Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Did I pass or fail? What's my grade?

I have been burdened of late by the enormous weight we carry to make the grade...to succeed...to not disappoint...to pass. I was spending some time with a brother last week who is not able to live in the grace that is ours through Christ. He believes it in his head, but his heart won't receive it and thus, he stays in bondage to performance. I felt the Lord speaking to me: "Tell him I am not giving him a grade. The kingdom is not about pass/fail." It's almost as if the captives that have been set free (Isaiah 61 and Luke 4) refuse to walk out...

"All you need is need." Our pastor spoke these words two Sundays ago as he introduced Galatians to our church up here. And then after the service, I learned that my kids get $20 in mountain money for doing a devotional and memorizing a verse. What? My 7 year old needs to hear "all you need is need" and not "be a good Christian and you get fake money that will buy you toys." God's grace is enough...and I desire for his spiritual life to be motivated by his heart and not by what he gets if he does something. I desire the same for myself. There's a big difference between duty and desire. When we perform spiritually for the reward (a good name, respect, ministry influence, moutain money, etc.) instead of obey out love and worship for the King, we embrace the false theology of achievement instead of a theology of alignment. When we perform spiritually, we are prone to give in to the pressure to impress or hide. If all you need is need, then why does the church seem to be void of people crying out for mercy and letting their need be known without shame. The lady in Luke 7 didn't hide and she didn't care to impress. She needed grace and mercy. And Jesus made an example out of her faith.

Don't get me wrong, there is a reward (66 verses reference reward in the text). A life of faith that is wholly surrendered to Jesus brings big reward...grace for today and hope for tomorrow. I want that to be enough for me, but I have to confess that it isn't most of the time. Asaph's resolution at the end of Psalm 73 is piercing to me. "Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth I desire besides you." Whoa. I have a long way to go...but I am free in God's grace as I traverse my life and cling to the truth of who I am in Christ. I am not ok. And I am ok with not being ok. In my experience, the more I have needed Him, the more I have gotten Him.

Swain Family Updates:
  1. Jacson is doing very well in the second grade. He has way more friends than the rest of us combined. Basketball season starts for him next week.
  2. Ellie is super busy and mommy is busy loving her and keeping her in line. We have decided to keep Ellie out of pre-school and build into her before she starts kindergarten. We are seeing results (she is our strong willed one). She has already told us that she will not be changing her last name when she gets married one day.
  3. Savannah is determined to not be a "big girl." Pottie training is in a far off distant land...and she is 2.5 years.
  4. Lindsay is building friendships and her new business venture with Market America. She is plugging back in with BSF and is excited about studying Moses.
  5. I am enjoying "ministry of availability." Being a shepparding/care pastor provides many opportunities to listen to people and walk with them.
  6. Alska is getting colder. "Termination Dust" has already fallen on the moutain peaks and we are told that our kids will be trick or treating in snow boots. It hasn't gotten below freezing yet, but we are already in the 30s at night. Right now, it gets light a little after 7 and gets dark about 8 PM. The dark days are Nov-Jan.
on the top of flattop moutain...now covered with a few inches of snow
Ellie is all pink...all the time. I had to persuade her to not wear a dress for the hike
You can barely tell, but Jacson is showing loosing his front tooth

Until next time...Grace and Hope to you!
Jason

2 comments:

Applied Catalysts said...

Sounds like Ellie & Lulu can be friends!! Strong willed children. Love the Swains!! Go Dores!!

julieleavitt said...

so glad to hear of another 2.5 year old who isn't "there" with the whole potty-training deal! sophie could care less...and quite frankly i don't even know if SHE always knows when she has to go...that is until it's on the floor. :D
thanks for sharing all your musings.