GraceWaves Articles

My Daughter the Catholic

“There is one body and one Spirit…one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all.” Ephesians 4:4-6 Lauren, my daughter, will be confirmed as a Catholic this coming Tuesday and receive the Eucharist. After nearly a year or more of prayer, discussions with a trusted friend, and RCIA classes she’s made this decision. I’ve enjoyed our own discussions about this change. We’ve spent many a lunch hour parsing this and that. As usual, Lauren has been thorough. When she had her first confession earlier this week I asked if she’d made a spread sheet. Her texted

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Is This Honorable?

“Whatever is honorable, think on this.” Philippians 4:8 Have you ever been in a sanctuary alone? I have often. Having been a pastor for 35 years there were times when it seemed like I was contractually obligated to stay until everyone else went home. Kind of like the captain not leaving the ship until everyone else is rescued. The minister’s family loathes this, of course, because it means being last in line at the Piccadilly. But often it comes with the territory. Sunday nights were my favorite time to be there alone. In several churches some of the light switches

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Show Grace to Everyone

“Let your forbearance be made known to all.” Philippians 4:5 When was the last time you used the word “forbearance?” Have you ever used the word? It’s not in the typical vocabulary. It sounds a little old. Perhaps a little churchy. Have you ever said to your spouse during a vigorous discussion “I am forbearing you?” Probably not. Trust me. It doesn’t help anything. One of my all-time favorite passages of scripture is Philippians 4:4-8. In fact, the whole book is one of my favorites and has been for a very long time. I remember Bob Justus, the associate pastor

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Grrrrumbling!

“Do everything without grumbling.” Philippians 2:14 Grumble. It’s onomatopoetic. The first two letters sound like a growl. Grrrr. Many people grumble their way through life, always growling about this or that, or this AND that. You know the kind of person I’m talking about. You might be the kind of person I’m talking about. Grumblers are everywhere. In one of my churches many years ago was an elderly fellow I’ll call Sam. Sam had been in that church since its founding I believe. He had served it faithfully in many, many ways. But he was a grumbler. That man could

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How to Stop Pushing Others Off the Bridge

“There is no longer Jew or Greek, slave or free, male and female; for all of you are one in Christ.” Galatians 3:28 It’s a long, old joke, but still funny and sets up the main issue I want to tackle in this week’s offering: “I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump off. So I ran over and said, "Stop! Don't do it!" "Why shouldn't I?" he said. I said, "Well, there's so much to live for!" He said, "Like what?" I said, "Well, are you religious

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Grace-Weavers

“So will I save you, and you shall be a blessing.” Zechariah 8:13 Many Christians avoid “the little books” of the Old Testament. The collection of minor prophets (they’re even called “minor!”) at the end of the first part of the Bible contains obscure references and often harsh language. But as in all parts of the Bible you find the inspiration if you simply look a little more closely Here’s an example: “And as you have become a byword of cursing among the nations, O house of Judah and house of Israel, so will I save you and you shall

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Life Is for Learning

“You believe in Him and rejoice with unutterable and exalted joy!” 1 Peter 1:8 One of my favorite, old rock songs is Woodstock by Joni Mitchell, who looks and sounds like a woodland elf. I sometimes prefer the Crosby, Stills, Nash version when I want a little more traditional crashing guitar. Also I ran across a recent version by Good Harvest, a female duet, that is harmonic gold and surely worth a listen. The second stanza has the wonderful lyric “I don’t know who I am, but life is for learning.” It reminds me that I don’t have everything nailed

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The Chain of Faith

“We walk by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7 Faith. It’s a mysterious, wonderful, puzzling word. A stumbling block for some, a laughingstock for others, a lifeline for many. What is faith? Let’s start with an analogy. We have five senses, or faculties. You’re using the sense of sight right now to read this, as I am to type it. My air conditioner is running, and I hear the blower. That is the sense of hearing. I can’t smell anything in particular right now, but a few minutes ago my Schnauzer came in to see me and her breath

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Seeing God

"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." Matthew 5:8 Seeing God sounds like a fantasy of the first order, yet I believe everyone, if offered the opportunity, would deeply want to see God. The Bible records a few scenes where people actually saw God. In the Garden, God communed with Adam and Eve in such a familiar way that we might imagine they actually saw God. Of course, the most memorable passage about seeing God is when Moses asked to see Him and God replied that this was impossible, for to do so would result in

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Remembering Mom

“The memory of the righteous is a blessing.” Proverbs 10:7 Mom’s nickname at Lexington Federal Savings and Loan was Sunshine. I was in high school at the time and never asked about its origin, but I knew. Dottie Ellis was a 5’ 2” blue-eyed blond (she humbly called it dishwater blonde that by that stage in her life needed a little extra boost from Clairol to get that “natural look”). Combined with her bright and easy smile, “Sunshine” just fit. My favorite picture of my parents is one from near the end of, or just after, World War II. Dad

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Got Contentment?

"I have learned whatever state I am in to be content.” Philippians 4:11 Do you remember your first job? Do you recall what you were paid? My first job was at Rosemont Grocery, a little full-service grocery store, originally on the outskirts of town but long since having been swallowed up by an ever-growing Lexington. The building was old, with white siding, and a few add-ons over the years, but few cosmetic improvements. It still looked like it had been lifted out of the turn of the century next to a dirt road and plopped down in the middle of

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Slow Spiritual Growth (the only kind)

“So that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold which though perishable is tested by fire, may redound to praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 1:7 Are you where you thought you’d be at this point in life? I’m not talking about geographically, professionally, or financially, but more deeply. Are you handling life better? Do you feel stronger? More settled? More confident? Are you reaping the benefits today of a life-long pursuit of a deeper relationship with God? I don’t recall, frankly, whether it was Leslie or I who said one

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Time to Begin Again

“But go and tell His disciples, and Peter, that He is going before you to Galilee. There you will see Him just as He told you.” Mark 16:7 Once we accept grace as the key to understanding God then we begin to see it everywhere. It’s the light that begins starts at Creation, glows at Eden, comes bursting into full glory on the first Easter, and shines every day. It is the light that sets us free. We need that freedom every day, because that’s about how often we find a way to let fear and doubt imprison us. So

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Pausing for Good Friday

“And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed and after three days rise again.” Mark 8:31 I didn’t grow up with Good Friday. Literally. Part of the backwash in some segments of the Reformation was avoiding the Christian Year, and in my church we didn’t observe Holy Week or even Good Friday. Or Ash Wednesday or Advent or Epiphany, etc. And I didn’t know what a Maundy was. The cross was preached well and sometimes graphically, but

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Need More Grace?

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