It's the Little Things in Life

My  parents have instilled in me a deep love for the little things in life. You know, those ordinary, seemingly unspectacular moments that hold meaning.

Our neighbor completing the siding on his garage, after leaving a square uncovered for weeks.

The garbage man taking all of our garbage, even though we put out extra.

Using leftover food.

Killer deals in supermarket flyers.

A new podcast coming out.

Getting a stain out of shorts.

Gas going down two cents the day we planned to fill up.

A perfect breeze on a summer day.

Our cats being really cute.

Watching The Price is Right as a family.

Finishing a book.

Everybody says, "It's the little things in life." And it really, really is. Those are the things that create your everyday delights. Sure, the big things hold their magic too -- a major vacation, getting married, having a child, landing a dream job. But if you neglect the wonder in the little things, you miss out on 99% of God's grace in your life.

Take a moment today and appreciate something little, whatever it is. A green light. A great cup of coffee. A stunning sunset. On-sale ice cream. A fan positioned just right. Your favorite t-shirt.

Just appreciate it as a little manifestation of God's glorious, happy grace. Amazing.

Sometimes We Do Dumb Stuff

On Monday night I did something dumb.

Now that I'm an official graduate of Thomas Edison State University, I'm on the alumni email list. A few days go Alumni Affairs sent me an email inviting me to attend a TESU banquet at a fancy restaurant in Princeton, New Jersey, next week.

My mom likes to see these kinds of things, so I got ready to forward the email to her. But I quickly typed a tongue-in-cheek line to her first.

(There are two things you have to know about my response before I share it: 1) TESU is an adult education school, meaning most of the students are in their thirties, forties, or fifties, and 2) I did my entire education long-distance so I interacted personally with very few students.)

Which is why you might understand my joking response to Mom: "Want to go to a fancy restaurant in Princeton in 10 days and hang out with a bunch of old people I don't know?"

The only thing is, I didn't send this to Mom.

I sent it back to Roxanne - the lady from Alumni Affairs who sent me the original email.

Yes. I did that. Then I started laughing because it was kind of funny.

Don't worry, though. I hastily typed a new email to Roxanne explaining that my reply was not meant for her, it was meant for my mom, it was supposed to be a joke, I'm only 18, I'm really sorry, etc., etc.

Was it a sin? I don't think so. But it was still dumb and reminded me of my fallibility. It pointed out my need for grace.

I was recently thinking about this. Only people who recognize that they mess up and do dumb stuff really get grace. The perfectionists balk at it because they think grace is beneath them. But whether we know it or not, we all need grace - because we all do dumb stuff. Doing dumb stuff makes us human.

That's why Christians can have hope. In the midst of the dumb stuff we do, we have grace. We depend on it. Everything good in our lives is because of Jesus and grace is no exception. Grace is life's greatest relief and mightiest joy. And when we are dumb, that is really good news.

But I'm still sorry, Roxanne.

My Friend, the Perfectionist

I'd like you to meet my friend. I know her very well. She's nice and has a nearly implacable public aura. She's also a perfectionist and rather proud of it. She often thinks to herself (while rarely saying out loud) that perfectionism is a condition of the over-achiever, a singularity of the assiduous. She has come to think of perfectionism as an advantage, not a foible.

But I think she's lost her way. Her perfectionism is not an attention to detail and a drive to do her best for a worthy reason. Oh, she's deceived herself to think that this is the case, that perfectionism is making her a better student, person, and Christian. She thinks that as long as she thanks God for her A's and the praise that others give her that her perfectionism is somehow glorifying to Him.

She doesn't realize that her perfectionism is all about her. It's about feeding her pride and crafting an image. Really, it's not about striving to be perfect; it's about striving to look perfect and have others think of her as perfect. She's a perfectionist and a people-pleaser, a man-fearer, not a God-fearer. She's obsessed with image and wanting to feel good about herself. She is proud.

Like I said, I think she's lost her way.

Maybe you know someone like her. Maybe you are her. What my friend needs to know today is that masquerading perfectionism as a noble character trait is deception; perfectionism is sin. Surely paying attention to detail and striving to do our best for the glory of God is not sin. That is a careful Christian's virtue. Perfectionism is a drive to look perfect, a vice of arrogance.

The perfectionist has no time for the beauty of grace. As Hayley DiMarco writes,

The perfectionist has no time for grace, and in the path of perfectionism lies battered relationships that experience the prideful wrath of the moments when perfection fails.

But know today that there is also freedom from the pressures of perfectionism's chains. That freedom comes in humility and submission and repentance, an active acknowledgement of self-reliance and pride and a confession of man-fearing over God-exaltation. Furthermore, it comes through a pursuit of gentleness and worship of the only perfect Being. DiMarco again:

Gentleness carries with it a sober understanding of who we are, broken and frail, fallen and unrighteous. It agrees with God and can claim that only Christ is perfect. It doesn’t, in pride, demand more of itself, as if it were better than others, but instead agrees with God that we are sinners saved by grace and unable to make ourselves perfect, no matter how hard we work.

Know that there is forgiveness and relief for the perfectionist today. And for my friend, there is freedom.

Be an Advent Gift of Encouragement

Jon Bloom at Desiring God:

"For most of us, Advent is not a season of peace. It’s an extraordinarily busy, often stressful season. That is not necessarily a bad thing.

The first Advent was certainly anything but peaceful. It began with a contemplation of divorce, was accompanied by numerous confusing, unplanned detours, and was consummated in a stable of desperation. The Prince of peace brought a lot of turmoil with him when he came. And I think this implies that, in God’s judgment, what we may need at Christmas is not less turmoil, but more trust.

The Beautiful Busy-ness of Love

It really is a beautiful thing that the season of Advent is a season of giving. And as Jesus demonstrated by his life and his death, true giving, the kind of giving born of love, is costly. It makes life more complicated and messy and busy. But that’s okay, for there is a profound blessing in the busy-ness of love: “it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). And God loves a cheerful giver and promises to make all grace abound to us when we cheerfully give grace to others (2 Corinthians 9:7–8).

What to Give This Christmas
That’s what we want especially to give to others this Christmas: grace. And one particular grace to focus on in our Christmas giving this year is encouragement. What if we seek not to merely ask what our loved one or neighbor would like, but what would most encourage him or her?"

Image Credit:

The Gospel and Black Friday

The zany busyness of Black Friday is a product of a consumeristic culture. This day after American Thanksgiving has become known for being a blur of outrageous deals, wild sales, BOGOs, coupons, saving cards, and massive clearance racks. Last year, 15,000 people lined up outside of Macy's in New York City before the store opened on Black Friday. Canada is nowhere close to having the Americans' zeal and passion for this shopping day, but we try our best - hosting lavish deals and weekend-long sales.

It strikes me how much the gospel's message clashes with Black Friday. This is not to say that you shouldn't shop anywhere today. Absolutely not! Join the fun, but don't sweat the small stuff. And don't get drawn into the sin Black Friday can tempt you toward.

See how the message of Black Friday opposes the gospel:

Black Friday's mania is bred out of a culture of selfishness, a desire to get what you want, a desire to have the best deal. The gospel is centred around selflessness, as God humbled Himself to the form of a man.

Black Friday has become all about being first, first in line, first parking spot at the mall. The gospel is all about being last, when Christ said, "The first will be last and the last will be first."

Black Friday is all about wanting to be served. The gospel is all about Christ coming not to be served but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many.

Black Friday is all about spending as little as possible. The gospel is all about God sacrificing the most valuable thing in eternity - His Son.

Black Friday's frenzy is all about glorifying ourselves. The gospel is all about glorifying God.

Enjoy Black Friday, but don't let its mania distract you from the goodness of the gospel.

Pain and Grace in the Doctor's Office

Some of us might roll our eyes at Jonathan Edwards' tenth resolution. Facetious, we might say. Hyper-spiritualized, or absurd. His tenth resolution (from his famous list of Seventy Resolutions) was:

Resolved, when I feel pain, to think of the pains of martyrdom, and of hell.

On Sunday afternoon I spent almost two hours in a doctor's waiting room, bored out of my mind with a bad cough, only to be diagnosed with asthmatic bronchitis. All around me were people with colds and coughs and high blood pressure and bad knees and bad backs and morning sickness and pain. Lots and lots of pain surrounded me. My own chest was starting to hurt.

And after I had been waiting for just about an hour and forty minutes or so and I had finished my book and my patience felt like a rubber band on the point of breaking, I thought of Edwards' tenth resolution. And I felt conviction. I started praying. I prayed for patience. I prayed for the people around me. I prayed for the persecuted church.

And then the doctor called me in.

I am not saying this to brag. Rather, I have more to be ashamed about than to brag about. I sat and stewed in that stuffy waiting room for two hours, frustrated and tired and hoping desperately that I could get into the doctor before the exhausted lady in sweats next to me. Prayer never crossed my mind once. I focused selfishly on me. I was my priority. I was uncomfortable. Everything was all about me.

Then suddenly, it wasn't. Edwards' tenth resolution didn't pop into my mind by chance. I am certain that the Holy Spirit brought it to memory for a specific reason. It convicted me of my selfishness, my impatience, my weak understanding of what real pain is. I have a cough. William Tyndale was burned at the stake.

Sometimes we need our priorities adjusted.

How blessed I am to be able to sit in a (mostly) clean medical clinic and receive care for a cough. How blessed I am to have a book to read, to have been able to drive to the clinic on my own in a functioning car, to be able to walk right in. And how blessed I am to go home to my dad's chili and have a mom who will pick up my prescription for me.

There is always a lesson to be found if we look for it. There are always opportunities for conviction and grace among the mundane. My question is: do we look for them?

God Forgives and Forgets (And You Should Too)

There was a verse in Hebrews that used to cause me a great deal of discomfort.

[The Lord said] "For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more." (Hebrews 8:12)

There was a pause. Something seemed terribly awry. How can an omniscient Judge forget somebody's sins? This seems all askew, out of whack. God forgets?

Yes. God forgets. But not in the way you think, or forget. We forget unintentionally. Things just sort of get etched out of our minds over time and new things sprout up and grow in their place. Sometimes we forget to take our car keys or pick up milk, little things from a close proximity ago, things we should easily remember (my dad and I are terrible for this). Other times we forget things from long ago, big things, like the day we were born. But ours is never an intentional forgetfulness.

God's is. But because He is omniscient and we will be "held accountable to God" (Romans 3:19), His forgetfulness is not a permanent erasing of sin. In other words, He isn't unable to remember our sin. He is no scatter brain, misplacing the record of our lies or thoughtless words somewhere. His forgetfulness is an active putting away of the sin that is being held against us. It is intrinsically connected to forgiveness. God forgives us and He stops holding that sin against us in judgement. 

In that particular way, God forgives and forgets. (Don't use that phrase without a careful explanation and understanding of the way that God forgets.) Thus, in a way that models the merciful character of God, we too should exercise forgiveness and the grace of forgetfulness. People will do heinous things to us. That doesn't mean we forget their deeds; sometimes we can't. But it means that we stop holding that sin against them. We forget by forgiving.

At one time Peter didn't really understand forgiveness. There was an occasion when he approached Jesus and asked Him, "Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?" And then Jesus radicalized Peter's understanding of forgiveness and answered him, "I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times" (Matthew 18:21-22). There is no limit to the forgiveness we are called to extend. Forgive somebody seven times, seventy-seven times, two thousand times, or more. Forgiveness is a discipline, necessary, albeit difficult. But we are called to it. We are called to it endlessly. At least, until the day comes where we have nothing more to forgive. 

So what will you forgive and forget today?

How to Decide About Your Next Job

Tomorrow I go to my second shift of my first job. Deciding on this particular job was not difficult for me, even though I had other options. I was excited about the integrity of the company, the products they sell, the type of people I'd be working with, the discount (I know, I'm pathetic), the hours they offered, the opportunity for evangelism, the tasks I'd be involved in, and the chance to glorify God through the new experience in my life.

A week and a half into September, about a week and a half before I had my first interview with this job, I came upon an article by John Piper that gave me some gentle, encouraging counsel. Whether you're looking for your first or third or tenth job, he provides some rich advice on deciding about that next job.

In 1997 I put a list of Bible texts together to help folks think through what job to pursue. Below I have taken that list and added comments to flesh out more specifically what I had in mind. 
My prayer is that these thoughts will help saturate your mind with the centrality of Christ in all of life. He made you to work. And he cares about what you do with the half of your waking life called “vocation.” He wants you to rejoice in it. And he wants to be glorified in it. 
May the Lord position you strategically in the workplace, as only he can when his people care deeply about these kinds of questions.

Piper asks twelve questions ranging from "Does the aim of this job cohere with a growing intensity in your life to be radically, publicly, fruitfully devoted to Christ at any cost?" to "Will the job feel like a good investment of your life when these 'two seconds' of preparation for eternity are over?" to "Is taking this job part of a strategy to grow in personal holiness?"

Read and be edified.

What I Learned from Failure

You could call me a successful person. I'm a hard worker, I get good grades, and I don't fail tests. Actually, I don't really fail much.

So while failing your first driving test may not seem like a big deal to you, to me it was crushing. It was a week before my birthday, a month ago. Though I was nervous, I was desperately confident. When I backed into that spot at the DMV, clicked on the parking brake, and turned to my instructor with bright eyes and an expectant smile, I was ready for success. I was ready to hear, "You passed."

I didn't hear that. Instead I heard, "I can't pass you today." Failure. Instant and bitter and cold and unexpected. My stomach dropped and with a slightly trembling lower lip, I stepped back inside and told Mom. She could read it in my eyes before I said anything. I failed.

Since that test, I've learned a lot about failure. Both my parents and I refused to let this failure be wasted. It was a learning opportunity. Now as I look back, there was a lot I learned from failure. And here are a few things:

Failure is only failure if you don't learn from it. It sounds cliche and trite and perfect for a Pinterest inspirational quote board, but it's true. Everything God gives us is because He knows that it is best for us. Everything is for our good. And He expects us to give Him the glory and to become more sanctified through our experiences. Failure is a growing experience. Failure is a sanctifying experience. It should make us better Christians.

Failure exposes pride. Jon Bloom said that pride is the pathological core of all of our sin, and nothing reveals the crippling pride in my heart like failure. Why was I so disappointed that I failed my road test? It's just a road test. The answer is wrapped up within my own pride. I wanted to pass for my own glory and good. Coming away from that failure, I felt my sin exposed nakedly before me. I am proud. This truth was stapled to my failure. If I had passed, I would never have realized the depths of my sin. Failure, meanwhile, was used by the Spirit to expose my sin blackly before me and convict me and lead me to repentance.

Failure makes me a more realistic person. Being someone who's rather alien to the concept of failure, the "real world" is going to seem pretty bleak if I don't at least have some experience with failure. Success will not be guaranteed solely by hard work. More failure is going to come - worse failure than road tests. And if I don't know how to deal with it, it will destroy me.

Failure makes me work harder. My road test instructor gave me a checklist of reasons why I failed. I memorized that list and I learned from it. I worked harder. I pushed for success. Just because I know failure might come, it doesn't mean that I ever stop doing my best and trying my hardest. And failure just means I have to work harder than before.

Failure is not the end of the world as I know it. So I've been known to be a bit of a dramatic soul. I feel things very deeply and sometimes respond to disappointment irrationally. I felt devastated after my failure. It took some tough love from Mom to get me to look at things more objectively. Because no matter how I feel, failure is not the end of my world. Failure is only a negative experience if you let it be. If you let feelings dictate what you think, you'll find your failure wasted.

Failure makes success sweeter. And the happy ending to my failure story is that yesterday, success came. I passed my road test and my new license sleeps happily in my wallet. There is no way that I could have possibly felt this good about passing if I had not failed my first test. Failure makes victory so much richer and more meaningful. I can look back on my first failure and smile. Sure, it still stings, but its sting just reminds me that I have to learn from it and refuse to waste it.

Nobody wants failure. I don't. But regardless of what we'd like, it's going to come and we're going to have to deal with it. We can waste it. We can sin because of it. We can let it destroy us. Or we can use it for our good and the glory of God. We can learn from it. We can become better people because of it. We can let it teach us.

I'm Better than Jesus (I Think)

I usually consider myself a very spiritual Christian. You see, I have this invisible rule book in my head with lists of esteemed religious rules. I pretty much obsess over them - that's what we truly spiritual people do, right? And all of this is out of strict obedience to God. These rules cover many important topics, like:

- exactly what is acceptable behaviour during (and before and after) a worship service
- what people should say on Twitter
- what books people should read and what movies they should see
- how they should teach a Bible lesson
- what they should be praying for (specifically)
- what tone of voice they should use

You know, ridiculously important things like that. Recently I discovered that the Bible even has a name for really spiritual people like me, with my regiment of self-imposed, extrabiblical rules.

I'm a Pharisee.

In other words, I am like the hyper-religious leaders in Jesus' day. I have a strict moral code (made of dozens of rules that reflect mere personal opinion) that I judge others by. I can be hypocritical. I can be proud. And the worst of all, sometimes I think I'm better than Jesus.

What a horrible, horrible thing to think, is it not? But I do. And I wonder sometimes if you do too. I would never necessarily say that, but I act like it. I act like what Jesus did and said was not enough. I need more rules. More specific. Better. And sometimes Jesus got His hands dirty when I just washed mine, and He condescended to serve sinners when I think I'm too good for others, and He showed grace when I would have exacted vengeance. And He is holy, and I'm darkly sinful.

But there is good news for the sinful twenty-first century Pharisee today. That man who we judged has shown us grace at the cross. He died for our hypocrisy, our self-righteousness, our false vanity. And so we can cling to the hope He gives, the mercy He extends. So let us not trust in ourselves, but rest solely in Him.

"Do not trust in yourself, lest sin thereby have much more power over you." - Augustine

"The place where God has supremely destroyed all human arrogance and pretension is the cross." - D.A. Carson

Not by Sight: A Review

Not by Sight: A Fresh Look at Old Stories of Walking by Faith by Jon Bloom was a joy both to read and to meditate on. Its call to a freshness and wonder at the true stories the Bible contains was beautiful. Bloom has a way with words, and I have often enjoyed his frequent contributions to Desiring God. This book was filled with all the beauty of the gospel displayed vividly through Bloom's words, and so this review is a hearty commendation of the book.

Not by Sight is divided into 35 chapters that can be read alone or together. They're not long, and each covers a short passage of Scripture, mostly well-known stories throughout the Gospels and the Old Testament, like Jesus walking on water, the feeding of the five thousand, the calls of Zacchaeus and Levi, the raising of Lazarus, David and Bathsheba, Joseph, and the adulteress woman, just to name a few. These chapters share a snapshot retelling of the story and then a few reflections and lessons from it.

Bloom is clear about the purpose of Not by Sight:

The purpose of this little book is to imaginatively reflect on the real experiences of real people in the Bible in order to help you grasp and live what it means to "trust in the Lord with all your heart, and ... not lean on your own understanding" (Prov. 3:5). Its goal is to help you believe in Jesus while living in a very confusing and painful world. 

And Bloom winsomely accomplishes this. He knows the necessity of calling sin out, not willing to shy away from identifying errors in biblical characters' lives. After all, they were real sinners, just like we are. Both they and we are proud and idolatrous and frustrated and desperate individuals. But Bloom always showcases the beauty of Jesus' grace that paid for those real sins, and the reality that that grace inspires - faith, in His Word and in His power. For we are often distracted by the world. As Bloom says,

It is crucial that followers of Jesus learn to "walk by faith, not by sight" (2 Cor. 5:7). In other words, we must learn to trust God's promises more than we trust our perceptions.

Not by Sight also reawakens us to the wonder and mystery of how God works and saves. Our hearts must never grow cold at the miracles in the Gospels, or the changes God has wrought in depraved hearts. Don't be calloused by familiarity. Jesus walked on water. He defied His own created laws of gravity! Think of the storm howling, and just pause. Peter got out of the boat and walked toward Jesus - and he didn't sink. How can we have lost the wonder? Bloom does a brilliant job of bringing us back to the wonder.

I would heartily recommend this book to you. Beautifully imaginative, staunchly biblical, both convicting and liberating, full of grace and faith and truth, Not by Sight is a book for all Christians in any walk of life. It's theological, but not thick with technical terms, written for the lay-Christian but applicable for pastors. It's for all of us, irrelevant to none of us, and convicting and encouraging to each of us. So pick one of these books up and then pass it along!

Buy Not by Sight here. 

God's Grace is Not Infinite

So for some time now you people have had to put up with ... ahem ... have got the privilege to read quotes and my (many) thoughts on the wonderful book, Knowing God, by J. I. Packer. But now I've finished that book and started The Holiness of God by R. C. Sproul. So you now get to read quotes and hear my thoughts on this book. In his chapter, "Holy Justice," Sproul works to show how God's holiness and His justice fit together. In this section, he looks at God's grace vs. His justice:
"I remember preaching a 'practice sermon' in preaching class in seminary. In my sermon I was extolling the marvels of God's grace. As the hymn says, I spoke of 'God's grace, infinite grace.' At the end of my sermon the professor had a question for me. 'Mr. Sproul,' he said, 'where did you ever get the idea that God's grace is infinite? Is there absolutely no limit to His grace?' As soon as he asked that question, I knew I was in trouble. I could quote him chapter and verse of the hymn that taught me that, but somehow I couldn't come up with a single Scripture verse that taught God's grace is infinite."
R. C. Sproul continues on to say, "The reason I couldn't find any Scripture passage to support my statement is because there is none. God's grace is not infinite. God is infinite, and God is gracious. We experience the grace of an infinite God, but grace is not infinite. God sets limits to His patience and forbearance. He warns us over and over again that someday the ax will fall and His judgment will be poured out."

How many times have I sang that hymn, thinking all the while, "Oh yes, of course God's grace is infinite. What a silly thing to question!" But I never took the time to really think about that statement and ask, "Now where is the Scriptural evidence for it?" Because if I did, I would have found none. Yes, our God is gracious, but He is also just. If God's grace was infinite, He couldn't be just. The actual definition of infinite is "unbounded or unlimited." If there were no bounds to God's grace, then He simply couldn't ever pronounce judgment, a thing as a just God, He must do.

So the next time you sing that hymn, think about God's grace, think about His infiniteness, think about His justice, but remember that His grace is not infinite. He is a righteous Judge, and when the time comes, He will act and He will punish.

Life Lessons from 'Pilgrim's Progress' - Part 2

I promised you two quotes from 'Pilgrim's Progress,' so here is your second one ...

"Then the Interpreter brought Christian to a fireplace. A man stood there in a rage, throwing buckets of water on the fire. But with each dash of water, the fire only burned brighter. Now the Interpreter took Christian behind the wall, where a man stood throwing fuel on the fire. 'What does all this mean?' asked Christian. 'This fire is the work of grace in a person's heart,' said the Interpreter. 'The man trying to quench the fire is the devil. The man fueling the fire is Christ, Who always keeps alive every work He begins in a person's heart.' "

Though the devil tries to burn out the light of Christ within us, Christ gives us the power to withstand the devil's schemes (Ephesians 6:11). We need to tap into the power that Christ gives us. We need to allow Him to fuel our lives with grace and strength and mercy. We can never become un-saved. Even if the devil burns down Christ's fire within us to just a little spark, we still have that little spark and that little spark isn't ever going out! The devil is against us but Christ is for us and He has already won the victory over Satan. He is all we need. "If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31) But if we haven't already, we need to invite Christ to start a fire within us. To do that, we need to:

  1. A- Admit to God you are a sinner. (Romans 3:23)
  2. B- Believe that Jesus is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9)
  3. C- Confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord. (Romans 10:9)

Life Lessons from 'A Pilgrim's Progress' - Part 1

I learned two life lessons from the book, 'Pilgrim's Progress', by John Bunyan. I'd like to share them with you and encourage you to meditate on them. The first is in this quote from 'Pilgrim's Progress.'

"The Interpreter lit a candle and led Christian into a parlor where the floor was covered with dust. A man came in and began to sweep. As he swept, the dust flew about the room so that Christian could hardly breathe. "Now bring the water," said the Interpreter. A girl entered, sprinkled water about the room, then swept it clean. "Now I will tell you what this means," said the Interpreter. "This parlor is the heart of a person lost in sin. The dust is his sin. The sweeper is the Law, which stirs up but can not clean. The water is the gospel, which washes the heart clean."

What a great analogy! God's law convicts us and points out our sin. The more we are aware of the Law's demands for perfection, the more we are aware of our sin. We're so choked up in our knowledge of sin that we can hardly breathe. But then the gospel comes in and rescues us. Jesus douses the choking sin with grace. The horrible helplessness we have over our sin recedes and we are able to breathe again! All thanks to Jesus and His grace. Here's a way to remember the definition of 'grace.'


In the words of Julia H. Johnston, "Grace, grace, God’s grace, grace that will pardon and cleanse within; grace, grace, God’s grace, grace that is greater than all our sin."

Only Treats, No Tricks

Happy Halloween, readers. Today, as it is October 31, you may be going out trick-or-treating. Maybe you aren't, but your kids or grandkids are. Whenever you (or your kids/grandkids) go up to a door on Halloween night, all dressed up, what do you (they) say? 'Trick-or-treat!' Hence, the people at the house gives you (them) some candy.

The phrase 'trick-or-treat' originated from the olden days (no, not when our parents were kids, even farther back). People would literally play tricks on people that didn't give them anything. Instead of candy, people gave out coins, apples, nuts. So, Halloween in the olden days, doesn't sound like much fun.

Did you know that there's no tricks with Jesus? Only treats. When you turn to Him, you aren't going to get any shocking surprises. He tells you that Christianity will be difficult, yet rewarding. Jesus does not trick us into Christianity with false lies of health, wealth, and happiness. He warns us of the difficult times, but He also shares with us that times of happiness and joy will come. To become a Christian you have to:

1. A- Admit to God you are a sinner. (Romans 3:23)
2. B- Believe that Jesus is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9)
3. C- Confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord. (Romans 10:9)