Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Carol Gospel - O Come All Ye Faithful

The Gospel According to (Christmas) Carol
O Come All Ye Faithful

(Be sure to read the introduction to this series.)

God has been speaking to humanity since Genesis, chapter 1. And I, for one, think it is pretty cool that the first words that man ever heard were "Be fruitful and multiply".

God spoke the Ten Commandments to Moses. He spoke the 23rd Psalm into David's heart. He spoke "I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you" to Joshua. God spoke promises to the prophets, assurances to Mary, wisdom to Solomon, church discipline to Paul, and stunning revelations about the future to John. In fact, I believe the whole Bible is the inspired word of God written down by faithful men.

Before going on, give a listen to Acapella's version of "O Come All Ye Faithful"

This week's carol suggests that maybe we should capitalize "Word":
"Word of the Father now in flesh appearing"

You see, when Jesus stepped out of Heaven and into this world, He came as… how can I say this? Well, put it this way, my voice and my words are the expression of my thoughts. Jesus came as the expression of God's thoughts, His Words:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. …
And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1.1, 14)

You've heard of the admonishment, "walk the walk and talk the talk" (or however that goes). Jesus came as the Talk of God walking around.

And something else stunning happened that first Christmas. It is something that God wanted and mankind needed since that incident in the Garden in Genesis. On that day, God drove man not just out of the garden, but also out of His presence. We were created to crave a relationship with God. We need it! When Jesus, the Word of God, appeared in flesh we got back what we had long ago lost – fellowship with God.

Perhaps that is why, of all the Christmas Carols, especially on this wonderful album of carols performed by Acapella, there is one line that means more to me than any other:
"Yea Lord, we greet thee"

I know, we are long removed from that stable in Bethlehem. I was not in the crowd at the Sermon on the Mount. I was not at Calvary that dark day two thousand years ago. I have not seen Jesus face-to-face. But I believe some day I will see him face-to-face. And although I can't sing a lick, I can tell you for sure, some day I am going to enter Heaven and I am going to sing out bright and clear, "Yea Lord, I greet thee".

Now that is Good News!

Bonus: Here is a nice post about the history of several most-beloved carols.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christmas Carol Gospel - Joy to the World

The Gospel According to (Christmas) Carol
Joy to the World

(Be sure to read the introduction to this series.)

First thing, check out this Ford commercial.

Get it? Delivering on the "and" part of the equation is a challenge. Consider the problem posed by our Pledge of Allegiance to the American flag.
"I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
Liberty and Justice? Well, we want bad people to receive justice, not be given the liberty to do more bad acts, right? Again, "and" seems to be the problem.

Let's get a little closer to Christmas with this verse about Joseph's "and" problem with pregnant-out-of-wedlock Mary.
And Joseph [was engaged to be] her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. (Matthew 1:19)
You see, Joseph was a righteous man. Mary's condition called for him to publicly renounce their engagement. But, BUT, he loved her and did not want her to suffer personal embarrassment or public disgrace. So his solution was to let her move in with relatives in another city. Yes, he would lose the one he loved, but he found a way to maintain righteousness and show compassion. Wow, God certainly found the perfect man to be the earthly father of Jesus!

Enjoy Acapella's version of "Joy to the World"

This week's carol gives us one simple, yet troubling, thought to consider.
"He rules the world with Truth and Grace"

Truth grows out of Righteousness. Truth ensures that what is expected is accomplished. For example, God expects us to live without sin. On the other hand, Grace is love-in-action. Grace  loves unconditionally.

"But" and "on the other hand" are easy to do. And, as in "Eat your cake and have it to", is sometimes almost impossible to accomplish. God has a terrible problem. He loves us completely AND He can have nothing to do with sin.

Perhaps the most popular verse in the Bible revolves around this problem of and:
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

John 3:16 reveals God's problem – loving the world and also needing sinful man to perish – and it reveals His solution – letting the sinfulness of mankind fall on the shoulders of His perfect, innocent Son. The Apostle Paul describes this transaction in poignant terms:
He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Let's go back to our carol for one more treasure on this theme:
"And makes the nations prove…
The glories of His Righteousness
And wonders of His Love"

Want to drive this point home? This coming week, don't say "but". Replace it in all your sentences with "and". You'll quickly come to realize how amazing God's "and" solution is.

Next week's carol: O Come All Ye Faithful

Bonus: Here is a nice post about the history of several most-beloved carols.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Christmas Carol Gospel - Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

The Gospel According to (Christmas) Carol
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

(Be sure to read the introduction to this series.)

Gospel means "good news". The Good News of Christmas is that, even though we are separated from God spiritually, He still wants to be with us. And how God solves that problem is utterly unique.

Our separation from God began in the Garden of Eden when Adam & Eve ate the forbidden fruit. But let's not put all the blame on them, you and I also have "come short of the glory of God" and deserve our separation from Him.

Before I get to this week's carol, let me share a couple lines from some golden oldies with you.
"I can't live if living is without you"
(Without You, Harry Nilsson)

"I'd rather live in his world
Than live without him in mine"
(Midnight Train to Georgia – Gladys Night)

The human heart well knows the agony of separation. Separation from the one we love causes a gnawing emptiness, an unrelenting distress and it makes us consider, day and night, how to reunite with our beloved. Well, we are created in God's image, yes?  How do you think He feels about being separated from the ones He loves?

And there is the Good News! Even though we were separated from God, He came to seek and to save us. Those Herald Angels saying "Hark!" call us to consider the profound effort God achieved to be with us again. You see, we were lost. In fact, we were so separated from God that we didn't even know we were lost. So, God came down into our dimension of life.

Enjoy Acapella's version of this carol.

These two lines give me goosebumps:
"Veiled in Flesh the God-head see; Hail the incarnate Deity"
"Pleased, as man, with men to dwell, Jesus our Immanuel"

God is spirit (John 4:24) so for the Creator and Sustainer of the entire universe to put on the human costume must be terribly uncomfortable and limiting. Consider what the Apostle Paul says Jesus' Godness: For in Him [Jesus] all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form. (Colossians 2:9) Paul also talks about Jesus' profound humility to lay aside all the rights and privileges of the "King of kings" to walk around the dust and mud, the summer heat, the winter cold of ancient Israel.

But, even in His crude kit of human flesh and bones, we still realized that He is God… God. With. US!!! That's what "Immanuel" means. John writes: And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

See, that was the whole point. God loved us so much, and hated being separated from us so much, that He came down here to be with us. He couldn't live without us in His world, so He came to live with us in ours! But even in His human "veil", there was no denying that Jesus fully and wholly embodied the full grace and truth of God in heaven.

And some great day we'll see Jesus without that veil. Maranatha!

Next week's carol: Joy to the World

Bonus: Here is a nice post about the history of several most-beloved carols.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Christmas Carol Gospel - O Little Town of Bethlehem

The Gospel According to (Christmas) Carol
O Little Town of Bethlehem

(Be sure to read the introduction to this series.)

A teen graduating from high school…
A young woman getting married…
A long awaited purchase of a dream car, dream home, dream vacation…

We all have experienced major events in our lives that are the culmination of long years of anticipation. We've rolled that moment over and over in our minds as we slowly progress toward the goal.

For children, each day of December seems as long as the whole year as they watch Christmas decorations go up and presents go under the tree. How many of us, in our childhood, thought there was no way that we could survive the long, long Christmas Eve? "Visions of sugarplums"? No way! We were desperately guessing how the toy we desperately hoped for all year could possibly be in one of those wrapped-and-ribboned packages.

Did you know the first Christmas was as fervently anticipated as any Christmas since?

Our first Christmas Carol tells us the story of anticipation that lay over Israel at that time. Give a listen to "O Little Town of Bethlehem" sung by Acapella.

Did you catch the key phrase?
"The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight"

It's true. For many, many long years, Israel had hoped for a King, a Conqueror, a Liberator who would throw off the shackles of foreign oppression and restore the vigor and dignity of the nation. This hope was personalized by two people who you may never have heard of, but who are essential to the complete Christmas story. Let me take you to Luke 2 and introduce you to Simeon and Anna.

And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him. (v.25)

And there was a prophetess, Anna.… She never left the temple, serving night and day with fastings and prayers…. looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. (v.36…)

Please read all of Luke 2 so you get the full picture.

The point is, good, righteous, and devout people were eagerly expecting the coming of the Messiah who would bring "consolation" and "redemption" to Israel. And they had been expecting Him for years! For centuries, the hopes of an entire nation lay heavily on the unknown, unborn Messiah's shoulders. For centuries, the Israelites feared that their Messiah would never come, or come too late.

Indeed, "the hopes and fears of all the years", the eager anticipation of a whole nation, was answered in that quite night in the stable.

This installment of The Gospel According to (Christmas) Carol reminds us that our timing is often not the same as God's timing. But He is a good and wise God and we are wise to rest peacefully in the confidence that "at just the right time" God will deliver on His promises.

Next week's carol: Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

Bonus: Here is a nice post about the history of several most-beloved carols.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Christmas Carol Gospel - Intro

The Gospel According to (Christmas) Carol
I love love love traditional Christmas carols. My first, richest memories of carols reach back to the early 1960s in my elementary school. Way back then, we were allowed to celebrate Christmas in the schools. The Christmas pageant would begin with
Our Christmas card photo from 1966.
That's me in the red boots!
a procession of children in white smocks holding battery-powered candles and singing "Joy To The World". It was simply the most beautiful thing I knew.

Now, so many decades later, I appreciate the carols not just for their musical beauty, but also how completely they tell the whole Gospel – The Good News – of salvation by faith in Jesus Christ. So, I've added the name Carol alongside Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John… The Gospel According to Carol, Christmas Carol. Has a nice ring to it, don't you think?

Over the next four weeks, as we approach Christmas Day, I'm going to share snippets from four carols that tell the Gospel in a powerful way. I hope you'll read and cherish each post in this series.

And I'm doing a little bootlegging to share with you the soundtrack of this Gospel. The group Acapella has a Christmas CD called, what else, Carols, that is required listening in our house over the Christmas season. I'll share their version of each carol. By way of honoring these fine voices (and to show I'm not a Christmas music pirate), I invite you to add their album to your music collection.

Just a couple more things… If you feel like you need a fresh wind of inspiration in your Christmas gift-giving experience, please visit TheJesusGifts.com. This is our family's original idea that has given us wonderful Christmases for almost two decades now.

And… you might enjoy the Christmas-themed articles previously posted here at Follow Illustrated:

The Day I Discovered My Mom Had Given Me Syphilis (yes, it's really about Christmas)

If you're new to the Follow Illustrated blog, well… first let me welcome you and say "Thanks for dropping by." I am Clark H Smith. I'm a sometimes-pastor, a chaplain, a writer, but most importantly I am the husband of one beautiful wife and the father of four dandy boys. This blog is my effort to write out some of the things that rumble around in my head, specifically illustrations about what it means to follow Jesus. I hope you'll dig through the archives and find more inspiration to follow Jesus closely. And if you're a dad, too, have I got a blog for you. Visit It's Good To Be The Dad and get some encouragement and inspiration for the wonderful journey you're on.

Last thing, I promise. If you're following me on Facebook, show some Christmas spirit and please SHARE SHARE SHARE these posts. You'll bless me and all your friends as well. Thanks!

Bonus: Here is a nice post about the history of several most-beloved carols.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Effortless Grace

I just wasn’t “feeling it” on my bike ride today. Truth be told, I think I was dehydrated – a strict No-No
for which I paid the just punishment.

Still as I pedaled home in granny gear, I made peace with myself about the effort. My inner dialogue went something like this… “Clark, you’re out here for exercise. Your heart and your scales at home need you do the hard work. You did the hard work to gain your weight (tamale making is NOT easy!), now you need to do the hard work to lose the weight. Shut up and pedal.”

And so I did. And just at the instant that I truly had that conversation with myself, my bagpipes Pandora station blessed me with Amazing Grace.

Let’s get a word from our Sponsor:
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. (Ephesians 2:8)
The amazing thing about Grace is that it really is, by definition and by the meaning of the word itself, a gift from God. It would be fair to flip Ephesians 2:8 and say…
By the gift of God you have been saved through faith; and that not by anything you’ve done, it is a result of the Grace of God.
Think about it this way, do you spend a fair amount of time contemplating birthday and Christmas gifts for friends and family? (Our family enjoys a Christmas gift-giving tradition that takes months to accomplish.) Ok, let’s say it’s December 23rd. You’ve thought, shopped, wrapped, and placed presents under the tree. Then, let’s say… just hypothetically here… your ten-year old is throwing the Frisbee in his room (again… which you’ve told him many times NOT to do) and he breaks a window. What do you do?

Do you do a last minute audit of “who’s been naughty or nice”?  Do you rush down to the Christmas tree and remove one of his gifts? I didn’t ask if you would THINK ABOUT IT! But would you actually do that? Heavens no! Not only would it wound your child, it would wound you! All your planning and generosity would fly out the window (through the broken glass!).

If you are gracious like that, how much more gracious is God? In fact, that’s the amazing thing about Grace, you don’t earn it, you don’t qualify for it, you certainly can’t maintain it. Grace is bound up solely in the loving character of God.

Want to go at it the other way? What if your teenage daughter, in anticipation of better presents under tree, did all the laundry between Thanksgiving and Christmas? Would you take back the good gifts you had selected for her and go get her better ones? Well, I hope she does the laundry, but I doubt your gifts are based on performance.

And that is the Amazing thing about Grace!! It is not based on anything you do. It’s not a year-end performance bonus. Salvation a GIFT!

Followers of Jesus don’t have to earn the gift of salvation. We don’t have to prove ourselves worthy of God’s generosity. When we became born again through faith in Jesus, we entered the family of God… and that means at Christmas-time, there are some prettay prettay good gifts under the tree. I mean… if you think eternal life in the presence of God is a “good thing”.

Stay Amazed by Grace… and relax a little bit. Nothing is gonna happen to that present under the tree.

Clark H Smith

Monday, July 29, 2013

Worth Reading

I'm trying to get back in the writing habit here at Follow Illustrated.
Thank you for your patience.
I've been regularly feeding my other blog, It's Good To Be The Dad. Worth a look.

Today, I'm sharing another blogger's brilliantly worded theological treatise: My Husband Is Not My Soul Mate.
I urge every teen and young adult (and parents of teens or young adults) to devour this great article.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

“Go and do the same.”

I was raised to be prejudiced.

My parents, poor rural Southerners of the Depression Era, were NOT filled with hate. That’s not usually what prejudice is about. These good Christian folk were simply dismissive of large groups of people – thinking them incapable of basic human competency and decency. And my parents thought I should share their sensibilities.

When the Hippies of the 60s came along, my parents lumped them into the same human debris field into which they had tossed Blacks, Mexicans, and other ethnic minorities. My dad, in particular, despised long hair. He’d spew and spit, everything except curse, when a long-haired, maggot-infested, commy-type Hippie would come on the TV screen.

I can’t imagine the heart attack my dad would have had if he’d seen that Hippie fairy Elton John
induct the reprobate Leon Russell (who hasn’t had a haircut since the Johnson administration) in to the despicable Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame. Too bad, Dad would have missed something astonishing.

Before we get to that, let’s listen to this Word from our obviously crew cut and freshly showered Sponsor:

Jesus replied and said, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead. And by chance a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him. On the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.’ Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?” And he said, “The one who showed mercy toward him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.”

What we miss in this story is the prejudice and racism that is dripping all over this story. Jews were prejudiced – often to the core. They despised Samaritans. Almost worse than a “different” ethnic group, Samaritans were half-breeds. Half Jew, doubly contemptible. So Jesus gouged at the Jews, suggesting that if even a half-breed embraced the dignity of his fellow man, why did the “children of Abraham” not understand it?

Before our Holier-Than-Thou finger clicks off the TV, let’s catch this incredibly humble comment from Leon. (You need to watch the whole thing to understand what Elton John had done for Leon Russell, but key in on 7:06 to 7:50)

If you can’t devote the time to the video, here’s what Leon says:

“About a year ago, Elton [John] came and found me in the ditch at the side of the highway of life. He took me up to the high stages with big audiences and treated me like a king. And the only thing I can say is ‘Bless your heart’. Also I want to say thank you very much. I appreciate it very much… and [leaning into the mic] Hallelujah.”

That Sodom & Gomorrah-loving, godless homosexual, Hippie Elton John looked with compassion on the man “in the ditch at the side of the highway of life” and he did something about it! I don’t know anything about either man’s salvation, but I promise you this much, Jesus is patting His Dad on the shoulder saying, “That’s what I was talking about!”

“Go and do the same.”

I have spoken previously about being generous. I hope you’ll consider how you can bless others. But I also want my readers to carefully consider how to step over prejudice, or any other form of reluctance, and do something that radically changes someone’s life.

Your home church, or, if you don’t attend one regularly, any church near you, has a laundry list of people who are on the brink or over the edge. They know who needs rent paid while they go to detox. They know who’s about to lose their home or apartment and spiral into long-term holiness. They know people who are borderline suicidal for lack of friendship and compassion. They know who’s home is unfit for human occupation due to some easily remedied problems.

It is easy, and occasionally correct, to assume that people are “in the ditch” by their own fault. So what? Did Jesus tell His parable to stress personal safety? Is the moral of the story ‘don’t travel alone’ or ‘always carry American Express’? “They had it coming” is the laziest form of prejudice. You just can’t be lazy, you can’t be prejudiced and do the great work Jesus calls us to.

“Go and do the same.”

And just maybe someday someone will look at you and tearfully, humbly say, “Hallelujah”.

Clark H Smith

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The “Big Salad” Problem

Fair Warning: This may be kind of a Theology 301 level article. I thank you for your effort to understand what I’m saying.

If any one episode of Seinfeld can be funnier than another, I think “The Big Salad” episode deserves that honor. Spend 41 seconds of your life to refresh your memory:

We have previously talked about the problem with “law keeping” here and here. I recommend you read those posts if you have not already. In short, law keeping or legalism is the effort to try to be righteous in the eyes of God by not breaking laws. The problem is obvious, if you break even one law, you’re a “law breaker” and in need of serious legal help! (See Romans 3:23 and 6:23.) That’s the theological stuff, now, let’s get practical.

Seinfeld’s “The Big Salad” scene reveals a very real and quite serious social problem – not law keeping, but score keeping. Costanza pays for a friend’s salad but winds up not getting credit for the purchase. He’s ticked off that someone else got the thanks and he did not. His gesture of good will has gone un-noticed and un-thanked.

It dawned on me that people who adhere to a religion (or even a Christian denomination) that stresses law keeping often become social score keepers, saying or thinking things like “he never returned my favor”, or “it’s the least that she should do [given all that I have done]”. And how could they help themselves? If we are to be like God and if you perceive God as a score keeper, then should not all of us be score keepers?

Sponsor, speak to us from your Perfect Word:

“… I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” (Jeremiah 31:34)

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

[Love] does not take into account a wrong suffered (1 Corinthians 13:5)

God is LOVE, yes? If Love does not keep score, why do we?

Judaism, Islam, Hinduism… three of the world’s greatest religion all stress law keeping or adherence to measures of obedience. Even Christianity has shadows of this. One great Christian group believes that they are saved by God’s grace, but that they must “prove themselves worthy of His grace” and after death purge themselves of misdeeds before entering heaven. Another group with which I am very knowledgeable looks at James 2:26 (faith without works is dead) and say that they are “always trying, never sure” if they have enough works to demonstrate their faith.

In each of these world religions and Christian denominations, I have observed a very high degree of score keeping among followers. They all have “The Big Salad” problem – they believe their score is being kept, so they should keep score on others. I tell you, it is so wrong one could weep for the folly and foolishness of it all.

So what is my solution? Am I a no-holds-barred, “we’re all forgiven so sin all you want” kind of guy? The Apostle Paul deals with this brilliantly in Romans 6. But actually, I like what Paul says in Romans 1:5 and 16:26 where he speaks about the obedience of faith. We obey because it is the consequence, the logical outcome, of our faith.

Put it this way… I just did a sermon on The Wedding Plot – the single theme that ties all the stories, events, and characters of the Bible together, from beginning to end. In short, God loves us and wants intimacy with us. He compares the relationship He wants with us to the loving relationship of a married couple. And that informs me, greatly, about how I should relate to God.

Followers of Jesus don’t “keep the law” because we’re afraid of disappointing Him or getting on His bad side. I look at the law the way I do the things that please my wife. From making the bed to putting flowers on her night stand, I know what I can do to demonstrate that I care about her. I don’t do those things out of an attempt to rack up enough points, I do them simply as a gift of love. I also know the things that hurt or offend her. I don’t avoid them so she won’t be mad, I avoid them because I love and respect her I don’t want to be the cause of her wounding. You understand that, don’t you?

“The obedience of faith.” Chew on that one. Why do you do what you do? And how do you judge what other do and don’t do? Are you a score keeper? Maybe you need a fresh perspective on life. I hope this helps.

Clark H Smith

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Deep Dish Grace

I’m a well-known fan of barbeque, but I’ll admit an deep inner weakness for pizza. I was late to the pizza party, not really having a legitimate sample until I was 13. And with the closest pizza joint 30 miles away, pizza was not a staple of my teenage diet as it is for most kids today. But my waistline indicates I’ve made up for that deprivation in the years since.

In college, I had the good fortune of having a roommate who worked at the on-campus lounge where handmade pizzas were a specialty. Jeff not only made the pies, he ran the register as well… so, most of my doughy discs of cheesy, meaty goodness were on the house. Thanks UNT!

When Jeff got the job, he told me to drop by and he’d make a pizza just like I wanted. We discussed ingredients and portions and I was not disappointed when he slid me that first pie – a gift, of course. Delish. And being a college kid on a paper thin budget, I made a point to get over to Jeff’s kitchen often. But something strange was happening.

I’m a meat-eatin’ kind of guy. Pepperoni, Italian sausage, Canadian bacon, bacon bacon… I want all
of it and lot’s of it. And I had clearly discussed this with Jeff. But each subsequent time I ordered “the usual” from Jeff, there would be less meat and more cheese. Not one to chastise a friend for how he made my free meal, I suffered through and gobbled my pizza as best I could. But it just kept getting worse!

I’ll never forget “the pizza that broke the camel’s back”. Jeff brought me a pizza that looked like Greenland in February. It was ice-capped with mozzarella and so thick, I’m not sure there was any meat at all beneath the deep drifts of casein snow. I took it back to Jeff and as politely as I possibly could, I begged for him to explain why he was killing me with this lousy cheese.

Jeff smiled benignly and said, “Ah, I knew you liked a lot of something, I couldn’t remember if it was meat or cheese, but since you never said anything, I just kept loading on more cheese and holding back on the meat.”

Remember how this works, this is where get a Word from Our Sponsor:
Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)
One of the most under-used privileges Followers of Jesus enjoy is access – confident access – to the “throne of grace”. Remember, “grace” is God’s loving desire to give to us. (In fact, in the Greek language of the Bible, “grace” and “gift” are the same word!) Any time we want, we can enter the throne room, look at our Loving Father, and tell Him what we believe we need.

As Followers mature, and this is a sure sign of maturity, we learn to ask for less and less material stuff, but instead ask for the gifts God truly wants us to have. Personally, I like to ask God for Wisdom. When I’m in a situation that has mushroomed outside of my noggin’s ability to understand it, I beg God for Wisdom. He often serves it with a side of Patience and a tall, cold glass of Forgiveness, but whatever I’m asking for, I know in advance that my Heavenly Father is looking forward to me asking. That’s where the confidence comes in.

And best of all, God is not at all like my college roommate. God never forgets. He knows precisely how much of each ingredient I want. FAR MORE IMPORTANTLY, He knows how much of each ingredient I NEED! Sometimes God gives me a big ol’ pie of something I don’t even recognize… and I dig in knowing that “His ways are not my ways” and there’s every good chance He knew what I needed before I ever stepped into His presence.


How about you? What are you hungry for today?

Clark H Smith