504 Java Profile

504 Java Profile
Two of my favorite things

Friday, March 11, 2011

On Trust and Creating Environments

"We cannot by human effort cause the Holy Spirit to work. Not in revival, not in discipleship. We create the environment like the hard-working farmer. Then we wait for God's favor." Allen Jackson, NOBTS Chapel, March 10, 2011

At some point in the near future, the message I preached, "Generational Discipleship" will be available at http://nobts.edu/Chapel/Archives/Spring2011.html

Sunday, March 6, 2011

On Jury Duty and Grace

I have jury duty in New Orleans this month. We serve for an entire month, two days per week. I had a theory that was blown to bits. I assumed preachers would never be called to serve on juries because defense lawyers figure we are too judgmental and prosecutors figure we are too merciful. Plus they don’t want long-winded people like me locked up with 11 other folks. But I was wrong. Within 20 minutes, I was called to the selection process and within three more hours, I was juror number 9. Our case lasted two days.

Now, I like the law. Okay, I get aggravated when I am inconvenienced by such trivial things as speed limits and yellow-then-red lights, but contrary to my human nature, the law does apply to me. When I get tickets (I have family photo album from traffic cameras), I don’t like it, but I get it. Especially the cameras are fair–nobody likes them but they don’t play favorites.

I like books and movies that end up with a sense of justice. Bad guys get what’s coming to them. Good guys get the girl. Companies that play by the rules are the ones who succeed, athletes who cheat are caught and sanctioned...I can almost hear Louis Armstrong singing, “What a Wonderful World”

Maybe that is why it is especially important for me to understand how radical and scandalous grace really is. People who have done awful things have a chance at redemption. Maybe that is why I still react in wonder at the mystery of the mercy of God.

The underlying assumption to the "you have heard it said" statements of Matthew 5 is that when we do the opposite of human nature, the opposite of our “rights” and the opposite of the world’s expectation, we show we are citizens of the counterculture, of a completely different worldview.

It is fair to say that a worldview bent towards grace is not necessarily connected with Christianity, but I disagree. I am too close to too many people--including me--who either have been or need to be transformed in a way that only Jesus can do. I confess that without Jesus, I would just be mean.

So Jesus embraces the law and says that grace goes beyond it. I am not required by the law to manage my thought life, but Jesus says it is a part of discipleship. I am not required by law to look at my inward motives when I am angry, but Jesus says it comes with the territory. I am not required by law to put my wife in a place of exclusive devotion with regard to my purity, but Jesus says that inner thoughts damage her as a Daughter of His.

Grace is truly a radical concept. Micah, a prophet/writer in the Old Testament summarized it well. When he pondered the requirements to please God, he didn't quote the Law of Moses. He said that God requires that we "do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with our God."

Well said as I look to another week of jury duty. And life.