Oh, My Word, Part: 6: Words That Work

“Oh. My. Word.” That was my unsophisticated reaction to reading Ike Lasater’s Words That Work in Business: A Practical Guide to Effective Communication in the Workplace. (Yes, bad pun intended.) I always like to be pleasantly surprised by titles I thought would be underwhelming to read, but this little gem sparked something in me that will long endure. It gave me a new perspective on several key areas of my personal and professional life, so I need to spend more time with it. I wasn’t expecting much from this book, but I was riveted by it—and then jolted. 

Nonviolent Communication

The author assumes prior knowledge of Marshall B. Rosenberg’s Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life. But even without that knowledge, the reader can still infer the basics of NVC from Lasater’s book, consulting Rosenberg’s seminal work later. (NVC is about connecting with ourselves and others from the heart. It’s about seeing the humanity in everyone and recognizing our commonalities. It offers a simple yet effective framework to bring awareness to what we’re thinking, saying, and doing, and how we’re listening to other people so we can communicate with better clarity and compassion. Rather than judging, blaming, or criticizing, we start on neutral common ground to share what’s important to us in order to connect with others on a more empathetic level by tuning in to what they’re needing, hoping, or desiring.)

I’ve already acknowledged in this series that sometimes my words are not vehicles of love—toward God or others. Too often they’re self-centered or dispiriting. Too often they’re unhelpful or unkind. I admitted my need to be less of a “negaholic” and “complainiac” at times, but I wasn’t always sure how to go about doing that. In the previous post, I also noted that I need to “stay in conversation” and improve my skills in that area, too, but I wasn’t always sure how to do that, either. After reading Lasater, I had a much better track to run on for charting a new course.

The Past Is Present in Our Speech

In many ways, Words That Work in Business is something of a psychology of personal interaction. In it Lasater describes my upbringing perfectly: 

I was implicitly taught how to analyze who was at fault, and thus who was to be blamed and punished. I learned how to protect myself from criticism, avoid punishment, and redirect blame. The results of this not-very-conscious process of blame and shame determined how I felt. My learning was how to avoid being blamed and punished; thus, I learned how to avoid what I did not want. This process did not help me learn what would enable me to flourish and throve or how to create the life I wanted.[1]

Can I just go back in time and teach this book to my 17-year-old self? Better yet, can someone teach it to my parents so they can teach it to me? Or is it too late? If so, maybe I can just learn the principles in this book and model them for my grandkids (if I ever get any). Until then, maybe I can just start practicing with my colleagues until I get it right. Lasater’s “training wheels sentence” for NVC newbies is this: 

“When I hear __________ , I feel __________, because I need __________. Would you be willing to __________?” 

The concept is simple, but the implications for personal interaction are profound. In my world, for example, I’ve heard dozens of sermons on not judging others, but most of them were just negative approaches. “Thou shalt not!” But what is the positive practice to replace our incessant judging and criticizing? Lasater shows us. In fact, never before have I been so “lit up” by the appendices of a book. There Lasater gives us lists of helpful words and strategies for each of the blanks in the above “training wheels sentence.” 

Preaching without Being Preachy

Does evangelicalism need a pioneer to explore these issues when it comes to homiletics? Which theological traditions might be open to such principles? Which would probably dismiss them out of hand? I have a few hunches, but that’s beside the point. I just placed another Rosenberg title on my Amazon wish list to help me pursue these stirrings: Practical Spirituality: The Spiritual Basis of Nonviolent Communication. All preachers want their words to “work” in the pulpit. Maybe there’s something here that can be helpful to us.

Quite honestly, I need to sit with this for a while. I think God is inviting me to something, though I’m not entirely sure what it is yet. In part, I’m wondering how NVC could apply to weekly preaching—where much damage is often done by our “violent” words to the congregation, unintentionally so but definitively, nonetheless. Alas, we preachers give ourselves a pass, ardently claiming “faithfulness to the sacred text” (and therefore faithfulness to God), even though we’re likely doing a lot of damage in the name of God. How can this be? I’m thinking more here about our homiletical posture than our sermonic content. How we say something can be just as important as what we say (cf. John 12:49).

Patience When We Blow It

Part of the joy in this approach is Lasater’s encouragement for us is to stop judging ourselves so harshly when we stumble in this area. This verbal life takes practice, he insists. Lots of it. “Make requests of yourself and others, not demands. Learn the difference. Feel the difference. Learn to learn.”[2]

But therein lies the problem. There’s too much I want to learn. And read. And study. But if I try to do it all, I suspect I’ll never get around to writing this dang dissertation that’s hanging over my head. So, I need divine grace at any moment to know which areas of study God wants me to pursue. On my own, I have too many. Maybe there’s a book out there that can help me with the Faustian curse that still haunts me from time to time. That, too, is likely connected to my own history of “growing up messed up.”

Thank God, then, for grace. When the Lord spoke his ultimate “Word” to us, it was Jesus, his divine Son, full of “grace and truth” (John 1:14). Consequently, there’s always hope.

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[1] Ike Lasater, Words That Work in Business: A Practical Guide to Effective Communication in the Workplace (Encinitas, CA: PuddleDancer Press, 2010), 8.

[2] Ibid., 1

Oh, My Word, Part 5: Staying in Conversation

One challenge offered by Marilyn McEntyre in her book Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies is for people to “Stay in Conversation.”[1] It was that nasty little word “stay” that first caught my attention. All of us converse from time to time—out of sheer pleasure and/or necessity—but it doesn’t come easily for many of us. As an introvert, I could be tempted to think that conversation is the verbal equivalent of kale; it may be good for me, but I don’t have to like it. On the other hand, I do enjoy conversation when it features the right blend of seriousness, wit, insight, encouragement, and/or inspiration. Small talk is just exhausting (and annoying) to this INTJ.

McEntyre laments, “Conversation is not simple. Good conversation is rare. We do not live in a culture in which the art of conversation is widely cultivated.”[2] While I agree with her observation, I also recognize that I’m part of the “culture” of which she speaks. Consequently, it’s necessary for me to cultivate my abilities when it comes to the art of conversation in order to help the cause. In this post, we’ll look at why good conversation is important, why it can be challenging for someone like me, and what I need from God to improve my conversation.

Why Good Conversation Is Important

Human beings were made for community. It’s part of who we are as creatures made in the image of God. The Lord has revealed himself to us as the divine Three-in-One, a single, triune community of love, joy, and mutuality. Moreover, God has said it is not good for people to be alone. He designed us for relationship—with him and with each other. Thankfully, the gospel makes both possible.

Indeed, the twelve disciples were a community group, formed by Jesus himself. This band of petty and pugnacious men had little in common with each other besides Jesus, yet within three years, their lives and their communities were transformed into a world-changing movement. They lived, loved, learned, and talked together as they followed Jesus, overcoming their differences as they did. Divine grace was the glue that held them together.

William Ham has said, “There are many things which a person can do alone, but being a Christian is not one of them. As the Christian life is, above all things, a state of union with Christ, and of union of his followers with one another, love of the brethren is inseparable from love of God. Resentment toward any human being cannot exist in the same heart with love to God.”[3] Ouch. Staying in conversation can be tough, especially when there’s tension or grievance in the air, right?

Moreover, we live in a culture that prizes individualism, one that views community as something to consume rather than commit to. On top of that, community is not always easy. But when we abandon community—and the rich conversation that holds it together—we deprive ourselves of the very gifts God may want to bring into our lives. McEntyre writes, “Conversation is an exchange of gifts. Native American tribal wisdom teaches that when you encounter a person on your life path, you must seek to find out what gifts you have for one another so that you may exchange them before going your separate ways.”[4] Such verbal hospitality is a form of loving one another. It’s the way we share life experiences, thus caring for people by learning their stories and practicing the “one anothers” of Scripture. 

“How rich is anyone who can simply see human faces,” said Corrie ten Boom.[5] She was right, especially as applied to our age of digital technology, media saturation, and personal isolation, especially during a pandemic. Quality conversation in the context of genuine Christian community is the antidote to such trends of depersonalization. As C. S. Lewis said, true friendship is born when one person says to another, “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . . .”[6] Loneliness is thus pushed back in the course of dialog, and the image of God is lived out through us as we do life together. Conversation, then, fulfills the image of God in us, even as it serves to deliver God’s good gifts to us.

Why Good Conversation Can Be Challenging

As already noted, I’m introvert. I say this by way of description, not by way of excuse. I simply tend to focus my attention on the inner world of my own ideas and impressions. It’s a natural preference for me, and it always has been. Conversation, then, sometimes pulls me out of my comfort zone and into a world of apprehension. As McEntyre observes, “To ‘converse’ originally meant to live among or together, or to act together, to foster community, to commune with. It was a large verb that implied public, cooperative, and deliberate action. When we converse, we act together toward a common end, and we act upon one another.”[7] Ouch again. Introverts don’t like being acted upon.

When I was young, my imagination was my favorite toy. Consequently, I came across to others as distant, aloof, and sometimes even arrogant—largely because I spent most of my time in my own thought world. Playing around in the sandbox of my own mind was fun, and it still is. Taken to the extreme, however, introversion can be a rank form of selfishness. Others need to be heard, and I need to listen, but that takes energy and concentration. As McEntyre notes, “A good conversationalist directs attention, inspires, corrects, affirms, and empowers others. It is a demanding vocation that involves attentiveness, skilled listening, awareness of one’s own interpretative frames, and a will to understand and discern what is true.”[8]

On the very first performance evaluation for my entry level job out of college, I received high marks and good feedback in every are except one. My boss said, “You’re not a very good listener.” She was right. Two dynamics were at work in those days. First, if I ever heard an interesting thought or idea from an external source, my mind would secretly “run with it” to new and deeper places in the moment, causing me to miss other elements of the conversation. 

Second, if I ever heard a banal thought or idea from an external source, I would quietly realize that what was going on in my own head at the time was much more interesting, again causing me to miss other elements of the conversation. Consequently, I was never seen as “a people person.” In fact, my own dear mother, upon hearing my announcement that I was going to be a pastor, said with utter incredulity, “You???” She was shocked.

Truth be told, there was a third dynamic at work in those days, and it was the same family of origin issue I’ve struggled with my whole life—a tendency toward perfectionism. That was a coping mechanism I utilized to help calm the troubled waters at home. I was determined to earn parental approval, but I seemingly fell short every time. For a sensitive kid like me, that feeling of failure was a recurring source of pain and disappointment. Sadly, it wound up affecting numerous areas of my life, and the sting of it lingers to this day. 

Along with everything else in our lives, perfectionists have to converse perfectly, too. That feels threatening. “What if I say something wrong?” “What if I say something stupid?” “What if I say something that doesn’t go over well in a group?” As a result of this fear, patterns of isolation developed early in life. Even into my twenties and early thirties, those patterns were there and seemed to be set in stone. I could say of myself, in the words of Simon and Garfunkel, “I am a rock.”

A winter’s day
In a deep and dark December
I am alone
Gazing from my window to the streets below
On a freshly fallen silent shroud of snow

I am a rock
I am an island

I’ve built walls
A fortress deep and mighty
That none may penetrate
I have no need of friendship
Friendship causes pain
It’s laughter and it’s loving I disdain

I am a rock
I am an island

Don’t talk of love
But I’ve heard the words before
It’s sleeping in my memory
I won’t disturb the slumber of feelings that have died
If I never loved I never would have cried

I am a rock
I am an island

I have my books
And my poetry to protect me
I am shielded in my armor
Hiding in my room
Safe within my womb
I touch no one and no one touches me

I am a rock
I am an island

And a rock feels no pain
And an island never cries

Simon said it was his most neurotic song ever. 

A related aversion I have to conversation is connected to the internal struggle I experience whenever someone is overly domineering or acting like a “word hog” in discourse. (That aversion is likely connected to my family of origin issues, too, as my dad could be quite intimidating.) I tend to be much more persuaded by logic, substance, and good argumentation than by mere volume, emotion, or trivia. One interesting fellow comes to mind in this regard. Bob (not his real name) has a lot of volume and copious gesticulations to go with his big words, myriad insults, and theatrical pronouncements of useless information. Nevertheless, he thinks he’s clever. Most of us, however, think he has a lot more to be humble about than he realizes. If I ever write his biography, it might be titled, The Lucubrations of a Loquacious Ultracrepidarian, just to illustrate the point. People like Bob tend to make me clam up, and I haven’t learned yet how to deal with them in a healthy way. I have a lot to be humble about, too.

What I Need from God to Improve My Conversation

Despite these personal challenges, I know I need to “stay in conversation,” which means I need to stay in community. As Charles Colson once said, “Though I know intellectually how vulnerable I am to pride and power, I am the last one to know when I succumb to their seduction. That’s why spiritual Lone Rangers are so dangerous—and why we must depend on trusted brothers and sisters who love us enough to tell us the truth.”[9]

Consequently, what I need from God is grace to overcome the feeling that I need to “perform” while talking, thinking that every statement I make in a conversation is being evaluated by others. Without that grace, I could easily revert to those days of being “a rock” or an “island.” But it’s far better to be vulnerable than to be isolated. The last thing this world needs is another neurotic introvert.

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[1] Marilyn McEntyre, Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009), 87-110.

[2] Ibid., 88.

[3] William T. Ham, “Candles of the Lord” in Spiritual Renewal through Personal Groups, John L. Casteel, ed. (New York: Association Press, 1957) 169. 

[4] McEntyre, Caring for Words, 95.

[5] Corrie ten Boom, Elizabeth Sherrill, and John Sherril, The Hiding Place (Grand Rapids: Chosen Books, 1971, 1984, 2006), 165.

[6] C. S. Lewis, The Four Loves (New York: HarperOne; 1960, 2017), 113.

[7] McEntyre, Caring for Words, 89.

[8] Ibid.

[9] As cited in Kathi Lipp, Praying God’s Word for Your Life (Grand Rapids: Revell, 2013), 67.

Purpose and Pleasure: Partners in Finding and Navigating Our Vocation in Life

Eric Liddell famously said to his sister in Chariots of Fire, “I believe that God made me for a purpose—for China. But he also made me fast. And when I run, I feel his pleasure.” While the screenplay is likely embellished (or even apocryphal) at that point, the line is rich and insightful. There the “Flying Scotsman” articulates an elusive and hard-to-describe aspect of calling (or “vocation”). 

Liddell’s insight was this: Whenever people live out their divine purpose, they tend to sense God’s blessing and affirmation in the process, even if there are deep struggles along the way. As David wrote in Psalm 16:11, “You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.” David, of course, was no stranger to trouble. On more than one occasion, the spears of King Saul whizzed past his ear, twanging into the wallboards of the place where he was hiding at the time.

It is significant that David connects being in God’s presence to being filled with joy, not groveling in the dust as a miserable sinner before an angry, implacable God. While epochal moments in redemptive history sometimes require dramatic theophanies for prophetic or revelatory reasons (cf. Exod 19:18-19, 40:34; Isa 6:1-5; Matt 17:5-6; Acts 2:1-4), God has a track record of delighting his people, not debilitating them. 

As such, I have slightly adjusted Liddell’s observation to make it my own: “When I learn, I feel his pleasure.” That’s one of the reasons it’s such a joy for me to be a teaching pastor and a seminary professor. It seems that God has made me for this. My calling can often be difficult, but it aligns well with how I’m wired. And if others can learn a few things along the way because I learned them earlier—whether in life or in libraries—so much the better. Such a venture has filled me with joy in the past, and it continues to do so today. 

Thare’s a caution, however, that’s never far from my thoughts in this regard: “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up” (1 Corinthians 8:1b). Our calling, then, must encompass the good of others, not just ourselves. That makes sense theologically because we’re relational beings, made in the image of God—the One who is true comm-unity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). But, oh, what a challenge to see our lives and calling in connection to others. I can be awfully selfish sometimes; how about you?

Our calling must encompass the good of others, not just ourselves. 

I’m not sure I could articluate an inviolable or unassailable personal mission statement, but I do know that God is inviting me to embody his beauty, truth, and goodness as a pastor-scholar in the 21st-century church of Jesus Christ so that others can discover their lofty status and calling as image bearers of God—reveling in the good news of his redeeming grace. 

This “reveling” by others can take myriad forms, but the common core is culture-making that leads to human flourishing in this life, whatever joys the next life may hold. Historian Will Durant once wrote, “Civilization is social order promoting cultural creation. Four elements constitute it: economic provision, political organization, moral traditions, and the pursuit of knowledge and the arts. It begins where chaos and insecurity end.” 

My own calling is part of the “social order” of which Durant speaks, centered mostly in the third element he cites (viz., “moral traditions”)—though grace must always be part of the equation, as moral ideals often collapse under the weight of our own fallenness. If God is not gracious, then all of us are toast in the end.

Indeed, my own particular “tradition,” as Durant uses the term, is one that is Trinitarian, evangelical, and gospel-centered. That is why I seek to help inspire others to overcome their own insecurities and become “fully human,” even as they come to know and enjoy their Creator—the Logos who became human for the sake of love and liberation. As Durant noted, “When fear is overcome, curiosity and constructiveness are free, and [hu]man[ity] passes by natural impulse towards the understanding and embellishment of life.”

Grace must always be part of the equation, as moral ideals often collapse under the weight of our own fallenness.

That sounds to me like purpose and pleasure go together—even if the former leads the latter in priority. Both gravity and gladness can play together nicely in the sandbox of life. Indeed, they must play together nicely, or it’s not even rightly called “life.”

When is it that you most feel God’s pleasure?

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The Blood Covenant, Part 2: Is There Anyone Still Left? (1 Samuel 18:1-4; 2 Samuel 9:1-10)

David and Jonathan enter into a parity covenant, exchanging robes and weapons to signify their bond of loyalty to each other. The covenant they cut includes Jonathan’s young son Mephibosheth, whom David seeks out to bless even after Jonathan dies. Thereafter, Mephibosheth is invited to eat at the king’s table forever, unworthy though he may be. David shows Mephibosheth hesed (loving-kindness) because of his covenant with Jonathan, who served as his son’s covenant representative head.

This historical episode illustrates well the concept of representation. As Jonathan was Mephibosheth’s covenant representative head, so Jesus is the covenant representative head of the entire human race. Moreover, like David looking for Mephibosheth, God is searching for us, wanting to lavish upon us all the riches and blessings that come from being in covenant with him through Christ. He invites us to eat at the King’s table forever, unworthy though we may be. God’s hesed (lovingkindness) now flows to all who acknowledge Jesus by faith as their covenant representative head.

Sermon Resources:

This New Life: A Website Devoted to Biblical Hope and Radical Grace

Welcome to This New Life, a website devoted to biblical hope and radical grace. Thanks for stopping by. We’re Tim and Sonya Valentino. We live in Myerstown, PA, a small town halfway between Reading and Hershey. Both of us are into family, nature, hiking, music, art, history, museums, Christian ministry, theological education, and the Philadelphia Phillies. We’re also into coffee. The darker the better.

We’re on the journey of life with the Author of life. Let’s walk together and marvel at the scenery. As we go, let’s “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). We’ve created This New Life as a resource to help with that endeavor. We also write to clarify our own thinking. And laugh at ourselves.

On this site we try to provide a balance of content creation and content curation. Creation refers to the materials we generate ourselves. Curation refers to the materials that other people publish and we repost. Our goal for This New Life is simply this: Creation + Curation = Inspiration + Formation. It’s a digital journal, of sorts, chronicling “our life in God’s light,” with others welcome to look in from time to time.

For more information on who we are—personally, vocationally, educationally, theologically, politically, and relationally—check out the About page. For the rest of this post, we’d like to share why biblical hope and radical grace are so important to us.

sunrise-clouds-ocean-horizon

In some ways we’ve lived a privileged life. But in other ways we’ve slept in the emotional gutter from time to time. Life can be challenging like that. One moment things are delightful; the next they’re devastating. Today everything is beautiful; tomorrow everything is broken. Disappointment gives way to disillusionment, and rank cynicism tries to move into the attic of our minds. “Vanity, vanity,” says the Teacher. “All is vanity” (cf. Eccl 1:2).

But there’s one thing that has always kept us going—one thing that has always been an anchor for the soul in troubled times: our unshakable hope in the grace and goodness of God. Jesus is risen from the dead, and that changes everything. Hope refuses to die in a world where Christ has conquered death.

Hope refuses to die in a world where Christ has conquered death.

Ask the average Christian why Jesus came to earth, and you’ll get a variety of answers:

  • Jesus came to die for the sins of the world.
  • Jesus came to reveal the heart of the Father.
  • Jesus came to destroy the power of death and hell.
  • Jesus came to heal, teach, and forgive.

These responses are all accurate. Still, there’s another color on the palette to paint with. Jesus himself answered the question this way: “The Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19:10). That’s a beautiful, hope-filled statement, and it thrills the heart of anyone who’s ever been able to say, “I once was lost but now am found.”

We can say it. Jesus came to seek and to save the two of us. We revel in this good news—and the new life it brings. “Because I live,” said Jesus, “you also will live” (John 14:19).

man-field-sunburst

But how did Jesus go about seeking the lost? What was his approach? Luke 7:34 says, “The Son of Man came eating and drinking.” That’s a fascinating statement. How would you have filled in the blank? The Son of Man came ____________ and ____________.

  • Teaching and preaching?
  • Healing and forgiving?
  • Loving and restoring?
  • Dying and rising?

Again, all true answers, but the text says, “The Son of Man came eating and drinking.” Fellowship and hospitality were his modus operandi. In fact, a major feature of Luke’s Gospel is that Jesus is usually going to a meal, at a meal, or coming from a meal. Every time we turn the page, we smell another dish from the kitchen. Markus Barth has said, “In approximately one-fifth of the sentences in Luke, meals play a conspicuous role.”

A major feature of Luke’s Gospel is that Jesus is usually going to a meal, at a meal, or coming from a meal. Every time we turn the page, we smell another dish from the kitchen.

But does that sound like a holy man to you—more feasting than fasting? More parties than protests? What kind of a rabbi is this? Indeed, the rap on Jesus was that he was “a drunkard and a glutton,” a man more into parties than piety, or so it seemed to the religious crowd (cf. Luke 7:34b).

jesus-upper-room-bread-communion

A drunkard is someone who drinks too much alcohol. A glutton is someone who eats too much food. Jesus was neither of those things—the Bible says he never sinned—but apparently he gave his enemies enough ammunition to make the charge stick.

It stuck, not because he was eating and drinking per se, but because he was eating and drinking with all the wrong people—the blind, the lame, the diseased, the prostitutes, the thieves, the criminals, the tax collectors, the unfaithful, the ceremonially unclean—“sinners” who were as low as you could go on the religious food chain.

Not only that—and we may need to swallow hard on this—there’s no record that these folks ever had to “repent” before they could come and eat at Jesus’ table. The fact that they came at all, and ate and enjoyed his welcome, apparently was repentance enough for him. Many of them changed after eating at Jesus’ table—precisely because they had had a life-transforming encounter with him.

There’s no record that these folks ever had to repent before they could come and eat at Jesus’ table. The fact that they came at all . . . was repentance enough for him.

The word for that is grace. Amazing grace. Radical grace. Scandalous grace. Even Peter—the lead disciple who had walked with Jesus for three years and received the keys to the kingdom—needed a lot of it. Over and over again.

Even after the great day of Pentecost, when he was filled with the Holy Spirit and preached to thousands of people, Peter blew it. Again. For example, Peter once broke fellowship with people whom God had accepted—a clear denial of the gospel—and it needed to be corrected lest the good news become ugly news (cf. Gal 2:11-21; 1:6-9).

Thankfully, Peter never gave up. Throughout his life and ministry, Peter received grace every time he needed it. Such is the ministry of reconciliation that Jesus came to bring. Religion parcels out grace in teaspoons to those it perceives to be worthy. Jesus lavishes it on those who know they need it.

Religion parcels out grace in teaspoons to those it perceives to be worthy. Jesus lavishes it on those who know they need it.

jesus-upper-room-footwashing

But the grace that Jesus gave to people was a little too much for the religious bureaucrats in the first century. Tim Chester has said, “In Luke’s Gospel Jesus got himself killed because of the way he ate.” It’s true. Before Jesus ever picked up the cross, he picked up the fork. In fact, the one led to the other. Jesus died, in part, because of grace. For some folks, his grace was a little too amazing.

Before Jesus ever picked up the cross, he picked up the fork. In fact, the one led to the other.

Grace means that no believer can ever feel smug. Every time we take Communion, we sit at Jesus’ table, too. Do we deserve to be there? Of course not. Like Mephibosheth at King David’s palace (cf. 2 Samuel 9), we come to Jesus’ table as guests, and by invitation only. All are welcome there, and none are excluded unless they refuse to come by faith.

And that’s why the two of us are really into biblical hope and radical grace. We need it. We love it. We want to share it. It’s changing our lives, and it can change yours, too. “Go, stand in the temple courts,” he said, “and tell the people the full message of this new life” (Acts 5:20).

Sure thing, Lord. The privilege is ours.

leaf-green-water-drops-ladybugs