SCANDALOUS

“As Christians, our purpose is to love those people the way Jesus loves them – with generous compassion, scandalous grace, and undeniable truth.”

ONE of my favorite Bible passages is John 1:16. In the NKJV it reads, “And of His fullness we have all received and grace for grace.”  It can also be rendered, grace upon grace’ , that is over and over again, never stopping, just continuous grace! I  heard it described once in this manner…

GRACE. God’s wonderful, matchless, unwarranted riches of forgiveness and love lavished upon people like me who were enemies of God, not loving, nor caring about Christ, God’s only Son who, not only was with the Father as the Creator of the universe; but, became the sacrificial lamb. Beaten so horrifically and murdered in a way by which no human, nor any creature should ever be subjected. Yet, by His grace, He made me an heir to His kingdom, a son, righteous only by the blood of Christ; but loved with a love so deep, so pure, and never ending.

Imagine a beautiful mountain stream, fresh, sparkling clean, amazing in taste and unmatched in its refreshment and with the sound of the water flowing along, the wind wafting along, lightly in the trees, birds and animals gathering to enjoy the wonderful early afternoon sight. For me, the smell of lilac, fresh and flowing on the air makes the scene complete. In that scene, the flowing water is God’s grace. One pastor described kneeling at that stream and drinking in the cool water to his heart’s content. I picture it differently. I throw myself headlong into the water, submerging myself and coming to the surface where I stretch out in the stream and allow the water to flow over me, knowing that every second the grace is new, it is fresh, and it will never run out. Every part of me completely engulfed by the refreshing stream. I find myself completely lost in its embrace.

Bighorn Mountain Lake

In a session for the Bible study, ROOTED: Connect with God the Church your Purpose, in teaching on GRACE, is written… “As Christians, our purpose is to love those people the way Jesus loves them – with generous compassion, scandalous grace,  and undeniable truth.” (emphasis added) I love that term! Scandalous grace! Defined, scandalous is at once, shocking or outrageous. That describes such love, particularly in Jesus’ time when He was seen lavishing love on an adulterous woman of the street by forgiving her of all she had done. Jesus love was certainly not the physical love we are drawn to imagine, but for the religious folks of Jesus’ time, the other definitions would fit HIS grace…  Think about how the self-righteous religious leaders of Jesus time (and perhaps even ours) might picture Jesus’ grace on those they saw as too low to speak with, to reprehensible to share a meal or clothing. Try these: disgraceful, immoral, shameful, indecent, disreputable, appalling, reprehensible, wicked… For Jesus to sit at the well and speak openly to the Samaritan woman, really! It was not just a woman He was lowering Himself to address, not just a poor woman, but a Samarian!

In a session for the Bible study, ROOTED: Connect with God the Church your Purpose, in teaching on GRACE, is written… “As Christians, our purpose is to love those people the way Jesus loves them – with generous compassion, scandalous grace,  and undeniable truth.” (emphasis added) I love that term! Scandalous grace! Defined, scandalous is at once, shocking or outrageous. That describes such love, particularly in Jesus’ time when He was seen lavishing love on an adulterous woman of the street by forgiving her of all she had done. Jesus love was certainly not the physical love we are drawn to imagine, but for the religious folks of Jesus’ time, the other definitions would fit HIS grace…  Think about how the self-righteous religious leaders of Jesus time (and perhaps even ours) might picture Jesus’ grace on those they saw as too low to speak with, to reprehensible to share a meal or clothing. Try these: disgraceful, immoral, shameful, indecent, disreputable, appalling, reprehensible, wicked… For Jesus to sit at the well and speak openly to the Samaritan woman, really! It was not just a woman He was lowering Himself to address, not just a poor woman, but a Samarian!

Then, of course, we have Mary, a woman no stranger to immorality and demeaning relationships with apparently multiple men… not only did Jesus love her with grace unmatched by anything the world had ever known, but He allowed her to express her thankfulness by pouring rich, fragrant perfume in his hair and by that publicly show the depth of her love for Him… certainly the religious leaders thought it disgraceful, immoral, shameful… Jesus’ grace to them was all of those. Even to Judas, an apostle… he could not fathom how Jesus would allow such a thing. Although Judas’ concern was more for the money he was losing by not having his own hands on that perfume than the indecency of Christ’s allowing such a show of affection!

THE GRACE of GOD,  poured out on mankind by CHRIST… absolutely SCANDALOUS!

PRAISE GOD!

A True Patriot

“…a person who claims to love America and support America but fled to Canada in the 1960’s does not qualify as a patriot. I can agree with that. Whether you do or not matters little here because, quite frankly, I’m the author. You can write your own blog.”

In tribute to all those whose full measure of devotion was required

11 September 2013  Patriots’ Day in the U.S.A.      

Dr. Ross L. Riggs

All across the nation today there will be blogs written, such as this one, remembering 9-11 and calling for Americans to stand tall against those who would declare themselves an enemy of this great Republic. Like many, I found it disheartening how soon after 9-11 the flags stopped flying from almost every porch in America and how soon the echoes of those in prayer for our country and its people, its soldiers, seemed to fade.

Did you know that a person can be a patriot when he or she stands strong on behalf of their country and that they can also be a patriot when they stand strong against their government? Allow me to quote from a most hallowed source, Dictionary.Com.

dictionary

1. a person who loves, supports, and defends his or her country and its interests with devotion.

2. a person who regards himself or herself as a defender, especially of individual rights, against presumed interference by the federal government.   (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/patriot?db=dictionary)

 

A person who loves and supports and defends both the country and its interests with devotion is a patriot. Look carefully at that sentence because it speaks volumes. The article ‘or’ is only in one place in that sentence, between his and her, nowhere else. It is not a person who loves or supports his or her country. It is not a person who loves and supports just his or her country but the country and its interests. I find that interesting for a couple of reasons, not the least of which is a question that comes to my mind. Who determines a country’s interests? For example, are America’s interests inclusive of strong traditional marriage or the ‘I can marry anyone I love’ type of marriage? Who determines what America’s interests are? I’m not going to argue that here; it is just a question that came to mind. Who gets to make those choices?

 

So, back to the first definition: the patriot loves, supports and defends (all three) that would mean that a person who claims to love America and support America but fled to Canada in the 1960’s does not qualify as a patriot. I can agree with that. Whether you do or not matters little here because, quite frankly, I’m the author. You can write your own blog. But notice there is yet another qualifier in that first definition… “with devotion.” What does that mean, exactly? Someone once explained to me that a hen is devoted to giving us something of her so we can have a healthy breakfast. A pig, on the other hand, is committed to it. That may seem like semantics, unless of course, you are the pig.

 

Dictionary.Com informs us that devotion is “profound dedication; consecration” and even “earnest attachment to a cause or person, etc.” What that means is that we all know what ‘devotion’ is; we just cannot explain it without using other modifiers that are also undefinable; but somehow we just know devotion when we see it.

 

The second definition of ‘patriot’ is “a person who regards himself as a defender, especially of individual rights against presumed interference by the federal government.” Here is where I think the article “OR” can go…  You can be a patriot devoted to your country OR you can regard YOURSELF as a defender, sticking up for the individual, which in this case probably would also be YOURSELF, against the big bad federal government. For some reason, I think perhaps that Dictionary.Com understands the distinction between a Patriot and a patriot. One flies the American flag, if not every day, at least on all holidays; and in the meantime if it is stored, it is stored properly. The patriot is probably running around with cardboard license plates because he doesn’t have to do what the government says! He’s an amurican! – but only in an individual sort of way.

 

A True Patriot is regarded by others, who know him or her, as a Patriot. Most true patriots probably think very seldom of themselves. They are usually looking out for their families, their neighbors, their co-workers, the sick, the elderly, the infirm, and the orphaned. They are the ones out for a walk and just out of habit, reach down and pick up that piece of litter someone else threw and they carry it until they find the right place to drop it. The true patriot not only makes it to the voting polls each time but maybe volunteers there or calls someone they know who might need a ride to get to the polls.

 

A true patriot stands, if he is able, when the flag passes. He or she has a hand over their heart during the anthem at a ball game, not ordering a hot dog. He or she probably will shed a tear when they see a wounded vet and they may just haul off and punch some punk that belittles that vet in some way. I know a patriot, a true one. Actually, I know several but the one I’m thinking of never had a chance to serve in the military, although he would have liked to. He gets really steamed when he sees anyone act in a demeaning way toward the symbols of our nation.

 

Dictionary.Com actually has a third definition of a patriot. It does begin with a capital ‘P’. It has a range of 37 miles and carries a 200 pound warhead. On this Patriots’ Day I seek to honor all those who have given their full measure of devotion to our great country. America is exceptional and I thank God for each of you and your families. I wish for you this holiday that you will find something about our country that makes you smile. I have another wish as well. I would like all of the enemies of our beloved United States of America to have an opportunity to meet a true patriot, whether it is one whose heart proudly beats for America or one that travels up to 37 miles to release a 200 pound warhead!

 

May God bless America and may America bless God!