God, Grace, & Government

Ouch. I didn’t pick a sneaky title, I just went straight for the jugular – I am talking about God and Government all in one fell swoop! Some people will see that title and ignore me. They won’t want to hear what I think about politics considering they are averse to anything of the sort (and that’s not really what I am writing about anyway). But those of you who decided to see what I have to say, sit back and let’s talk! After all, that’s what a blog is for, right – so we can engage in conversation that most people don’t really want to be part of but we insist on sharing our thoughts anyway!?

So here goes…

It all begins with grace. That’s it. Sorry to let you down. Especially those who know I have a tendency to get a little sassy when I talk about my opinions. That is not the direction I will take today. Today is more about saving relationships in this heated time we find ourselves in as a nation.

I have a friend. She and I have different moral matrices (according to ZDoggMd and Dr. John Haight *see video below) and hold differing views about God and Government. Despite our differences, we love one another and have had a friendship that has been forged by commonalities, life milestones (some heartbreaking, others exciting), and time. As of recent, we found ourselves in the midst of a conflict that revolved around the need to be understood, each by the other, the subject matter involving politics which we both feel very strongly about. After several minutes of back and forth, we had recognized we were at an impasse and needed to step away from the conversation. We said all we could say, and we were most likely only going to hurt one another more deeply if we didn’t step away. I have to admit, she made the first move to stop the conversation and allowed me the last word, for that I am grateful as I tend to fight to the end with every intention of reconciling, not necessarily winning.

This is probably a scenario many people face – especially during this season where so many of us have differing views about how things should be. There is no better time to operate out of that place of grace than right now. When engaging in conversation about God or Government & politics, everything must be seasoned with grace. I do believe that is what Jesus wanted. And we see it time and again in Paul’s letters to the churches of the New Testament. He always begins each letter bestowing the grace and peace of God through Christ Jesus before he delves into conversation.

So what does grace look like when it comes to God and Government:

Grace looks like stepping back from a conversation that has no real bearing on eternal destiny.

Grace looks like choosing words that do not cut or intentionally create anger. Only using words to uplift and edify. (ouch, I am preaching to the choir with my quick tongue – please forgive me)

Grace looks like being willing to see another person’s perspective and be ok if you don’t agree with their narrative.

Grace looks like understanding that people are searching for answers and calling them idiots because they do not have them is NOT the answer.

Grace looks like making an effort to understand your own views and not just touting a party line (remember we are talking about politics here) because it’s all you’ve ever known – ignorance is not bliss, it is lazy (and yes, I said that with as much gracefulness as I could muster – even Paul in his letters was intense in his debates to convince people that their ways were foolish – read our Galatians Devos to see him in action).

Grace looks like believing the best in others, including yourself.

Grace looks like confidence in recognizing your faults without cowering under the pressure to disregard those beliefs because someone doesn’t agree with you. (This requires actively pursuing grace in all of those other areas up there, so be mindful)

We are in what is most likely the most volatile political climate felt by our generation. The things happening in our world are not the worst things that have ever happened in history – countless lives are lost in every generation because of the carelessness of mankind. But, for our generation and those younger, we have not experienced the level of division and discord being felt currently. We have got to rise up and be willing to have conversation without the desire to decimate our “opponent”. That has never gotten humanity anywhere! Braving grace regarding God and Government may be a daunting task but extending God’s grace is the only way we will survive what is ahead of us without destroying relationship with others. And that is really the only true eternal currency in God’s kingdom – people. Neither Donald Trump, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Mike Pence, or any other government official have the power or the money to infiltrate the very being of mankind, that right is reserved for the Creator. That knowledge should give us all a starting point to braving grace during the next several months of social media craziness and the conversations we will have & hear regarding God and Government.


*P.S. This is an excellent video discussing the psychology behind why we have conflict and how to navigate in it well. Disclaimer: I am not promoting the author/speaker outside of this specific video. I am not to be held responsible for individual perception of said resource or it’s effects on the viewer. It is not meant for furthering biblical studies, but solely addresses human behavior.

Courageous Conversation

Many years ago I taught in the secondary grades. So mostly 7th – 12th graders. Those years where most people say, “I don’t know how you do it; I could never spend my day surrounded by teenagers!” Well, someone has to do it, and I was thankful that God could use me with such a great age group.

As in most school settings, teachers work together in teams. This serves a lot of purpose, one of which being the opportunity to bring balance to individual student needs – not all students interact with all teachers equally and everyone needs an advocate from time to time. As in the case of one young person who was struggling with his social, personal, and educational position in life. I can remember sitting in a room with him and two other teachers, I am pretty sure he was slightly inebriated, and one of the teachers asked him, “Son, what do you want to with your life?” I can remember at that very moment thinking to myself, “What does he want to do with his life? The kid is just trying to sleep off an obvious hangover, and you’re asking him what he wants to do with his life!?!”

I knew that condemnation walked into the room when we pushed that sentiment on that young man. I knew he had no clue what he wanted to do with his life because he didn’t feel valuable.

The words we speak in our relationships can bear a lot of weight. The way we approach conflict can come across with a heaviness of condemnation if we are not careful to start with grace. Our job in our relationships, even as much as we want to think it is, is not to change other people. Only God can change people. If our words do not carry the weight of God’s words they have more opportunity to hurt. Instead of getting people to focus on what they don’t do right, get them to focus on what He did right when He created them.

Several days after meeting with that student, and enough time for his hangover to wear off, I met with him again and reminded him what a valuable person he was. I told him that he was created with purpose, and that if he could believe he was valuable, that would take him further than if he knew what he wanted to do with his life.

There will be so many times in life when we need to encourage someone we love that things will be ok, even if we don’t have answers in the natural. Being brave in our relationships means speaking to the truth of what God says, and not what the natural circumstances might say. It may look like someone is hopeless, but speaking to their hope is much more valuable. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

If there is one relationship where you know you need to brave grace with your words, just try it. Even if it feels foreign to address truth instead of addressing behavior, don’t be afraid to embrace the courage it takes to speak a better word.

Braving Grace in Relationship

Something that hit me the other day is that grace is NOT a Fruit of the Spirit. Grace is in fact the very essence of God, the very nature of Jesus Christ, the absolutely embodiment of the Holy Spirit. If it is in Him we live and move and have our being, then it is likely that the entire reason we need to embrace this radical grace is in order to live at peace with people. That doesn’t mean our interactions with people will always feel warm and fuzzy, but it means we do need to find a way to “live at peace with all men” as much as it depends on our part. Finding peace sometimes means confrontation, and too many times we will shirk away from those moments because we don’t truly understand how to navigate ourselves when there is tension.

In our relationships Braving Grace might look something like this:

Regardless of who is right or who is wrong, we need to determine in our hearts to allow people to be people. I know when I am wrong I appreciate when someone allows me the opportunity to be heard. When we allow others to be real it opens doors to healing in our hearts and in many cases even our physical bodies. That doesn’t mean it won’t get ugly, consider the pruned tree in all of its ugliness. That pruning down to ugly gives way to something more beautiful. That should always be our outlook when dealing with confrontation or difference, that something beautiful can burst forth if we can get past the discomfort of disagreement.

It is very possible our relationships will face some discomfort at times. That is why it is so important to understand grace.

If you find yourself in relational discomfort today ask yourself where you could brave grace with the other person. Where do you need to put trust in the gap? Where do you need to give the benefit of the doubt? Where do you maybe need to see that other person the way Jesus sees them?

I’d love to hear from you! Share your thoughts in the comments below. Or visit our daily devotional to learn more about walking in grace.

Be encouraged. Brave Grace.



You Are the Church

Don’t mistake your identity as the church for what it means to “assemble together”. Don’t wait to “go back to church,” YOU ARE THE CHURCH! People always say, “the church isn’t a building” and they are right in saying so! Now is the time to embrace that truth and walk in your identity AS the church! Worship Him anyway – you don’t need a live band to sing to Him. Take communion anyway – you don’t need someone else to hand you the bread and the juice to remember His works. Read your Bible anyway – you don’t need someone else’s eyes to do that for you! And continue pressing in to the amazing ways God has provided for us to connect through distance! Be encouraged! Brave Grace!

31 Days of Grace

Today we are excited to introduce to our family and friends this beautiful message of grace. Several months ago, Mark began writing a devotional based on the Book of Galatians in the Holy Bible. As we studied this book, it became more and more apparent how much courage it must have taken Paul, and the other apostles and followers of Jesus, to walk out this new message of grace – the gospel. To go spread a message to people groups – some Jews, some common people, some followers of the Greek and Roman gods – telling them that the Messiah has come and that it was the only way for people to believe, well I have no doubt that took more courage than we can imagine. To tell the Jews that Jesus was the One they had waited for but now they didn’t have to continue living under the Law of Moses, they didn’t have to earn it; to go to the Gentiles and tell them that they were eligible to believe on that same Jesus; to go to Ephesus and tell them that the gods were not their source of provision; THIS took a faith that can only be found by truly braving grace. Just like we have heard the saying, “oh they are braving the storm,” as we dive into Paul’s letter to the Galatians, and eventually throughout many other books, we will be witnessing what it truly looks like to brave grace. So head over to Day 1 in our devotional and engage with us on social media or in the comments and share your thoughts and testimonies as you join us here at Braving Grace!


Global Grace

Some time ago, I heard an interview with Joel Houston, Worship Leader for Hillsong Australia.  In his interview he discussed the idea of the Global Church.  I would normally hear something like this and think, “wow, that’s great…it is good to reach out and touch the nations with the Gospel,” after all, that’s what Paul did. I would move on and not give it much more thought, simply because I do not personally feel called to serve on the foreign mission field.  But when I heard him speaking of getting people to understand that the church is not just this small thing rather a huge conglomeration of people all striving for the same goal, I was compelled.  We are all here for a purpose and that is to glorify God in ALL the Earth! 
I started meditating on what the Word says about going out into the world, about ministering.  I started considering the local church.  The local church is just an extension of the Global Church and the Global Church is a beautiful representation of all of creation.  We are created in His image yet we tend to get so caught up in our own image.  We get focused on the image other people see in us.  I believe if we were to start seeing our calling beyond our own forehead we might stop having some of the issues that we face.  I even found myself wondering what it is that makes Hillsong Australia pump out so many hit worship tunes, how do they have church services with thousands upon thousands of people, why are they so influential in the Christian community? Then, putting it into the perspective of what Houston spoke of being the Global Church, I realized it is their grasp of that concept which allows them to be so successful – they have discovered what it means to be THE Church.  I’m sure they have their issues and their situations, but I’m also certain that their foundations consist of a group of people who are able to see beyond themselves and into the real purpose of their calling – to be used by our Savior to save a lost and dying World – to share the radical message of grace, just like the Apostle Paul.  If we were to realize our God-given purpose we’d stop concerning ourselves with worldly issues – repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community (if that doesn’t sound familiar pull out your Bible and look up Galatians 5, I took this from The Message Bible).  Unfortunately, even the local church is riddled with lives that look like this.  Why do we continue to be okay with this in our own lives?  Why are we not aspiring to go global by taking on a more Godly lifestyle – things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity…develop[ing] a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people… find[ing] ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.
I have no doubt if we were to focus more on the World around us and get outside of our own motives and “all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants,” we would see such a change in our personal lives that it would bleed over into our service for Him.

Grace in the Grades

It’s that time of year: Graduation; college admissions; transcript requests; all things end-of-school-year! As I prepare to move forward with my own personal education, I found myself looking at my college transcripts tonight for the first time in probably 20 years. Wow, it evoked some serious emotion that I was not anticipating . The idea that I even have a college degree is absolutely a testimony of God’s grace in this life! (Any of my former high school teachers who may remember me will testify!) While skimming the dates attached to the different semesters I spent in college, the year 1993 was not my finest to say the least. But seeing the grades attached to one particular semester, Spring of 1993, hit me hard. Knowing the stories that were associated to that blip on my timeline, and to each letter F that scars my transcript, were humbling and somewhat embarrassing. Each letter represented a choice I remember making. They were choices made by a girl who had no idea of her true value. A girl I don’t remember as clearly as I remember the outcome of those choices.

But, praise Jesus that despite the embarrassment of those awful transcripts, and a brief moment of shame memories, I was reminded that those days were turned around for God’s best in my life (recalling Romans 8:28) and that they were even redeemed over time; the literal grades themselves were redeemed through grade forgiveness and a little hard work on my part. The stories attached to all of those ugly Fs would prepare me to have grace toward people, even when they have no clue that I can relate to their brokenness. It’s been many years since I have recalled some of those moments of failure. I’ve spent 25 years keeping those moments in a special room of my heart, only recalling them out of necessity to show compassion and grace toward others. I seldom allow the enemy the opportunity to play the shame game with me anymore in regards to those stories. Tonight when I pulled up my transcript, I will admit, a little shame tried to rear it’s ugly head. But, as in so many of those moments over the last 25+ years, I couldn’t help but marvel at how good my God is to me. That young girl from 1993 eventually graduated, not just from college but from a life of shame to a life of grace and confidence in Christ Jesus. And for that, all I can say is, “Amen!”

Grace to Keep Going

Galatians 6:9-10 “So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith. “

There are days where I feel like I am swimming upstream in a fast moving creek and all I can do is tell myself, “you can do this, you can do this!” Our grandmothers would use the old biblical phrase, “this too shall pass.” It is all the same. Trying to keep perspective during the days of hectic chaos – please note it is not just hectic or chaotic; it is hectic chaos, totally different – and it sometimes feels almost impossible. But again, our dear friend Paul reminds us in Galatians 6:9 not to grow weary in doing the things of the Lord because there is a harvest to reap at the end. I don’t know about you but I’m interested in reaping that good harvest. For too many years I reaped a harvest that was no good and I’m excited to see the fruit of good, Godly labor! Even in those moments of weariness there is rest for our souls according to the Gospel of Matthew – “Come to me all you who are weary and heavy burdened and I will give you rest…” You see, God does not hang us out to dry without a solution for our weary sowing. He promises us that He will give us rest. And after we are able to rest in Him we will, in the proper time, experience the satisfaction of a job well done.

So, today when you are at your wits end with the task you are so diligently laboring, remember that He showers abundantly, refreshes His weary loves, and gives strength to the weak. Our God provides all our needs according to His riches in glory….He will give you all that you need so you are able to keep going!