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Posts Tagged: grace

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 asked: Unka! I hear a lot (especially on Tumblr) about verses being taken out of context. I understand when it comes to cultural laws and ways of the Old Testament, but I’ve also heard people say that verses like Jeremiah 29:11 are often quoted but out of context. Do these things apply to modern day Christians, or are they promises meant solely for the Israelites?

Unka Glen answered: Ah Christians, so good at telling you when you’ve got it wrong, so bad at telling you how to get it right. So let’s roll up our sleeves and figure this thing out. And to do that, we’ll need to visit… The Bible Nerdatorium! 

Okay, first of all, you’re right, Jesus did establish a new covenant with us (a covenant is just an agreement with a promise). The old covenant was to live according to the Law of Moses. But when Jesus came, He said, (at the Passover meal just before He was arrested) “This cup is the NEW covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you” (Luke 22:20).

Later in the New Testament, Paul goes on to quote, of all things, a prophecy of Jeremiah (see what I did there?): “‘I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”, then Paul adds, “By calling this covenant ‘new’, God has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.”

So that’s the whole Old Testament versus New Testament thing, and now you’re saying “ah, I see, so I can just tear my Old Testament out of my Bible and disregard it, because that covenant is obsolete!”

Not so fast Moon Pie.

Context is about figuring out how to rightly apply the Word, not for dismissing it. So, in this case, the context is that you’ve got the people of Jerusalem who have been taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar. All this was happening because the people of Jerusalem had messed up, they had been told to stop messing up, and they just kept messing up anyway. 

Then the passage in Jeremiah 29 reads: “I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity”

You can’t throw that verse out just because you aren’t in danger of being kidnapped by the King of Babylon. But what we can do is ask ourselves: have I ever, or will I ever. ignore an instruction from the Lord and go my own way?

If so, this verse tells me that God’s heart will have the same attitude towards me, that He had towards those wayward Jerusalemites (Jerusalomians? Jerusaricans?): He desires to bless me despite my messing up, and that if I look for Him in the mess I’ve made for myself, I will find Him and His loving, forgiving, and restoring heart.

"People often wonder: how do I react to this sin. The Bible says that when sin increases, grace increases all the more. So where we see sin (which is basically everywhere, including in the mirror), our instinct should be to point people towards the grace that’s available. If that’s not your instinct, then it’s not time for you to speak up yet."

- Unka Glen (unkaglen.tumblr.com)

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Awesome post from my man Lee Younger…

leeyounger:

What if you were at a baseball game and all the players starting bending down on the ground to count blades of grass? What if everyone in the stadium started cheering on this strange sight as if they were watching something intense and exciting? What if you asked the person beside you what was going on and they said, “Well, obviously, the players are counting blades of grass. The first one to count 1,000 blades of grass wins a point for their team.” First of all, I realize the situation I’m describing sounds stupid and really boring, but what if something like that actually happened? What if all of a sudden, everyone at a baseball game started keeping score in the wrong way? What if the way they were keeping score didn’t make any sense? What if their measurements didn’t have anything to do with the point of baseball?

That is actually a pretty good description of the world you live in. Almost everyone you know has completely missed the point of life and as a result, they’re all keeping score in the wrong way, measuring something that really doesn’t matter at all. Most folks are determining their worth based on how much money they have, how they dress, what kind of grades they get, the status of their job, their looks or any number of other temporary, terrestrial and fleeting things. There are a couple of huge problems with the way we keep score. One is that we are eternal beings and all of those earthly measurements we use to compare ourselves to each other are going away very soon. Ten thousand years from now, it won’t matter what college you went to or what your annual income was on earth.The other glaring problem with this system is that God the Son died for you. Your worth is nothing less than the precious blood of God. No measurement could add or subtract from your limitless value.

The thing is, we’re all so short-sighted. We only see what’s right in front of us, which means we keep score using all the wrong math. That’s why we get so devastated when we fail at something. We think failing at a job or school or a sport or a relationship means that we are no good. We think it proves we have less value than others, but that’s not what failure means at all. The truth is, we have infinite worth because of Jesus’ death and failure is just something He uses to remind us of how much we need Him. Failure leads us to Jesus.

In John 21, Peter and his friends went out to catch fish, but they utterly failed. They didn’t catch a thing all night long. In the morning, the resurrected Jesus stood on the shore and encouraged them to drop their nets on the other side of the boat and when they did this, the nets were filled to the brim. In fact, Jesus had already caught other fish and was cooking them up for the guys’ breakfast. Failure didn’t make these guys less important or less valuable. Rather, their failure exposed their need for and dependence on Jesus. He provided more than enough fish. After breakfast, Jesus and Peter had a conversation that wasn’t about fish at all. It wasn’t about Peter’s failure or his business in any way. It was a conversation about the real point of life. Jesus looked this man in the eyes and said, “Do you love me?” When you know your worth is fixed and you embrace failure because it drives you into the arms of Jesus, you can be freed up to answer the only question that really matters - do you love Jesus?

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Source: leeyounger

"You’re trying so hard to be something for God, that you fail to see what He’s trying to be for you. He’s trying to be the love you’re searching for, the one who meets every spiritual longing, the one who accepts you and receives you. Let God be the one He’s trying to be in your life."

- Unka Glen (unkaglen.tumblr.com)

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Anonymous asked: Hi Glen, I got “saved” over a year ago and have since turned away from many of my former behaviors/vices. I am not religious at all, but I do love Jesus. I used to smoke weed but quit because of my anxiety and depression issues. Now since February, I smoke again without feeling weird or anxious, due to the joy and peace of God working through me constantly. But recently I felt as if God is disappointed upset at me. Your opinion?

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Unka Glen answered: Why settle for the small, week, and all-too-fleeting pleasure of smoking up? If you’re getting peace from God, why settle for something so much less effective, and that has such little reward for such large risks? Why not look to God for all of it?

If God is disappointed about anything, it’s in how little we let Him help us.

Let’s be honest, weed smoking isn’t always about getting high. It’s more like participating in some kind of subculture. You ever notice how people who smoke up can’t wait to tell you about how they smoke up? But forget about the feeling of being a goody-two-shoes Christian, versus a weed-smoking “outlaw”, because labels are for objects, not people.

And let’s be honest, your ol’ Unka Glen has is own unruly past, and his own familiarity with Ms. Mary Jane, the Wacky Tobaccy, the Fatty Boombatty, etc. (and from my lingo, you may guess this was many, many years ago). But one thing I remember very well: it really wasn’t what you would call…amazing.

It was more like the kind of thing that bored people did to try and manufacture something interesting, and to try to create a positive emotional state. If you’ve dealt with depression and anxiety, the most important thing you’ve learned to is to deal with life on life’s terms, and to control your own emotions, rather than expecting relationships, or money, or sex, or even chemicals to “make” you happy.

If you’re looking at something that’s terrible for your health, bad for your brain chemistry, illegal in most places, and might increase your anxiousness and create a kind of paranoid nervousness…well, it’s hard to imagine anything that could be beneficial enough to be worth it. 

Yet going to the Lord for pure, real, uncut peace, which is available right now for free in unlimited quantities, brings only positive consequences along with the down-to-your-soul satisfaction. God is pleased to give you peace, you feel good from having it, and you become closer and more intimate with God, everybody wins.

We all need to ask ourselves, why to we kill ourselves to achieve and acquire and depend on things in the world, when they cannot begin to satisfy the longings of our soul? So much of what we call sin is just accepting a cheap substitute. So ask yourself, what’s stopping me from going to God to getting the real thing?

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"in our confusion, we say: God would love me if…
As we grow, we say: God loves me because…
But in truth, God’s love just is.
Receive it or reject it, it’s always there for you."

- Unka Glen (unkaglen.tumblr.com)

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Anonymous asked: At my church the other day an elder said, in regards to unbelievers, “We want to make them feel guilty so they realize they need a Savior.” To which my guts reacted by recoiling and everything inside me was screaming, ”no!”. But then I wondered if that was just me reacting emotionally. I know the Bible talks about freedom from guilt for believers. So do we want them to feel guilty? Whats the Bible say?

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Unka Glen answered: Go with your gut. When your conscience reacts that strongly, and it lines up with scripture, then it’s time to move on. 

If you like, on your way out, you can kick this elder in the shins, and tell him that you’re testing his theory, to see if making people feel worse is a good way of helping people realize that they need God. He can pray for healing, and to be forgiving towards you, and everything. Super holy stuff there. 

In fairness to this elder, he is simply hasn’t been taught, well, anything about ministry. And it has to be said that lately there’s been a lot of talk about constantly reinforcing a condemnation of sin, with the assumption, I guess, that people have no clue what the Bible might say on the subject.

As for what verse these people are mis-interpreting, I’m guessing it’s this one: “Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed” (John 3:19-20).

Sounds like the problem is people “loving darkness”, so what does Jesus mean by darkness? This elder thinks loving darkness is about non-believers loving sin. But lets look at the context of that verse, and see if he’s right. 

Well, this quote is actually part of a conversation Jesus is having with Nicodemus, who was both a believer in God, and a Pharisee. The Pharisees were, if anything, hyper-religious. Accusing them of loving their sinful lifestyle because of their lack of religion wouldn’t have made any sense at all. 

But the meaning is clear from the context, Jesus tells Nicodemus that “you don’t understand these things” and that “you people do not accept our testimony”. Jesus is saying that they are clueless, blind, and in darkness to the larger realities right in front of them.

Jesus is saying these religious leaders stumble around in the dark because they think they know everything, and they love that dark blindness because it feels good to think everything you do is right. Moreover, they didn’t want Jesus to expose the fact that they had no love for the lost, and no real connection or devotion to God, only to religion.

In short, this verse isn’t condemning non-believers, it’s condemning religious leaders like this elder. Jesus actually harshly rebukes religious leaders who “tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them” (Mat.23:4).

Jesus Himself makes all this clear in the same conversation with Nicodemus. Jesus said, “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him”.

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He said love is patient, then He said: I am love

He said love is not not easily angered, then He said: I am love

He said love keeps no record of wrongs, then He said: I am love

He said love always protects, then He said: I am love

He said love always overcomes, then He said: I am love

He said love never fails, then He said: I am love

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- Unka Glen (unkaglen.tumblr.com)

"Nobody will ever love you more than God does. You won’t find greater acceptance and understanding elsewhere. Even if you never loved him back. His eternal and unchanging love is the fixed point of certainty in a world of unknowns."

- Unka Glen (unkaglen.tumblr.com)

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Anonymous asked: I’m struggling with homosexuality. Time and time again I break up with my girlfriend, and try to go back to God, but I always screw up again. I feel hopeless. She’s my best friend… but I feel so guilty. What do I do?

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Unka Glen answered: I think you’ve got three layers to this problem. The first layer is that you’re doing something that you don’t want to do. If you’re torn on how to follow through with making changes, then I’d like to introduce you to a guy named Paul.

He said: “I do not understand what I do. I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. …For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.” (from Romans 7).

We all struggle to follow through with living out our faith. So let’s be understanding about your struggles, and recognize that if the guy who wrote most of the New Testament struggles with making changes, you and I are bound to slip and slide on our way to getting it together.

The next layer down is the friendship, and just like cross-gendered friendships between straight people, you’ve discovered that dating and breaking up changes a friendship forever. And not usually for the better. 

We’ve all been there on wanting to turn back the clock, but dating does involve a certain roll of the dice, and in the end, we have to live with the results. Even so, we can’t fault you for wanting to have all the good consequences and none of the bad consequences. That’s what we all want.

Then you have the final layer: the guilt. And when I lay out the rest of this situation with some understanding and perspective, that big ol’ nasty wave of guilt doesn’t seem to fit, does it? 

Having same-sex desires towards a person you love as a friend is hardly the worst evil ever (and anyway, you are working on that, with varying degrees of success), and making a mess of your dating/friendship situation is something most of us have done, or will do. So in the end, where’s the guilt coming from?

The enemy uses our hidden sexual stuff to drive a certain amount of guilt, and as such, it’s important to focus on the guilt, NOT the sexual stuff. The guilt is the whole point. You can stop doing the sexual stuff, and he’ll simply guilt you on something else.

Guilt makes us feel too unworthy to come to God. The guilt is what’s driving a wedge between you and the Lord. Eliminate the guilt, accept forgiveness, and use that intimacy with the Lord to make whatever changes HE wants to make, when HE wants to make them. 

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"Move on Christian, from a past that rakes at you with sharpened talons. Move on into a meaningful future, though none may follow you. Move on from your failings, and the failings of others. Move on from legalism and church culture. A narrow passage leads to a place of great adventure, press through, and move on."

- Unka Glen (unkaglen.tumblr.com)

"Love is the only thing that matters. Success in school or work is wonderful, but at the end of the day, it’s about how much love you received from God, and how much you shared it with others. I may end up a failure at life, but by God I refuse to fail when it comes to the afterlife!"

- Unka Glen (unkaglen.tumblr.com)

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Anonymous asked: I was scared into believing in God from a young age, and most of that fear is still there. I’m trying to forget all of it, but it’s hard. Whenever I feel/hear something amazing about God, it’s like an avalanche of a thousand bad thoughts/fear come falling down, creating a wall that I’ve been trying to get over. I keep praying and have been craving talking to God recently. Although because of this, I don’t know if I’m saved even though I accepted Jesus.

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Unka Glen answered: The salvation part is simple… God REALLY wants you to be saved. He sent His Son to die for you. Your salvation has been awaiting your acceptance ever since. The first nanosecond that you wanted it, you had it. So case closed on that. 

But looking at the larger picture, the question remains: will you ever be a Christian in the way other people are Christians? And you know what? I don’t think you will. 

For one thing you won’t be the kind of Christian who tolerate the use of fear to manipulate others. Both because you know that it is, ya know, IMMORAL, and because, in your own life, you’ve seen it backfire. Once you see certain truths, the lies just don’t work any more.

What’s more is that you’re craving a kind of spiritual life that’s really based on your own individual relationship with God, not something that’s a product of organized religion. This will make you a stronger, more devoted follower of Christ, but it really won’t make you like any other Christian.

And I think that’s a good thing.

Although it can be a little weird to come across similar language and terminology used by the kind of Christians you were raised around, you can trust in this: you are actually heading in a RADICALLY different direction with your faith. 

If you add some reading of scripture (maybe start with something easy to read, and a translation that wasn’t used as a weapon…something like The Message, or The Voice translation), then you’ll be well on your way to plain ol’ straight-up Christianity.

For sure, having fellowship with like-minded Christians is essential, and group worship time can be encouraging, but the iron core of your Christianity must be your individual relationship with God. The more time you spend alone with God, the more you remember that in your Christianity, only two people get a vote: you and God.

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"Christians often focus on becoming their best imitation of some other Christian. What’s worse, they don’t even imitate those they respect, or love, or have learned from, they imitate those they envy. God wants the real you more than He wants a fake anyone else."

- Unka Glen (unkaglen.tumblr.com)

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Anonymous asked: I screwed up pretty bad last night. You know that feeling when you’ve been doing “relatively” well (honestly I don’t know what that means anymore), and then BOOM, something happens and you find yourself right back where you started? I don’t know how to approach God because I’m part ashamed and part scared. I know that He loves every bit of me down to the last itty bitty bit of my DNA, but why is it so hard for me to love Him back? It’s pretty frustrating because I feel that there’s a certain standard that I have to live up to, you know?  What happens to the kind of Christian that screws up? 

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Unka Glen answered: Finally a question I can answer from vast personal experience! You screwed up. You’re human, it happens to all of us. If you really want to put standards on your life, put a standard on how you respond to mistakes (as opposed to never making mistakes). You want to be a warrior princess? HERE is where that starts, by admitting your weaknesses… and living in God’s strength.

In Texas we have a saying, “ride ‘er till she bucks ya… then get right back on.” Like all of us, you will fall, but your fall doesn’t make you less of a Christian, it’s how you RESPOND to that fall that defines your Christianity.

It defines how you will share it with others as well. As Paul said in 1 Timothy 1:15, “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.” Sounds familiar, huh?

You know that God loves you, you know that His Word says that His mercies are new every day. You know that you are His child, and that He may be disappointed in your actions (heck you’re disappointed in your actions), but He is never ashamed to call you His daughter. 

So will you live like you know those things are true, even as the dream of being Little Miss Perfect Christian is slowly dying? Or will you be so consumed by your disappointment in yourself, that you’ll allow yourself to be convinced that God is disappointed in you too?

This self-conviction and this self-condemnation and this attempt to live by a “standard” in your lifestyle is, if you think of it, kind of like a separate religion, in that it’s not based on what God says, so much as it’s based on what you feel.

If you’re failing at living out your made-up religious beliefs, why not ditch them, and go with, ya know, the real thing? image