GraceWaves Articles

Is Life a DIY Project?

“Seek first the kingdom of God.” Matthew 6:33 City Slickers came out in 1991 and provided all of us young preachers at the time a wonderful illustration about what is most important in life. Mitch (Billy Crystal), an aging yuppie, is beginning to come to grips with the fact that his increasingly busy life is increasingly meaningless. With two equally confused friends he goes on a two-week cattle drive in the hope of figuring out life. The trail boss for the cattle drive, Curly (Jack Palance, a man so craggy you’d think he was the offspring of a butte and

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You Can Draw Close to God

“For through Him we both have the right of entry in one Spirit to the Father.” Eph. 2:18 Ephesians is Paul’s most lovely and soaring letter. He touches on themes of such grand and sweeping importance that even he gets caught up in the excitement. The longest sentences in all of Paul’s writings are in Ephesians. Two of his main themes are in the verse for this week’s GraceWaves. First we see unity. Paul was formerly a dedicated schismatic. For him the world consisted of two groups: the Jews and the Gentiles. To be fair from the other side, the

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Why Do You Love Me So?

“We love because God first loved us.” 1 John 4:19 A few weeks ago, I was enjoying playing with my nearly four-year-old grandson, Beckett. He was on the tree swing, and I was pushing. It was one of those glorious, beautiful, perfect weather granddaddy days. It’s etched in my memory. One mental frame I’ll treasure forever is when Beckett was swinging toward me, smiling, with blond hair blown back by the warm breeze, enjoying his Gandy as much as his Gandy was enjoying him. He’s a talker, and we had covered a number of topics, none particularly memorable until he

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Trust Your Way Through Fearful Times

“There is no fear in love, for perfect love casts out fear.” 1 John 4:18 When you turn on the television, look at a news website, even engage in some social media, what you likely feel is fear. Fear cuts across political affiliation, race, gender, religion, denomination,  or any of the other endless things that divide us. You may think it’s anger, but anger is a secondary emotion. Someone once told me, “if you want to see how fearful I am, watch how angry I get.” It’s fear. In another important book in my life, we find these words about

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The Prayer of St. Francis

More than a handful of faithful GraceWaves readers have remarked that they wish I had printed The Prayer of St. Francis I referenced in this week’s offering. I’d thought about doing exactly that but wanted to keep from adding to an already lengthy GraceWave. A further encouragement today has prompted me to send it out to you. So, the prayer is printed below, and I do encourage you to pray it regularly and even commit it to memory. It is such a comfort to me when I wake up in the middle of the night with events of the day

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In Troubled Times We Need Instruments of Peace

“Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace…” St. Francis of Assisi Anyone who has a public platform regularly faces the challenge of trying to address a topic that everyone is talking about and everyone has strong opinions about. I’ve lived with such a role for nearly 40 years and know after all this time that on such matters you can be confident of two things: First, some people will disagree or misunderstand. And second, any fear you might have of such response does not relieve you of the responsibility to address challenging topics. I watched the video of Mr.

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When Praise Seems Out of Place

“Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let Thy glory be over all the earth!” Psalm 57:11 This burst of praise from David is typical of much of the Psalms, many of which have been sung and chanted in both synagogues and churches for nearly 3000 years for this very reason. There’s something about praise that feeds the soul. Unfortunately, however, often our praises fall silent when we need them most. We do tend to associate praise with good and even ebullient times, and this can be very helpful and appropriate. My back porch faces east toward an undeveloped tract

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Hearing Voices (part 4) The Voice of God

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16 The most important and fundamental question in life is “What does God think of me?” What is your answer? The answer determines literally everything. If you decide He doesn’t care, then you’re on your own. If you believe He rejects or is angry with you, then fear will rule your life. If you believe God is reluctant or disappointed in you, then you will feel highly insecure as you struggle to meet His out-of-reach

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Hearing Voices (part 3) The Voice of the Encourager

“Be strong and courageous…for the Lord your God goes with you. He will never leave you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6 I would have liked Barnabas. He was the older cousin of John Mark, a young man we met in the book of Acts a couple of weeks ago. John Mark had run afoul of Paul, the great Apostle to the Gentiles, when he had left him and Barnabas in the middle of a missionary journey. When Barnabas proposed a second trip, Paul aggressively opposed taking John Mark with them. The two men went separate ways. John Mark heard the

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Hearing Voices (part 2): The Voice of the Critic

Theodore got it wrong, and he got it right. I’m referring to Theodore Roosevelt who said "It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms,

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Hearing Voices (Part 1)

“And there arose a sharp contention between Paul and Barnabas, so that they separated from one another.” Acts 15:39 What I’m about to share with you today is simply a great story from the book of Acts. I’m going to use this story over the next three weeks to talk about the three voices you need to listen to in life when you’re in the middle of a contentious situation. The story is really the backstory for the verse “there arose a sharp contention between Paul and Barnabas, so that they separated.” The two leading missionary figures of the day,

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Invite God Into Your Pain

“In the world you will have tribulation, but rejoice for I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 I’ve noticed that over the last several weeks I’ve touched often on the topic of suffering. This doesn’t represent a plan on my part necessarily, for I really try to let topics come to me through prayer and what I happen to see at the time. It seems, I suppose, that trials and difficulties have caught my attention a bit more than usual lately. It's an important topic, of course, and one that nearly everyone can relate to any given day. In my

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Are You Crazy?

“And the peace of God which passes all understanding will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7 I’m fairly sure it’s not an official DSM diagnosis, but I believe many of us suffer from just plain craziness. Are you crazy? Before you answer no let’s dig into the notion of craziness for a minute. The English word “crazy” appears to be derived from a Middle English word meaning “to crush.” In turn, that old word likely derives from the French word “ecraser” which means “to crush, break, or shatter.” While you may not be completely crushed, broken,

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The Paper Towel Tube

“Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. She went and filled the skin and gave the lad a drink.” Genesis 21:19 Imagine looking through a paper towel tube like you did when you were a kid. What you see is a very limited circle of reality. Now keep that in mind as we fill in some backstory. Hagar is the woman in this verse. She was Abraham’s concubine, a “gift” from Sarah, his wife, to bear him a child. As a practical aside here, wives don’t do this. Husbands don’t suggest it. In case there

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The Way to Stop Hating One Another

“What is man that Thou are mindful of him?” Psalm 8:4 Does the night sky make you feel insignificant? Most people reading this have a very limited access to the night sky, our city lights washing out all but a relative few bright points. But when you had a chance to see the vastness of our galaxy, perhaps even seeing the slash of the Milky Way across the night sky, did you feel small? That would be understandable. But did you feel insignificant? That’s hazardous. In his book, Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, Neil de Grasse Tyson tells of

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