Categories
Christian Living grace

#shareHisgrace

Photo by Gary Fultz on Unsplash

After I posted recently about the importance of being kind to others, Barb, from My Life in Our Father’s World , commented with the following hashtag: #shareHisgrace.

While my piece spotlighted the usefulness of people cultivating the good, Barb shined a floodlight on where to find it in its purest form.

Thank you, friend, for bringing the focus back where it belongs—on God. You added to the value of my thoughts exponentially.

I said to the Lord, “You are my Lord; I have nothing good besides You.

Psalm 16:2 (NASB)

This collaborative experience with a fellow believer jogged my memory about a true story of two people who showed uncommon grace to each other. It happened at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin.

Sueo Oe (left) and Shuhei Nishida – source Wikipedia, copyright unknown

Shuhei Nishida and Sueo Oe were two Japanese pole vaulters tied for second place at the summer games. However, as good friends and teammates, they declined to compete against each other (in a jump off) to decide between the silver and the bronze. So the silver was awarded to Nashida and the bronze to Oe, based on the fact that Nashida cleared the height in fewer attempts.

However, when they returned home to Japan, the two athletes did something extraordinary. They had a jeweler cut each of their medals in half and splice together two new ones—half silver and half bronze. They called these creations “Medals of Friendship.”

Source, Wikipedia – copyright unknown

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in it’s various forms.

1 Peter 4:10 (NIV)

A Few Observations

  • It’s God’s gift, not mine — the two athletes valued their friendship more than competition.
  • It’s not MY grace, either — they demonstrated this by committing to something larger than themselves.
  • God’s grace comes in different flavors — the Medals of Friendship were a unique way to show the true depth of their relationship.

My collaboration with Barb (and other believers, on and off-line) reminds me that our life in Christ is a shared experience. We are many members, but ONE body (Romans 12:4-5).

I like to call this interconnection “3 Makes 2”

You and me, with Jesus at the top of the triangle.

Walk in the wisdom of God as you live before the unbelievers, and make it your duty to make Him known. Let every word you speak be drenched with grace and tempered with truth and clarity. For then you will be prepared to give a respectful answer to anyone who asks about your faith.

Colossians 4:4-5 (TPT)

#shareHisgrace

Categories
Christian Living Perspective

Making the Call

As a kid back in the 70’s, one of my favorite Saturday afternoon activities was watching ABC’s Wide World of Sports with my dad.

The show’s opening scene, accompanied by an olympic style fanfare and a collection of sport clips, was unforgettable. For years, I could lip sync to the golden voice of Jim McKay without missing a syllable:

Spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of sport… the thrill of victory… and the agony of defeat… the human drama of athletic competition… This is ABC’s Wide World of Sports!

One of my favorite parts of the program was a feature entitled, “You Make the Call.”

A commentator set the scene and then showed a clip of a too-close-to-call play from an epic game. The viewer was then invited to choose from a list of possible rulings by the referees. Finally, the commentator would return (after a commercial break) to share the actual result.

Even at 9 or 10 years old, I loved to debate the possible rulings with my dad. It usually went something like this:

Me: That’s easy, dad. It’s 1st and 10, Packers.

Dad: Son, this is synchronized swimming.

All joking aside, it dawned on me later how chaotic it would be if the fans in the stands actually DID “Make the Call.”

Frazzled Referee: Ok, who thinks it’s 1st and 10 Packers? Raise your hand!


God is the umpire. He makes the call.

“For I know of nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this; but He who judges me is the Lord. Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God.” 1 Corinthians 4:4-5 (NIV)

But why should God ALONE be the judge?

Because humans stink at it! We don’t know what God knows, and that means there’s always at least ONE thing about someone else’s situation that hasn’t been brought to light.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus spoke about loving our enemies and not judging others. As you probably already know, here’s how He made the call:

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” Luke 6:37 (NIV)

One of my favorite descriptions of the word dogmatism is, “to make the uncertain certain.” For the narrow-minded inquisitor there’s no middle ground; one either agrees with them (100%) or one does not.

But where does such intolerance lead? It leads to judging, condemning and not forgiving.

And that’s why God is the umpire. He makes the call.

“Forget about deciding what’s right for each other. Here’s what you need to be concerned about: that you don’t get in the way of someone else, making life more difficult than it already is. ” Romans 14:13 (MSG)


Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Categories
Christian Living grace

The Power of Weakness

I was a bit puzzled with a recent post on the The Clean, Good Life called How To: Pick Something to Improve On. The author, Matcha, challenged me to list my strengths and weaknesses–in order of magnitude–and then get to work on my biggest weakness.

Wait a second! Most self-improvement experts say to focus on improving your strengths, not weaknesses, I said to myself–only half convinced.

Ok, I’ll give it a shot.

Strengths (high to low): kind, genuine, congenial, empathetic, open and gregarious.

Weaknesses (high to low): approval addict, overly sensitive, insecure, impetuous and conceited.

I understand, reading about me gazing at my own navel is not particularly engaging, but please read on.

Conducting this exercise wasn’t easy–especially the part about admitting my weaknesses. But I think I see what Matcha is getting at.

Considering my shortcomings not only made me aware of my frailties, it invited me to confront them.

The apostle Paul had such an aha moment when he prayed for Jesus to take away his greatest weakness–something he called his “thorn in the flesh.”

As you no doubt recall, this is how Christ responded:

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. – (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Paul responds by saying, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” – (2 Corinthians 12:10) He then comments that, for Christ’s sake, he actually DELIGHTS in weaknesses.

For when I am weak, then I am strong. – (2 Corinthians 12:11)

I’ve read these verses of scripture many times, but after Matcha’s improvement exercise, they took on new meaning.

Because God’s power is made perfect in weakness, His grace is always sufficient!

You and I don’t have to fear our weaknesses or avoid them. On the contrary, we should delight in them–knowing that His strength is perfect.

His strength is perfect when our strength is gone.
He’ll carry us when we can’t carry on.

Steven Curtis Chapman

Maybe you’d like to try Matcha’s exercise? What are YOUR strengths and weaknesses? And how will you get to work on your biggest weakness (besides taking Paul’s advice)?😇

Photo by Daniel Mingook Kim on Unsplash