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Posts Tagged: grace


 asked: Hey Unka! So, I want to become a chef. It’s something I’ve always wanted to become. It’s just that I also want to do meaningful work in my life. So how could I tie in the two together?

Unka Glen answered: I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, ANYTHING you’re interested in, the Lord can use it for the Kingdom. Anything. Let me tell you a story of someone I know personally (though I know she’d prefer to remain anonymous).

As you may know, my main job is inner city ministry here in Chicago, and one night I met this sweet young gal who was brought to our service by some homeless men. She explained that she was a recovering alcoholic, and that since she had started working her recovery, she started seeing people on the streets in a very different way

She also explained that she worked in a very fancy restaurant in the city, and that this restaurant would often throw out lots of food unless it was prepared “just right”. So she began collecting this food, and was using it to feed the homeless very slightly less than gourmet-quality meals. 

Those men warned her that she was doing all this in a dangerous neighborhood, and that she could simply bring that food to churches that participate in our Bridge program, and those churches could distribute it in food programs for the poor, as they’ve already been doing. That way it would save those already poor inner-city churches some money, while keeping everything simple and safe. 

But the story doesn’t stop there! This same young gal started talking to other kitchen staff that she knew in other gourmet restaurants, and started getting them to set aside food too. Some of those restaurants got so excited, they offered to come down to those churches and homeless shelters, and cook for the people in person!

Who knows where it might go from there? Think of the possibilities!

All this came about because one person felt a burden of love, and saw a way to serve those in need. And I promise you, this young woman has as much influence for the Lord as any pastor in the neighborhood. You feed a starving person gourmet cuisine, they already sense that something remarkable and miraculous is at work!

Whatever your interest, whatever you’re into, God can use it.



 asked: Hey Unka! I really like this guy at my church. I have a hard time getting into conversations with just him, so I can get to know him better. I have a hard starting a conversation with him and only him. Any advice?? Thanks!


Unka Glen answered: Well, it’s easy enough to come up with a reason to get his phone number (I’ll text you the link to that thing we were just talking about, oh do I have your number? You know I don’t think I do!). So from there you can do some texting, and while that’s something, it doesn’t really compare to real face-to-face conversation, does it?

In the end, if you want to be alone (and I think it’s a good idea to have some alone time to get to know one another), then why not invite him to meet you at a coffee shop or what have you? This can be as casual as “what’s your favorite flavor of ice cream? Oh I see, well they have the best ice cream over at this little place near me, let’s meet over there later this week, and I can show you what I mean.”

Either way, get your mind around one simple concept: if you want some romance in your life, you’re gonna have to fight for it. All kinds of problems and strange obstacles will arise, and you’ll have to fight through all those things to keep the relationship moving forward. And yes, hearts may be broken, but trust me, broken hearts can mend stronger than they were before. 

God gives us the courage to act on the doors He opens, but sometimes things don’t work out. Sometimes you choose to do your part, and the other person in the relationship fails to do their part. In those cases God gives healing, He gives us a greater wisdom, and leads us on to even better relationships. God turns all our setbacks into comebacks.

Nonetheless, you’re smart to be focusing on communication as the thing to take you both to the next level. Communication with God (prayer) is all important, and that takes us to our next question:


Anonymous asked: Hi Unka Glen! I tutor a great 10 year old boy, and so far it’s been pretty awesome. However, I’ve noticed he has a habit of “shutting down”. This has only happened once before with me, he quietly started crying and putting his head down. I responded by letting him have his moment, but also being attentive and encouraging. Within minutes, he quickly resumed doing his homework. But today it happened again, what should I do? [edited for length]


Unka Glen answered: Learning to communicate is essential for healthy relationships, especially in the area of getting help from other people. I’ve seen young kids yelling and screaming for a parent to help them, while the parent is saying something like, “Billy, if you want me to help, you have to stop screaming and tell me what’s wrong. Is it your foot? Is it your head? Somewhere in between? Is it an existential crisis Billy?”

It’s silly to have a problem, and want help, but then to fail to express that problem and ask for help in a simple and direct way. So silly. Except you and I can be just like that. Whether it’s saying “I’d like to get to know you better over ice cream”, or “God, I’m angry with you because I don’t know who else to be angry with”, we struggle to simply express ourselves and be vulnerable. 

Now is an awesome time for this young man to learn to “use his words” to express himself. At his age he may not have the cognitive bandwidth to figure out the right words to express himself, AND figure out how to process those emotions at the same time. But once the emotions have burned off, ask him to express what it was that was making him frustrated. 

Let him know that he doesn’t have to use all the right words, and that you won’t negate his emotions by telling him he’s wrong to feel the way he does. If he can express himself after the fact, then maybe he can express himself a little earlier next time. Also, ask him to express himself on things that are not so emotionally charged, “why is Iron Man your favorite Avenger?”, or “why does this person in this comic book look so sad?”

Also, just like having a prayer journal, you can encourage him to write down his feelings, and tell him that he doesn’t have to show anybody unless he wants to. The main idea is to start expressing things in healthy and mature ways. 

Just like good prayer, you’re encouraging him to separate the explanation from the analysis. First, let’s figure out what we feel, THEN we’ll decide whether it’s based in reality. When we try to have the “right” emotions (whatever those are) we end up censoring everything we really feel. Better to simply say, “I imagine I’m wrong about some of this, and right about some of it, but I won’t be able to analyze that until I express it.”




 asked: Hi Unka, so I cussed while praying because I was angry at someone. But after that I repented, and even prayed for the same person, because God convicted me to do so. When I told my friends, they judged me because, according to them, I should approach God in reverence; not use my mouth to say bad words since the same mouth brings him praise. But I see God as my Papa, and I’m just telling him how I felt mistreated. [edited for length]


Unka Glen answered: Your friends are making a giant, huge, hairy assumption that God is honored more by behaving reverently, than by honesty. The problem with that particular assumption is that Jesus told a parable that directly contradicts it.

The Parable of the Two Sons can be found in Matthew 21:28-32, and it tells the story of a father who tells one son to go work in his vineyard, and that son says “I will not” and has a funky and disrespectful attitude. But then, walking away, and having vented his anger, this son begins to examine his attitude, and he changes his mind, and goes to work in the vineyard.

The other son, like your friends, sits up and gives a snappy, “I will sir!” when the father asks him to go and work in the vineyard. From the way Jesus tells it, you picture this son answering even before thinking about it. Talk about obedience! But as Jesus goes on with the story, the second son didn’t go to work in the vineyard.

Jesus tells this parable to tell religiously devout people why prostitutes will enter the Kingdom ahead of them, because, while some people behave correctly, it’s often those who act wrong that have a way of actually following God. Jesus didn’t ask those religious people which son had the better attitude, Jesus didn’t ask which son had the most holy response, Jesus asked: “Which of the two sons did what his father wanted?”

You see, in your story, you did what your Father wanted, which was to change your heart and mind, and even pray for this person. Okay, so it was a little ugly getting there, just like it was for that first son, but I don’t hear Jesus saying a single word of condemnation for that son

I also think maybe there’s an implication in that parable, that by being honest and venting his real feelings, it may have helped this first son to see what was wrong within himself, and get back on the right track. 

Many cultures value politeness over honesty. And that’s cool and all, but don’t ever make the assumption that God fits neatly into your culture. It’s all fine and good if you have a boss or parent or authority figure, and you give a quick “yes boss!” to everything they say, and act busy when they’re around, and wear the right clothes, and so on. But we should NEVER treat God that way.

Honesty is a Godly virtue, one that respects the truth. By contrast, you disrespect God by going to God and pretending to feel something you don’t (especially since HE ALREADY KNOWS). You honor God by putting all this funky and sometimes ugly emotion on the table, and saying, “Father, I know I’m probably wrong somewhere in this, but I have to lay it all out in front of you, so you to show me where, and what’s really going on.”

I pray that prayer every day, and despite my often funky attitude, and my unholy-sounding conversations with God, you’ll notice that, like you, I’ve got plenty of vineyard dirt under my fingernails.




young-hypochondriacI know we can’t expect to understand everything about the Bible and God, and that it’s best to just have faith. But over the past few days I’ve been beginning to believe that although the Bible can contain spiritual truth, it doesn’t contain all truth. I believe that because the thought of eternal damnation of people who haven’t accepted Christ clouds my view of God. 

My faith seems messy and I’m terrified that I’m getting this all wrong. I’m terrified that I’m ignorantly rejecting truth in order to help me sleep better at night - that I’m creating a faith that caters to my own needs instead of being truthful, and this makes me panicky. I know this is long, and I’m sorry, but these thoughts are like eating me alive, and I think you give great advice, so please deal with meeeee.


Unka Glen answered: Okay, breathe, I’ve you on this. Believe it or not, this is closer to being a good thing than a bad thing. Your walk is progressing beyond a mere pretending to believe a set of doctrines, and choosing to believe nothing more than what you can live with. That’s actually a good thing, as long as God Himself is in the process.

So let’s take this step by step, shall we?

“I know we can’t expect to understand everything about the Bible and God, and that it’s best to just have faith” Actually, no. When we don’t understand things, the virtue we’re looking for is wisdom, not faith. After all, you have to know what it is you’re supposed to have faith in, and how do you know, unless you ask these kinds of questions?

“The Bible…doesn’t contain all truth” Well, of course there are many more specific truths that the Lord would like to tell you, about the world, about yourself, your calling, about His great love for you specifically, etc., than what’s written in the Bible. and again, how are you to hear those things unless you engage Him in conversation?

“The thought of eternal damnation of people who haven’t accepted Christ clouds my view of God” Nobody goes to Hell because they haven’t accepted Christ, the Bible is talking about people who knowingly reject Christ. That’s a huge difference. In fact, the Bible even talks about people who never have a chance to hear the word of God, but they follow God nonetheless, because they follow the things that God puts on their conscience, and “they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts” (Romans 2:14-15).

So obviously God isn’t sending those people to Hell.

“I’m terrified that I’m ignorantly rejecting truth in order to help me sleep better at night” Well, it is a fact that one does not arrive at the truth by staring into space and deciding what’s true. Two plus two equals four. Believe it, doubt it, it’s still four. However, in this case the truth is easy enough to sleep on: Your concern that God is a) bound by a technicality of Scripture, b) less understanding that you, and c) less compassionate than you, turns out to not be the case.

“My faith seems messy and I’m terrified that I’m getting this all wrong” What’s wrong with messy? Messy is good. Messy is REAL. And what, exactly, are you terrified of? You came to a place where you weren’t willing to believe something that turns out to not be true. That’s a good thing as far as I can tell.

In fact, if I could say one last thing about all this, it would be to take these concerns and doubts, and build them into your walk with God. To present them, one at a time, and listen for His answers. (That’s what I do). 



 asked: Hi Unka Glen, I used to have a good walk in Christ, then I got involved in a relationship, and doing sexual immorality. I really feel dirty, then numb. I feel so far, and so unworthy of Him right now. What should I do? Right now every time I look in the mirror, I don’t see any beauty at all, but defilement. [edited for length]


Unka Glen answered: Okay, whoa there Cupcake… defilement? Really? Sounds like someone’s heard more judgement than grace on this subject, and it’s time we sorted that out.

You say that you feel so unworthy of God, and that word “worthy” sure does mess a lot of Christians up. So let’s make this much clear: you never were worthy of God’s love, you were a sinner before you did this wrong thing, and you’ll be a sinner on your deathbed. God knew every wrong thing you would ever do, and He paid for it all, because of His great love for you, not because you were worthy.

Sex isn’t dirty, it’s beautiful, and it’s meant to be shared in the right way at the right time. You sought pleasure, and you found it. You’re not alone in that. But the deeper wisdom that guilt isn’t letting you see, is that this pleasure doesn’t quite work right, outside of a meaningful, committed, long term relationship like marriage. 

The enemy knows that smart people will eventually realize that less meaningful sex simply loses its appeal, and thus people will eventually seek something more meaningful, even if that means they have to wait until the time is right. No, sex never was the temptation, guilt was the whole point.

You don’t have a problem with sex, you have a problem with guilt. 

It’s this emotion of guilt that has you feeling dirty, feeling unworthy, and ultimately feeling “so far” from God. And here’s how the lie of guilt works: since you’re “defiled” now, and far from God, you can’t exactly go to Him and ask for peace, or joy, or forgiveness… all you can do is just have some more sex.

You wanna know why guilt is so hard to get rid of? It’s because getting rid of that guilt means getting rid of our excuse to keep doing the sin driving it.

The negativity of guilt drives a cycle that keeps you from realizing one simple truth: forgiveness, grace, love, and healing are available to you RIGHT NOW, in infinite supply. Don’t tell me how sick you are with the medicine sitting right next to you.

Sex didn’t create this mess, guilt did. Confess it all, accept forgiveness (without wasting any more time on guilt), and get busy making the changes needed to keep all this from happening again. God is never far.

Psalm 139:7-10 "How can I get away from your Spirit? Where can I go to escape from you? If I go up to the heavens, you are there. If I lie down in the deepest parts of the earth, you are also there. Suppose I were to rise with the sun in the east and then cross over to the west where it sinks into the ocean. Your hand would always be there to guide me. Your right hand would still be holding me close."


"Stop projecting your feelings about yourself onto God. Don’t assume He has the negative thoughts about you that you have about yourself. God does not think the way you think. He does not see you the way you see yourself. Let God speak for Himself."


Unka Glen Fitzjerrell on episode 135 of Say That

Get it Free on iTunes or our Website


(via thebridgechicago)

Source: thebridgechicago



simply-beloved asked: Unka Glen, I feel spiritual warfare, and today it broke loose. I confronted my brother on a grudge I’ve been holding because of what he did to me, and I haven’t forgiven him after all these years. We finally confronted the issue we were both avoiding. It hurts, and he believes I’m a terrible Christian who knows nothing of forgiveness. [edited for length]


Unka Glen answered: If you hurt me, don’t pretend that you’re in a position to judge how I deal with that hurt. If you kick me in my shins, and I let out a curse word, don’t imagine for a second that you get to rebuke my cussing, because Buttercup, that ain’t how grown folks do the math. Not by a mile.

We’re assuming that he confessed his mistakes, without excuse, taking full responsibility, and asked for forgiveness. Because if he hasn’t done that, then he doesn’t have a reason to expect any forgiveness. He can’t say, “you’re a bad Christian because you refuse to forgive me for the thing I never did.” I mean, where’s the logic in that?

So, if this is a situation where he admitted everything, took full responsibility, and asked for your forgiveness, knowing he has no right to expect it from you, and assuming that this is something that you’ve let fester over time, and you haven’t forgiven him, then yes, you’re looking at a fairly unrighteous reaction on your part.

It’s understandable, but still, not the most holy option. However, those assumptions don’t hold because, apparently, he thinks you’re a terrible Christian for holding a grudge.

If you’re trying to make ME feel guilty when YOU did something wrong, then you aren’t taking responsibility, and if you’re not taking responsibility, you have no reason to expect forgiveness from anyone, Christian or otherwise.

This is blame-shifting. You abuse me, then you point to my subsequent reaction, to justify the abuse that happened in the first place.

When I lay it out like that, it seems crazy to accept something so obviously manipulative. But when we’re already using guilt as a way of managing our walk with the Lord (which is a SUPER bad idea), then we become vulnerable to anyone else who wants to come along and lay a guilt trip on us.

Having said all that, the right thing for you, is to forgive your brother. It’s time to release the pain and the heartache. You were forgiven in a way you didn’t at all deserve, and God expects you to forgive in the exact same way. Do this, and you will be more free, more happy, and more peaceful, and I want that for you.



Fear writes its own gospel. It replaces the true gospel message, one that brings courage and passion and boldness, with a false and ugly gospel of worry, where I’m found cringing in my lack of accomplishment, and my ongoing sins. Fear opens the door to lies and makes me easy to manipulate. 

Guilt writes its own gospel. It teaches us the absurd lie that our bad behavior changes God’s mind about us. Guilt teaches us to “pay” for our own sins by beating up on ourselves, thus ignoring the need for a Savior. It teaches us that it’s not God’s love that binds our relationship together, it’s my behavior. But the true gospel teaches us: if it’s paid for, put it behind you.

Shame writes it’s own gospel. It preaches the lie that you are what you’ve done, therefore, you can’t escape your past. The one true gospel says that I am who loves me, and that God loves me in a way that is too deep and wide and tall for me to comprehend. Fear, guilt, and shame open the door to the enemy’s main lie: you are not worthy.

So let’s dismiss these shabby, disgusting, and religious-sounding fake gospels, and return to the real gospel: I am a sinner saved by grace. I didn’t earn it, I never was worthy of it, I’m saved because God is in charge, and that’s exactly how God wanted it to be. And, it turns out, I’m exactly the kind of scoundrel who will accept eternal life in paradise without deserving it in the least. 

So now my focus needs to be on my savior, not on the sins He’s already paid for. My focus needs to be on the good he is calling me to, not the sin He is calling me from.


Anonymous asked: I’m currently leading as a cell leader, but my sexual sins still haunt me. Will this haunt me for all the days of my life? I’m going to start theology school pretty soon (part time, but still), and it breaks me, spiritually and mentally. Love your aid, and thank you for lending a listening ear when I have no one else around me. [edited for length]

Unka Glen answered: I thank you for that compliment at the end, but in truth, I think it reveals a part of the underlying problem here. If you had two or three buddies who are working on the same thing you are, with lust/sexual issues, and you could talk to them, then this whole problem would have a very different look to it. 

Many, many years ago, I had a regular penny poker night at my swingin’ bachelor pad. All of these guys were in either full-time ministry, or volunteering while training to go full-time. One night, in a tone of voice that was strained and upset, one of the guys said, “well fellas, I’ve been whacking it again.”

As silence settled over the table, another one of the guys folded his hand, took a long pull on his cold beer, and said, “shoot, if my hand was made of sandpaper, I’d be a woman by now.” We erupted in laughter. The player to his right, a prominent Presbyterian pastor today, admitted that he had left his jock itch untreated, just so he would have an excuse to be scratching around in that area.

Disgusting, yes, I shan’t deny it. 

But laughing in the face of the enemy who was laying down that temptation, instead of wallowing in guilt, turned out to be a FAR more effective solution. After the laughter died down, we started talking about what had worked for us on fighting temptation in the past, and how we could watch each other’s backs in the future. 

The peace that comes from knowing that you’re not alone, that’s beyond price. Fellowship is every bit as important as worship, and Bible study, and prayer, and all the rest. I have my inner circle, and I tell them everything. Without that fellowship, I would be backsliding in in a matter of weeks.

Will the temptation always be there? Yes. Will you get stronger and stronger until one day that temptation can be more easily swatted aside? Yes, if you keep working at it. But here’s what you’re really wondering about: will I ever reach a level where I’ll be too holy and sanctified to feel tempted? …NOPE, you won’t. 

On the contrary, the point of my poker night story is that the growth and the healing began when humility entered the picture. 

As the old saying goes, “every great revival starts with a confession.”



Anonymous asked: I am a Christian teenager, who had a burning faith a few months ago. But now? I don’t feel it. I can now go a day without any word of God that serves as my weapon; I can now find an excuse for me not to go to church (and I don’t feel any guilt anymore). What should I do? I feel really far from God. I am praying for this, but I think my faith isn’t sufficient. Thanks, Unka.


Unka Glen answered: I think to get a handle on this, we need to see what our emotions are doing.

In lots of churches, and ministries, and even Christian music concerts, the drama is so high, and the constant attempt to ramp up emotions is so relentless, that I end up walking away feeling exhausted.

What’s funny is I always hear the same thing in those places: “hey everybody, remember, this isn’t all about emotion!” And I sit there thinking, reeeheeely? But the truth is, they mean what they say, they don’t want it to be all about emotion, they’re just using emotion as a way to get ministry done.

The problem is, that by manipulating emotions in this way, they’re teaching you to build emotion into your walk with God. As you said in your message:

  • You don’t FEEL the BURNING faith 
  • You don’t FEEL the guilt any more
  • You FEEL far from God

Understand, your emotions are valid and important, and I’m certainly not trying to dismiss your feelings in any way, I’m just saying, that when you’re building your house on the rock, emotions are useless as building materials.

Here are a few reasons why:

Emotions cloud. When you think about emotions and your walk with God, I want you to think of a massive fog bank, clouding everything, and there’s you trying to navigate through it all. You can’t feel your way along, you have to see where you’re going.

Emotions lie. Emotions have a way of getting you totally convinced of something that is also totally not true. It’ll FEEL true, but fear and guilt and shame point you far away from God’s truth, every time.

Emotions change. Take any emotion and try having that emotion for, say, three days in a row. You can’t, because emotions keep on changing. Sadness changes into anger, anger turns into bitterness, bitterness into self-loathing, and on and on. You can’t build your walk around something that slippery and unreliable.

In the end, your goal is to build your entire walk on your relationship with God Himself. Then you can read the Bible simply because you like it. You can go to church or pray or whatever because you’re following the Godly virtue of joy, not the intoxicating emotionality of “burning” faith.

From here forward, make everything in your Christian life a “get to”, not a “have to”. You get to speak with God, you get to read His word, you get to fellowship. This will dismiss the emotions of fear, shame and guilt; and replace them with the Godly virtues of joy, love, hope, peace, and real faith.



Anonymous asked: Dear Unka Glen, I mess up so many things, I act selfish, and sometimes hurt the ones I love, I make so many mistakes and I just keep on making them. Why would God (one who is perfect) care and have love for one as imperfect as me? Why wouldn’t he just give up?

Unka Glen answered: What if, the more you mess up, the more God wants to help? That would, after all, be in keeping with everything Jesus said about himself, for example, Jesus said that He “seeks and saves the lost” (Luke 19:10). If you’re lost, He’s seeking you, case closed.

What if God has really low standards? That doesn’t sound right, but think about it, everybody makes mistakes. God signed Himself up for dealing with a lot of screw-ups when He set out to be our Savior. Yes, Christ’s perfection is a goal, but it’s obviously one we’ll never fully reach. 

You’re thinking that God has a high standard that you’re falling short of, and maybe God would rather deal with all those “holy people” you imagine are out there. Those people at church, the ones that seem to have it all together, are just like you. Some may be a step or two ahead of you, and many more are faking it, but regardless, they’re making the same mistakes you are.

Sure, God expects that you should be serious about dealing with sin, after all, it’s hurting you, and He can’t stand to see you hurt. And yes, this involves discipline and hard work, and many setbacks. But when you teach a child to walk, you don’t quit after the first time they fall on their face and start crying, and you don’t get angry either. You wipe away the tears, and say, “okay, let’s try that again.”

What if sin itself was what God expected of you? What if that was basically your default setting? Sounds pretty raw, but it would explain a lot. Paul himself said: “I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out” (Romans 7:18).

So if sin is natural, to be expected, and just about all we can manage, then it must take something SUPER-natural to overcome it. So how do we access this mighty supernatural power? Well, not by beating up on yourself Buttercup, that’s for sure!

Maybe it starts with forgiving God for having such low standards. Or, tell it like it is, for really having no standards at all. He’ll just accept any sinner who comes along and wants eternal life in Paradise as a free gift. God is letting Himself get taken advantage of, and meanwhile, He refuses to beat up on us the way we know we deserve.

Forgive Him for it. He’s drunk and overcome with love for you. He is reckless and wild with His affections, and He loves those who often turn their back on Him. Forgive Him for failing to be as strict as you’re sure He needs to be.

"Much of the New Testament was written by someone who tried to destroy the lives of all Christians everywhere. God chose that man and blasted him off his donkey with a laser beam for a reason: to make it clear that nobody could read that book and think themselves a worse sinner than the man who wrote it. Paul himself said: ‘here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst’ (1 Timothy 1:15)."

- Unka Glen (

"God doesn’t do anything because He -has- to do it. He forgives you because that’s what He wants to do. He loves you and draws you near because it pleases Him to do so. Do not be fooled, God is not reluctantly merciful."

- Unka Glen (

"You must remember that from the Father’s point of view, Jesus was perfectly righteous in everything He did, but from the world’s point of view, Jesus led a rebellion, designed to tear down the old ways, built on the backs of outcasts. He still leads us in a way that the world, and the religious establishment, would find rebellious. I’m proud to be an outcast member of that rebellion."

- Unka Glen (

"Nothing in all the world is as desirable as God’s love, and yet it’s so rarely received. How lonely God must be, to love us as He does, only to watch us deny ourselves that love until we think we’ve earned it. God already said that every holy instruction could be summed up in this: love me back."

- Unka Glen (