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Shadow of Grace

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Every time I go to a church-leadership conference, I come away questioning my pastoral manhood. That happened this past week, as I listened to some of the best and brightest preachers at an excellent conference in Atlanta. 

When I hear powerful messages with near-perfect delivery flow through almost flawless-looking human beings, part of me comes away inspired and part of me comes away deflated. “I could never preach like that. I don’t have that 'cool' factor that churches are really looking for these days.  I don’t have that great of a delivery.  Why would anybody want to listen to me?”

And then I re-read a section in David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyon’s excellent book, Good Faith: Being a Christian When Society Thinks You’re Irrelevant and Extreme. Kinnaman tells the story of his son, Cade, being born with Down syndrome. Through Cade’s delayed mental and physical development, Kinnaman and his wife began to experience joy and beauty in God’s upside-down kingdom.

Cade became their teacher showing them how gentleness can interrupt self-consumed souls. Although he is considered “disabled,” Cade demonstrates uncanny gifts and abilities in sensing people’s temperaments and connecting with those who otherwise would have remained unconnected. 

Kinnaman draws the conclusion: “This is the upside-down way of Jesus that makes a world in which disability is a grace.  The gift of Cade saved my life” (150).

In reading Kinnaman’s insights, I was reminded that success in God’s Kingdom is not measured by what’s seen on the surface but by what’s developed in the heart.  Some of our greatest teachers come to us in vessels of hidden grace.  When we look past the façade, we see truth cloaked in humility, beauty wrapped in the ordinary and love seeping through the crevices of brokenness. 

In those moments when you feel inadequate, small, or insignificant in the shadow of what the world calls great, remember that you follow the One whose shadow of grace covers all who are willing to step into its shade.  Jesus casts the shadow of grace, who “had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.  He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not” (Isaiah 53:2b-3, ESV).

Let’s all be grateful for the grace of disability, and let’s step into the shadow of Jesus’ grace. 

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with

Stop the Horrible Music!

I knew this would happen.

If confession is good for the soul, then here you go.  It’s only been six weeks since I’ve been back from my sabbatical, and I’m already slipping back into my old pattern and pace. Hopefully, as you take time to read this, you will be encouraged to join me in renewing a commitment to a healthy life rhythm.

Noah benShea once wrote, “It’s the space between the notes that makes the music” (Jacob the Baker: Wisdom for the Heart’s Ascent).  Some of us are living a cacophony of horrible music because we aren’t creating any space between the notes.

Jesus regularly lived life in the space between the notes.  He often withdrew from the rush of the urgent to focus on the value of the important.  He taught His disciples to embrace a healthy life rhythm: “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest for a while” (Mark 6:31).

Sandy, my assistant, typed up an acronym from the word “BREATH” and put it on my desk before I returned from my sabbatical.  I see it every day, and I need to live it. 

B—believe in yourself and how God has gifted you.
R—remember the things you love about your role.
E—exhale, inhale and exhale again.
A—add some new parameters to your work (invent and reinvent).
T—temperance.  Avoid the things you used to do but want to stop.
H—have fun.  Create a healthy balance between work and play.

Pretty good advice.  Now I just need to live it.

The Jews have a Sabbath tradition called the Havdalah that reflects the value of a healthy life rhythm.  The Havdalahtakes place at the end of Sabbath when a husband or wife spills some of the Sabbath wine into a saucer and extinguishes a candle by dipping it into the wine.  The spilled wine symbolizes the Sabbath’s impact to spill over into the rest of the week.

When you live a healthy life rhythm, the benefits spill over into every area of your life.  When you create space between the notes, you discover that the noise of your life actually turns into music (Lance Witt, Replenish).

As I challenge myself through the words I’ve written, I challenge you as you read them.  We CAN do something about this.  Good intentions must become good decisions, and good decisions must lead to action.  Why not take some time right now to think about what needs to change in your life in order to create some space between the notes?

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with

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