The Blog Post You Need Right Now

Someone asked me the other day, “What is grace?” That one is really hard to define for me because it’s so big! I think grace is a lot of things. Grace is an action. It’s a way of being in relationship. It’s the opposite of shame. It’s the power to transform. Grace is a really big idea because grace is Jesus.

People will often say, “Grace is that Jesus died for you.” But actually, that’s not grace. That’s mercy.

Grace is the essence of our relationship with God. It’s the gift of understanding that you’re a human being so you’re going to mess up. Through His grace, God says, “You’re going to mess up and it’s okay.” Grace is our second chance with Him. And since God is infinite, He gives us infinite second chances.

When we allow grace into our relationships, we give each other the same gift that God gives us. It comes from our hearts. We look at each other and we say, “I know you’re going to mess up. I’m going to mess up, too. It’s okay. Let’s talk about it. Let’s try to understand how we affect each other. And then let’s work through it.”

Suppose a friend or someone in your family says something to you that you don’t like. Maybe they say something mean to you, or maybe you just take it the wrong way. Either way, you react. You get angry, or you get hurt. Or both!

Grace moves in and says, “Hold on! That person needs grace from you.” Grace shows you what your relationship needs. It shows you that sometimes your family and friends need you to step aside and say, “You affected me deeply by that comment. It’s okay. Let’s take a timeout. Let’s talk about it. Can you explain what you meant by that? I don’t want to get wounded or react to you in anger.”

Grace also moves in when you don’t take that timeout. Sometimes a friend or someone in your family says something to you and you react immediately. We all react out of our wounds sometimes. You know what? It’s okay. Grace shows your friends and family how to look at you and say, “Hold on. You reacted very quickly to what I said. What did you hear me say? Let’s talk about it.”

If what they said is truly what you heard, and it still hurts you, then grace shows them how to say, “I’m sorry. How could I have said it differently?”

If you misunderstood what they said, then grace says, “Let’s take time and open up to each other. I would like to be able to explain what I said because what you heard is not what I meant.”

So you see, grace to me is such a very big thing. It’s so rewarding to live in it. Don’t get me wrong. It’s very hard to do. I mean, most things are not black and white.

Sometimes we need grace in order to say, “Hold on, I love you, and I’m going to let that one go.” Other times we need grace in order to say, “I love you, and I’m willing to let that go. But we need to talk about it because I want to tell you how it affected me.”

I need grace when my children are acting out and making mistakes or getting in trouble. I look at them and say, “Look, I don’t want you to do that again. I’m going to extend grace to you right here and now. I’m going to tell you why I don’t want you to do that again. Then if you do it again, I’m going to give you a discipline. But right now, I want to talk through why it’s not okay to do that. That way, if you do it again and you are disciplined, you’ll understand why.”

I don’t want to just say to my boys, “You did something wrong so go to your room.” I want them to understand that their words and actions affect me and other people. I don’t want them to go to their room with no idea why they’re being sent there.

This is grace in action. It’s being in relationship with an understanding that there are always going to be second chances. Grace is liberating. Grace is without judgment. Grace is without condemnation. When the Bible says there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus, it is saying that there is grace.

Saying there is no condemnation is not the same as saying, “Do whatever you want.” No. Saying there is no condemnation is saying, “Now there is grace. You are going to mess up, but it’s okay. You get grace.”

 

 

Life After Baseball

A few weeks ago, I was invited to speak at the Commonwealth Club of California. Over time, I’ll transcribe this and comment it, but for now, I thought you’d enjoy a vlog.

Let me know what you think!

See you Friday.

Hanging with Jesus in the Room of Grace

Jesus went across to Mount Olives, but he was soon back in the Temple again. Swarms of people came to him. He sat down and taught them.

The religion scholars and Pharisees led in a woman who had been caught in an act of adultery. They stood her in plain sight of everyone and said, “Teacher, this woman was caught red-handed in the act of adultery. Moses, in the Law, gives orders to stone such persons. What do you say?” They were trying to trap him into saying something incriminating so they could bring charges against him.

Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger in the dirt. They kept at him, badgering him. He straightened up and said, “The sinless one among you, go first: Throw the stone.” Bending down again, he wrote some more in the dirt.

Hearing that, they walked away, one after another, beginning with the oldest. The woman was left alone. Jesus stood up and spoke to her. “Woman, where are they? Does no one condemn you?”

“No one, Master.”

“Neither do I,” said Jesus. “Go on your way. From now on, don’t sin.” John 8:1-11

Hanging in the room of grace, I’m starting to see a lot of things. I’m starting to see how this story is possible.

Neither do IIn the past, I have always wondered how this could have happened. Jesus was the Son of God. How is it possible that He did not condemn a woman caught in sin, actually caught while committing the act? How could He just look at her and say, “Yeah, I’m not going to accuse you. I think you already know that it wasn’t right what you did, so I’m not going to accuse you. But stop sinning. You need to stop.”

Now, since I’ve been hanging in the room of grace, I have the ability to see why Jesus treated the woman this way. The Son of God did not look at sinners and say, “Oh, I cannot be around this!” I can see that He loved being around sinners. I can see why sinners loved being around Him. He was in the room of grace, and because of that, when He looked at people He said, “They’re human beings. And they’re going to have these problems. It’s part of life. Even when they accept me as their Savior, even when they accept that I died for them, they’re still going to have these problems.” Jesus knew that!

Paul wrote about it in his letter to the Romans, and he is so honest! Romans is so good to read when you start learning about grace and trust in relationships. In Chapter 7 he asks, “Why do I always do what I don’t want to do, and what I want to do, I don’t do?” We know the answer before he tells us. It’s because he lives in his flesh!

But nowhere in Scripture can I find anything about the redemption of the flesh. Nowhere does the Bible say that Jesus died to change our flesh. He died so we can live by the Spirit. He knew we’d still experience problems in our flesh.

Hanging in the room of grace, I have started to realize that I can live in a trusting relationship with people. I can trust them that they are who they are. They can trust that I am who I am. We can trust each other, we can love on each other, and we can encourage each other. We don’t have to perform to be liked.

It’s so freeing to get into relationships where you don’t have to perform to be liked. It’s so freeing to know that you are liked just because. Someone likes you and loves you, just as you are. And when that happens, you begin to see people as Jesus sees us. You know that flesh will always be flesh. You can stop trying to hide that behind a mask.

More on that point next time. See you Thursday.

Taking the Wrong and Putting it Right

Recently, I’ve been reflecting on the different ways that the hot water of the Spirit can transform our relationships. When you replace judgment with encouragement, your relationships will transform. And you will transform with them. You will learn to better reflect Christ in all that you do.

For example, I reflected last time on parenting in ways that keep your children feeling safe in their relationship with you. If you can discipline without judgment, your children will continue to come to you and talk to you. This is your opportunity to better reflect Jesus with them. Continue reading

Intimacy and Judgment with Children

Last time I wrote about how the the Spirit can transform your intimate relationships. I used the example of approaching your spouse with an attitude of encouragement instead of criticism. How much more can you accomplish if you take the same attitude with your children?

I want a safe environment for dialogue with my kids. I want my kids to be able to talk to me without fear.

“Hey dad, I messed up.”

“What did you do?”

“Well, I was speeding. I got a ticket.”

“Right. So what are we going to do about that? Let’s talk about it.” Continue reading

You Can’t Change Others

I’ve been writing a lot about the lesson of the copper pipe and the way that it has liberated me from my judgments. Now I look at all the people in my life, including myself, as more or less the same. In our flesh, we’re all copper pipes. In our flesh, we all sin. We might deal with different sins, and we might deal with our sins in different ways, but we are all sinning. No one is better than another.

I’ve also written that copper pipes never change. We will never change, not on our own. But Jesus can change us. By running through us like hot water, Jesus heats us up with the wisdom of the Spirit. We can’t change ourselves, but in Him, we can be changed. Continue reading

Judging the Non-Believer

Have you heard comments like these?

“You Christian people think you’re better than us. Christians judge everything everybody does.”

“It’s the Christians who are always saying, ‘Oh my gosh, you’re doing this, you’re bad.’”

People who don’t even know me will look at me and say, “Don’t you make mistakes? Don’t you have flaws?”

Well, of course I do! Continue reading