighbor’s wife.”

Jesus – a great teacher who lived a long time ago and, if he were with us today, would most certainly approve of my horrific sin

Sample Sentence: “The Jesus I know would be at the pool hall with me and the neighbor’s wife before he’d ever be seen in some old church.”

So now, thanks to The Devil’s Dictionary of American Religious Words and Phrases, you can finally understand what’s really being said in the comments section.

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Stopping The Cycle Of Self-Righteousness

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It’s called passing the blame. We all do it. We do it because it makes us feel better about ourselves. It gives us a sense of righteousness. But it’s a false sense of righteousness and Jesus doesn’t care for it.

Person A does something terrible and he gets caught. Red handed. There’s no getting out of it. He could repent but that would require a measure of humility, a lacking quality in the character of Person A. So Person A does what seems most logical. He takes a look at Person B and finds that Person B has done the exact same thing. Or, even better for Person A, something much worse. Problem solved. At the very least, Person A is no worse than anyone else on the planet. But most likely, as he sees it and in spite of his wrong doing, he’s actually much better than everyone else.

The problem here is that we are not called to meet the standard of Person B. We are called to meet the standard of a holy God. And we all fail miserably. So when we carry on about how much better we are than the other fellow we sound an awful lot like the out of shape man in his 30s who can’t quit talking about how good his high school football team was. No one cares. It doesn’t matter.

Jesus told a story to get across just how much he hates this type of self-righteousness (Luke 18:9-14).

A well-respected religious man went to the temple to pray. He would have been better off staying at home. Rather that pleading with and worshiping God, this man used his time of prayer to show God what a great guy he is.

“God, thank you for making me so awesome. I am so much better than all of the sinners out there, especially that heathen on the other side of the room. Oh, and I also wanted to remind you that I make the effort to tithe even more than I’m supposed to. I’ll bet you don’t come across very many people like me. You’re welcome.”

On the other side of the room, another prayer was being spoken. But this one was different. It was much more simple. And much more humble.

“God, I deserve death but I ask for your mercy. I am a sinner.”

The man who prayed the first prayer was a member of the religious establishment. He was well-respected and well-taught. The crowd listening to Jesus’ story was most likely expecting Jesus to commend this man, simply because he belonged to the right group.

But instead of commending him, Jesus condemned him.

It was the second man, a hated tax-collector, who Jesus said went home justified. His humble cry for mercy was heard and the transition was made from sinner to justified.

Pay attention the next time a politician or one of the toddlers living in your home does something foolish. You won’t have to wait long and, chances are, you’ll have a hard time telling the difference between the toddler and the politician. Notice the response when they get caught. More than likely, the response is something closer to self-righteousness than genuine humility.

“But he did it too!”

Now pay attention to your own tendency to respond in the same way when you are convicted or exposed in some particular sin. Remember, that you are not called to measure your sin against the sins of another. No matter how much better than the other guy you convince yourself that you are, you still fall short of God’s standard.

And that leaves you with only one logical prayer.

“God, be merciful to me, a sinner!”

Sin will always be your master until you come to grips with your need for the Master’s mercy.

“I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 18:14 (ESV)

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The Link Between Us And Them

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I don’t believe in air conditioners in automobiles. I’ve always been a window man. So when my sons spent their first few weeks of summer driving around with me, we did so with the windows down. You can’t really experience summer through air conditioning. It’s best experienced with the windows down. Otherwise, you miss out on the joy of the wind blowing in your face. And you miss out on the smells that come with summertime in Georgia.

From the backseat, my sons gave me their commentary on those Georgia summertime smells. When they noticed an appealing aroma, they let me know. I think that was their way of telling me to pull over and buy them some food. And when something smelled rancid, they let me know that too. That was their way of telling me to roll up the windows and turn the air conditioner on. I never gave in.

On one short stretch of road, we got both extremes of odor. When the smell of deep fried chicken worked its way into my automobile, my boys voiced their approval. Just a few minutes later, they let me know that the dead animal we had just driven by did not smell good. Should I be concerned that the roadkill was so close to the restaurant? Don’t answer that.

Although the smells could not have been more different, there was one thing that they had in common.

Both smells came from dead animals.

One dead animal was socially acceptable. Its odor was pleasing to the nose. Its flavor is pleasing to our sense of taste. But the other animal died of natural causes. And, judging from the odor, that death took place several days ago. No one in his right mind eats that animal.

We are a lot like those animals. Some of us are socially acceptable. Others of us are not. Some are appealing. Others are sickening. But, in our natural state, we are all dead. Only through Christ do we find life.

Our nation is divided. People who have spent seven decades on this planet tell me that we are more divided than we ever have been. We’re divided by race. We’re divided by political ideologies. And pretty much everyone is angry about it.

This is where the Church really needs to be different. We must resist the temptation to jump in on the divisiveness. We must be above it. We must remember that, apart from Christ, we are just as dead as everyone else. And we need not forget that grace is not a right. The only thing that God owes us is eternal wrath. Anything less than that is a gift.

You really aren’t that different from guy in the orange vest on the side of the road finishing out his community service hours.

You’re not as different as you think you are from the mother of four from four different men.

Really, the only difference is that you never got caught. Or you were too scared to act out on the evil intentions in your heart.

Whether it’s the promiscuous mother or the drunk working off his community service hours, there is a link between them and you.

That link is death.

You may doctor it up a little better and you may be more socially acceptable but, apart from the grace of God, you’re still dead.

Thankfully, Jesus came to save dead people. Not dead white people. Not dead religious people. Not dead Republicans or dead Democrats. Just dead people. His dead people.

So don’t be so quick to jump down on another person for the odor of their sin. Yes, confront them in love. Yes, address the sin. Yes, walk with them through it. But as you do, remember that to some degree, you carry the same odor.

And only grace can make it go away.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved. Ephesians 2:4-5 (ESV)

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Just Stand

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Stand.

That’s all it says. I’d like for it to say something more. Something more powerful. Something cooler. But it doesn’t. It just says stand.

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. Ephesians 6:11 (ESV)

In the Robert Duval’s movie The Apostle, a character preaches a sermon about Jesus doing a backflip on the devil. Wouldn’t it sound better if Paul promised Christians that they would be able to do that or some other crazy move on the devil.

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to do jiu-jitsu on the devil and fire off a few rounds from your rifle into his schemes. 

But the Bible doesn’t say that.

It just says stand.

Since when does standing give us that feeling of victory that all believers want in matters of spiritual warfare?

A closer look shows us that there is more than meets the eye to the type of standing Paul is referring to. We aren’t told to simply hang out against the devil like a bunch of kids standing outside of the laundromat. This type of standing has more to do with resistance than loitering.

As I write this I am looking at that iconic picture of a Chinese man standing alone in front of a column of tanks. He’s known as Tank Man or Unknown Rebel. Later on that day, if someone were to ask him what he did, he could have simply said, “Just stood around.” And he wouldn’t be lying. But he wouldn’t be telling the whole story. Standing doesn’t get enough credit.

Here’s what Paul is saying to us when he says that we can, “stand against the schemes of the devil.” Because of who we are in Christ, when Satan comes at us with every tactic, scheme, temptation and lie, we can remain standing. When all of his guns finally stop firing and he is left with no other fiery darts to throw our way, we will still be standing.

But it won’t be because of our strength or might. Only Christ’s strength gives us what we need in order to remain standing. Remember, we are told to put on the armor of God, not the armor of self-confidence.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Ephesians 6:10 (ESV)

If you devote your life to living in obedience to Jesus Christ you can be certain that Satan will send a column of tanks your way. For the most part, he’ll leave the porn addict, the gossiper and the self-righteous pew dweller alone. Most of his work on them has been done. It’s all just maintenance at this point. He’s saving the heavy duty weapons for the man who takes seriously his job of leading his family and serving his church. He’s coming with full force for the woman who spends more time serving than gossiping and complaining. Count on it.

But here’s something else that you can count on.

In Christ, you will not fall. In Christ, you will stand against your enemy the devil.

So leave the backflips and spiritual jiu-jitsu to Jesus. That was done at the cross and empty tomb. And because of that, your job is simple.

All you have to do is stand.

When you are tempted to look where you shouldn’t look, stand.

When you are tempted to say what you shouldn’t say, stand.

When you are tempted to believe what isn’t true, stand.

Just stand.

But remember this.

You do not stand alone. Your conquering Savior is holding you up the entire time.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 1 Peter 5:8-10 (ESV)

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Home Of The $99 Paint Job

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In the town where I grew up, there was a place that would paint your car for $99. For no extra charge, they would also paint whatever dirt, bugs and randomly growing shrubbery happened to be on your car. And, they would do it all in a day. So you could drive your rusty old Buick into this fine establishment one morning and at the end of the day, you’d be driving home in what appeared to be a car that had gotten White Out spilled all over it.

That place eventually went under. But the business model still exists in the hearts of many believers. Just slap on some paint and get things looking nice. Whether things actually are nice is irrelevant.

David had a different approach to his sin.

Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. Psalm 51:6 (ESV)

David realized that there was no amount of religious paint that could appease his Lord. God has never been interested in the appearance of his people as much as he has the actual condition of their heart.

He delights in truth, not broadcast on our shirts or car bumpers but in our hearts.

He puts his wisdom, not on our faces but in our hearts.

Like David, we can all say that we were, “brought forth in iniquity.” We have a sin problem. And the remedy to that sin problem isn’t a spiritual makeover.

A few years ago, there were shows on television where Hollywood designers would take regular looking people with self-esteem issues and give them a makeover. The results were terrific! Well, at least during the big reveal at the end of the show. They weren’t so terrific later on when everything went back to normal. At some point, the make-up has to rinse down the sink and the evening gown has to go back in the closet. So in the end, the regular folks on the show were left with the same old issues with only a few extra style tips to show for it.

The Christian life isn’t a beauty contest. It’s not a car show. It’s a marathon.

Have you ever seen the people who do really well at marathons? Elite Olympic athletes who finish a marathon in just over two hours look terrible when they’re finishing. They look like they’re going to die if someone doesn’t get them a hamburger and quick.

But they’ve reached the finish line.

They have completed their task.

And, for the most part, in spite of how they look on the outside, on the inside they’re healthy.

Grace isn’t a paint job.

Grace isn’t a makeover.

Grace is the tired runner who reaches the welcoming arms of his forgiving Father at the finish line and knows that that same forgiving Father was with him all along the way.

Don’t trade that in for a cheap paint job.

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Broken Or Caught?

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There is a difference between a broken man and a caught man. A caught man will try to cover-up his sins. A broken man will ask Jesus to do that for him.

A caught man will recognize his need to get out of trouble and he’ll do pretty much anything to get out of it. A broken man will realize that his sin has left him in a position where he has a need that only God can meet.

“Have mercy on me, O God.”

A caught man will rely on his qualifications. He’ll tell himself that he deserves grace, mercy and forgiveness. That’s another way of saying that he doesn’t understand grace, mercy and forgiveness. A broken man recognizes that he has no good to offer. He sees that there just isn’t enough good in him to make the bad go away. And so rather than lean on his own qualifications, he relies on God’s goodness.

“According to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy.”

A caught man plays the blame game. As he sees it, his sin isn’t really his sin. It’s his father’s fault for not sticking around. It’s his mother’s fault for being too overbearing. It’s society’s fault for not being fair enough. So his sin isn’t really his sin since he had no other choice but to sin. To put it bluntly, he may be the one who got caught but he’s nothing more than the victim. The blame belongs to someone else. Anyone else but him. The broken man takes ownership for his sin. He takes the blame. He says with Alexander Solzhenitsyn, “The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either, but right through every human heart, and through all human hearts.”

“Blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity; and cleanse me from my sin!” 

Every man has a sin problem. It’s one thing that we all have in common. But the question is this. What will we do with that problem? Will we act like we have been caught or will we be broken. True joy and freedom is found in the brokenness, never in the cover-up because it’s only in our brokenness that we really begin to know the love of Christ.

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity; and cleanse me from my sin! Psalm 51:1-2 (ESV)

Sometimes Grace Comes In A Different Package

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Grace shows up in funny places. Sometimes it comes in one of those moments when you can’t help but tell other people how good God is. Like when you get a big raise at work. But sometimes grace comes in a different package.

Like when you have an affair and get some guy’s wife pregnant.

If you read the account of David and Bathsheba in 2 Samuel 11, you can’t help but notice all of the corruption and heartache. But there’s grace there too.

And the woman conceived, and she sent and told David, “I am pregnant.” 2 Samuel 11:5 (ESV)

A pregnancy was the last thing that David wanted. It meant that his fling with Bathsheba would eventually be exposed. It meant that he couldn’t carry on with life as if nothing of consequence had ever happened with the woman down the street. So, seeing as how Planned Parenthood wasn’t around back in those days, David did the next best thing. He tried to make it look like the woman’s husband got her pregnant and then killed him when he wouldn’t cooperate.

Now that’s a cover-up.

Only it didn’t work so well.

That’s where we see grace showing up again in an unexpected way.

And when the mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased the LORD. 2 Samuel 11:27 (ESV)

God, in his grace, forgives us of our sins. But we are stubborn. Many times we do not think that we need forgiveness. Like David, we settle for a good cover-up scheme rather than genuine repentance. But God loves his people too much to ignore their sin. Just as his grace forgives us of our sins, his grace often exposes our sins, reminding us of the need for forgiveness in the first place.

In David’s life, this exposing grace came in a visit from a man named Nathan.

Nathan was a prophet. It was his job to say hard things but it probably didn’t get much harder than having to call out the king for a hidden sin. Such a thing could mean death for a man in Nathan’s position. Fear didn’t stop him from delivering his message. But he did do it in an unusual way.

He told a heart-breaking story about a rich man who stole, butchered and ate a poor man’s lamb (2 Samuel 12:1-4). David was furious. “Find this man and make him pay!”

Nathan’s response is unforgettable.

And it’s also saturated with grace.

“You are the man!”

I’m sure that David’s breath was taken away. Nathan went on to detail both the weight and the consequences of David’s sin. But there was grace as well.

David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” And Nathan said to David, “The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die. 2 Samuel 12:13 (ESV)

David would not get the punishment that he deserved. That is grace. But the highway on which that grace was delivered was David’s broken heart. And that broken heart would have never happened if God didn’t expose David’s sin through an unwanted pregnancy and an unafraid prophet.

You need a Nathan in your life. You need someone who loves you and God enough to lovingly call you out when you are wrong. Yes Men are not agents of grace. They are false prophets who will lead you to your doom. Grace isn’t always going to leave you feeling good. But, like any good medicine, it will make you better.

You need grace. You need it to keep you from hiding your sin. You need it to keep you from trying to justify your sin all on your own. You need it to point you to the goodness of the God you sin against.

God’s grace is seen in the forgiveness of sins. It’s seen in the freedom from sin. But it is also seen in his confrontation of your sin. You can experience the grace of God while singing at church or playing with your grandkids on the beach. And you can know it just as well when you are confronted with one of your sins that you thought was hidden. But you can never really know grace while you continue to cover your sins.

Maybe that’s why so many Christians like to sing Amazing Grace.

Only someone who has come to grips with his amazing sin can truly and honestly sing about God’s Amazing Grace.

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