Friday, August 31, 2012


I might be one of those guys that movie makers target with potty humor. If I apologize, can we still be friends?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Enjoy Your Treasure

Is there a place or two that when you visit, you come alive?  Maybe it’s a distance away, like a vibrant meadow or a mountain view or a breeze that brings the scent of the ocean to you.  Or perhaps it’s nearby, like a certain chair in the early morning or a walk through the neighborhood.

One of mine is an emerald pool on a secret river near Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  Since the late 60’s, I have been wading through its long, slow waters and scanning the currents and sinister snags as I hunt what lies within it.  The very moment I enter the water I find myself sighing deeply in welcome and relief.  It’s as if the Divine Masseuse has begun gently massaging the cares and deep anxieties that have knotted me up, and made me rigid and mechanical. 

I don’t like Ralph The Rigid and Mechanical.  He’s a fake.  But somehow I can be held captive by him—a sort of hostage from myself.  But not in the river.  I get myself back.

There is a better way that brings me back to life, and I don’t have far to go to find it.

Years ago God worked in such a way that I discovered Him to be the greatest treasure.  Not simply because of His value, supreme as it is, but because of what happened to me when treasuring Him.  I wasn’t simply dazzled by what I found, like a pirate after lifting the lid on a booty box; the radiance filled me and affected me!  I was filled with the Spirit—God Himself—and I became the best Ralph possible.  My Treasure treasured me!  I was forever changed—and hooked on Treasure.

After that no commands to obey or tithe or pray or read or witness were really necessary, having been made superfluous by the one:  Enjoy your treasure.  It happened again this morning when, resisting the impulses to read the newspaper or to turn on my computer, I turned my thoughts to Him.  “Father, I need you. What are you thinking about today?”

It didn’t take long before the stone moved and there He was:  Treasure.  As a result, Ralph The Rigid and Mechanical vanished, driven away after a simple gaze.

"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.” (Mt 13:44)

The next time you’ve lost your way, resist the urge to drive faster in order to get where you’re going.  Instead, get off the common avenue, if only for a minute or two, and return to your treasure.  He will dazzle you back to yourself.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

It Is Finished

“It is finished” didn’t mean ‘until you sin some more, and then you’ve got to re-start the heavy burden, accountability and repentant lifestyle all over again to make sure everything is cool between you and me.’ Right? It meant that after THIS, you’re going to live out of what I’ve done and given to you, because there’s nothing MORE. Okay? You’ve got it all, and it’s all really good!

And I’m giving you the Spirit—He’s really good with of all this—to remind you and convince you that I meant what I said. That’s THE PLAN. So say it with me: “It is finished!” How about in spit-filled German: “Es ist vollbracht!” In Spanish: “¡Consumado es!” In Greek: “Tetelestai!” In French: “Il est terminé!” In Croatian: “Svršeno je!” In Swedish: “Det är fullbordat!” And in Afrikaans: “Dit is volbring!”

This has been good, and I think we’re done for today. I love you. See you tomorrow. (Check out John 19:30 for more. Just sayin'.)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Grace Crowds

(Fortunately for us, there are some great "wordsmiths" online, men and women who have a gift with the truth and of writing it in an excellent way. One of them is John P. Cwynar. The man is amazing. Here's an example I think you'll enjoy.)

"Grace Crowds"

There are crowds... and then there are crowded crowds.

Some crowds are crowded crowds... lots of pushing... shoving... crowding. Crowded crowds are made up of crowded people with crowded thoughts... and crowded emotions... crowded relationships... all trying to head in one direction... all trying to get to the head of the crowded crowd.

But the harder you push in the crowded crowd... the harder the crowded crowd pushes back... and everyone finds themselves heading in the wrong direction... going where they really don't want to go.

You see... the crowded crowd takes on a life and direction of its own... so when you do manage to get to the head of the crowded crowd... all you find for all the push and shove and crowding... is you've ended up exactly where you did not want to be.

But then there are Grace crowds. Grace crowds are uncrowded crowds. Now, there may still be some crowded crowding going on at times... when the crowd forgets which crowd it is part of.

But, what this crowd practices is reverse crowding... they crowd you in front of them. There may still be some pushing and shoving... but it is in the form of encouragement. In this crowd... it is everyone's job to crowd you ahead of them... provide help and support to get to your desired destination.

Now the reason this crowd exists... is because of the biggest crowd Crowder of all times. Jesus crowded to the head of the line... just when it was supposed to be my turn... your turn... at the last minute... He pushed you and me out of line. He took our place... took what was coming to us... took our death... turned it into new life.

Now Grace crowding is all about crowding around Him in a most uncrowded way. Each one in these beautiful Grace crowds... has immediate access to His uncrowded crowded throne. Soon beautiful Grace crowds will come from every corner of the earth to join in uncrowded worship of the King of uncrowded crowds.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Grace To All

As long as we believe that God is punishing us or “paying us back” with violent storms and death-causing calamity for the sins we’ve committed, we will not rest confidently in Christ—not really—and all that He did, nor will we long enjoy the genuine, non-condemning, compelling love of God to those failing to measure up and behave well. We will still be playing the “blame game” as a means of judging God’s behavior toward us and why bad things happen. He’s not playing that game. Bad things happen because this is a comparatively hellish existence to the one we will enter when once we lay aside these bodies—and we long for that. For now, the cross of Christ and the blood of the New Covenant prevail.

Because of Jesus, grace to everyone!

“. . .God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their sins against them. . .” 2 Corinthians 5:19

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Looking To Do Something Patriotic?

As we draw near to our election of a new President, I offer this as an example of timely, true and stellar patriotism.  As of yet, I fall short.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Glory Now In You

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”  Romans 8:18

When you receive Jesus, He brings all that He is—perfect love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control—not eventually, not occasionally, but at all times, at every moment, in every situation. Now. He is the Treasure you’ve been looking for, the Reward for which you long, the Performer you’d like to be. And He is in you. Jesus is the favor you want, the success you were made for, and the glory now in you.

If, just now, you’re suffering or enduring hardship, avoid the temptation to work up more fleshly strength (you’re already exhausted), and beware the thoughts that assign you to the failed scrapheap of humanity. That’s a lie. His glory, the incredible evidence that He lives within you, is best seen through suffering, most obvious in calamity, and most triumphant in hardship. Offer yourself to Jesus. And where is He? That’s where you make the offering—to the inside (Rom 6:12-13), to Jesus who has made you His home.

Listen for Him. This is worth quieting yourself. Pay attention to the thoughts and pictures that play in your mind. Talk aloud to Jesus—you may get reckless or even loud—as you give yourself to Him. You’ll find that He gives Himself to you, and that’s where the life is! Respond to what you feel and what He reveals, and trust that He loves you far more than He cares about mistakes you might make in the adventure of knowing Him. If He knows everything, even before it happens, then He knows and has planned for your supposed sloppiness. He doesn’t resent your neediness! That’s also where His glory is best seen.

Have a great weekend walking in the adventure.

“For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body.” 2 Corinthians 4:6-11

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Made For Jesus

I am made for Jesus and His performance with me and through me. Actually, it’s the thrill of my days. And I know that by myself I can do nothing, but I often don’t like the evidence that proves it. Once I see past the evidence (relative rubble), however, Jesus with me and Jesus in me is again my favorite joy. That’s a major, “Oh, yeah” moment.

(I’m sure that somewhere on the bottom of my personality-revealing foot, there’s an old inscription: “Made In Heaven.”)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Letter For Today?

Has anyone ever been bugged with you—really steamed—and not wanted to listen to you because you say that God has withheld His favor from you, even a smidgeon, but you believe you can earn His favor by doing something really holy? Has anyone ever contacted you to tell you that you’re a hair follicle away from being stupid because you believe that God has held back blessing from you, but there’s a way you can get right with God and induce Him to open the windows of His otherwise locked storehouse? If so, then you’re amongst today’s Galatian church, a growing congregation! Congratulations. At least you know where you fit in.

(Now go read the book of Galatians, and find where you’ve been duped. Paul wrote a letter with your name on it, and the essential message is: Through Christ, you’ve been given absolutely everything with God for entirely nothing from you! Relax! Get used to being on the receiving end of things with God. That’s how He is with you.)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Sin Is The Enemy of Love

I suspect that many of us find Mark’s comment (below) relevant and powerful because we’ve found that, most of the time, “hate the sin” has been more prevalent and obvious than “love the sinner.”  We bear the pain that proves it.

But if we see sin as something that injures and effects us deeply, and which bothers God’s determination that we should become familiar with His love, then we can hate it in a way that exalts and prefers love and the experience of it, while blaming sin as the enemy of love.  I think that’s what Jude had in mind when, by the Holy Spirit, he wrote:

Jude 1:21 Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. 22 Be merciful to those who doubt; 23 snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh. 24 To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— 25 to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Women & Cooking Shows

This isn't an "If" in my house, it's a fact. And why not? Three exceptional women who care about what goes into a meal, and they should watch a cooking show passionlessly? Doesn't happen.

Friday, August 17, 2012


Can I get an "amen"? C'mon now. You know you want to.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

That's All, Folks!

The way we take God’s grace for granted—to mistreat it—is to believe and act in a way that says we have to earn something with God, who thinks He has given us all things already. (See Eph 1:3-10).  Want to bug God?  Try to earn something from Him.  (Good luck.  Bon voyage.)  God’s grace never creates debt; it would cease to be grace and instead become obligation.  God will have none of that.  Not with Abraham and not with you.  (See Romans 4:4-5) 

The apostle Paul got rightfully angry with the Galatian Christians who had fallen away from grace, because they were attempting to earn favor with God by their own behavior.  But they already had perfect favor!  They already had every blessing!  Jesus had given it to them—in full.  To believe otherwise was to believe a lie and to give themselves to it through their efforts.  That’s how people get hurt.  Have you noticed?

Believing that we have to tithe, pray, worship, sing, witness, fast, or love in order to gain favor with God is anti-Christ.  Doing something apart from Jesus in order to get what He presumably failed to secure is not only worthless, it is against the truth.  For the Galatian Christians to add Jewish customs, ceremonies and rule-keeping to a supposed required mix was to put themselves under a curse (Gal 3:10-14), and an insult to Christ.  It was shadow living, even though the reality had come (Col 2:16-17). 

In Him—which is where we are now—we have all things.  That’s the incredible gospel.  That’s the stunning New Covenant.  And that’s why we’re crazy in love with Jesus.

We have it all.  And that’s all, folks.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Dancing In The Light

Many of us succumb to a nearly constant appeal to camouflage ourselves and our experience—to cover over worry and fear and lust and envy with nice clothing and happy faces, which subtly proves that we believe Jesus failed at the cross and resurrection. He didn’t. But don’t miss the point: our view of people does not agree with His—We’re preferring the cover up! And it’s hurting us.

If we believed that Jesus did what He thinks He did, then we wouldn’t cover up—we’d dance about like crazy in the light of what’s true. And perhaps our greatest, most-fun thing to do would be to help everyone see what we see: ourselves and others in the true light of what Jesus did. We’d see His glory.

If we do not choose to know people as Christ has identified them through what He did at the cross and resurrection—yes, it’s invisible, but no less real—then we are crippled and see poorly. Conversely, if we see them as He has made them by His actions, we are made strong through faith because we see clearly.

Feeling feeble lately? Consider what’s captured your effort and view: masks and camouflage, or the cross and resurrection. One is false, one is true. One confuses and produces weariness, while the other enlightens and invigorates.

"So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." (2 Corinthians 5:16-21)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

You Want Jesus

Jesus is well acquainted with failure and sin and faithlessness and betrayal and ugliness of all sorts. He knows all about it and is really good with it. . .and with us who fall into it. No matter how you are today, no matter how bad your experience, He is what you want. He is the solution. He is the way forward.

He may not answer all your questions, but He will give you life. And that's the real issue.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Prayer Request

I have just been told that Darin Hufford, author of the excellent book, 'The Misunderstood God' and host of The Free Believer's Network, is in ICU with kidney failure.

Please take a moment to pray for Darin and his wife Angie, and for his 5 young children: Landin, Sydney, Emma, Eva and Jude.

Thank you.

Sunday, August 12, 2012


Do we looked happy and relaxed? We are. This always happens after a family trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. We've now returned home to Colorado, and we're fairly-well ignoring the pressure of the run-up to school starting late this week. From left to right, me, Ellen (my eldest), Emma, and my wife, Sarah.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Let God

My best work is often to simply express frustration to Jesus.  He is so good with it!  He has no struggle, not with me, not with lies or truth, nor with things visible or invisible, so I take my time.  In offering my struggles to Him, He works in me the Way that He is, and the Truth and the Life. 

And I'm getting better at believing that He is perfect with me.  (2 Cor 12:7-10)

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Rest In Him

If God long ago bore all of your iniquities, ransomed you from sin, made you His own, secured you for heaven and rescued you from this present evil age, if that’s all done, then you’ll be able to discern the voice of the Liar whenever you hear anything different.  That will also help you to hear the voice of truth and liberty and love.  That’s Jesus.  He’s the one you want.  (Isaiah 53; Matthew 20:28; Ephesians 2:6-7; Galatians 1:4)

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Wealthy At 21

Twenty-one years ago today I married the babe of my life.  She was deep and shallow (each within about ten seconds), caring and safe (I could tell her anything…and did), unassuming and gorgeous (nothing has changed), and I knew she thought I was a pretty good man.  As Sarah and I celebrate with our daughters (Ellen and Emma—and you could add the same description about them and be correct) in our favorite place for a few days (Jackson Hole, Wyoming), we are wealthy beyond our dreams.  

Thank you, Jesus, for designing our days with far more in mind than I had in mine.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

One Thing

Click on the picture to see it in larger format.

Love Keeps Life Clear

How about a loud, “Hip-hip, hooray!” for messy relationships!  No?

When we experience relational stress there comes the immediate urge to figure things out, to set up boundaries, and to get more wisdom and understanding so we will have better relational skills.  None of those is necessarily wrong, but what is most needed because it is most true to our nature is authentic love—love from The Source.  

We are set up for God’s love and what that does to us and through us, particularly in relationships.  He is an unending supply of love—love that is patient and kind and generous, and love that doesn’t measure its affection as a strategy to win anyone or anything.  God’s love isn’t keeping score and it isn’t self-seeking.  It’s a marvel of perfect grace.

If you’re struggling in love, consider resisting the urge to get smarter as fast as you can about the struggle you’re in, and rest for a time in God’s love for you.  Enjoying Him and the way He is toward you will also fashion love for everyone in your life as well.  His love works in you.  His love keeps life clear.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

God Is Not Frustrated With Our Messes

So many of us think that God’s grace is a huge inconvenience to God.

I used to. In fact, up until just today, I was believing that if only I never sinned, and if only Adam hadn’t eaten from that stupid tree, God wouldn’t have to continuously clean-up after me/us; as though it is God’s burden, His tough luck, His “cross to bear.” I know this must sound ridiculous, but stay with me.

When my son makes a mess, which, by the way, is a continuous ordeal, I often feel “put upon,” annoyed, and frustrated, because I’ve told him, just about every day of his 23 years to clean-up after himself, in other words “work on the performance.” Since I often feel this way concerning my son’s performance, I find myself reacting in ways, at times, that are not consistent with my new nature. But, I never stopped to think about the fact that God doesn’t feel that way about me.

I suppose, if I were to be perfectly honest here, I would have to say that I, too, leave things messy and out of order in ways that are only noticeable to me and God, and His response to me is very different than mine towards my son. First of all, God isn’t frustrated or annoyed that I’m not performing well. His cross wasn’t some last ditch effort to fix my mess, not to minimize the price God paid for me. I didn’t force God to sacrifice Himself for me. It was His love for me, wrought before the foundations of the world, that motivated Him, and I would go so far as to say that His sacrifice was His original plan.

God’s love for His creation far exceeds anything you or I do. As I told one of my counselees last week, “Your screw-ups cannot out do God’s redemption and love.”

Here’s what’s so amazing about God. He takes joy in cleaning up after me and redeeming my messes; this is where He gets glorified. Does that mean that I should mess up more so that His grace should abound even more? May it never be! But God, unlike me, takes great pleasure in being God—loving me, forgiving me, sharing His compassion, His mercy and, yes, His unfathomable grace with me.

Every time I mess up I get to experience this truth, which is having a profound effect on my daily living—something the law (a religion based on a system of rules) could never do!

About the Author - Yolanda Stith
Yolanda serves as the Director of Training of Grace Ministries near Washington, D.C. She is an active speaker and teacher developing courses on marriage, addiction, anxiety, depression, codependency, and the Finding Freedom Through Discipleship Counseling Video Series. Yolanda is a Messianic Jewish Believer and a member of the Northern Virginia Tres Dias Community as a Spiritual Director. She and her husband, Ken, who is a part-time staff member at Grace Ministries, live in Potomac, Maryland.