“Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.” ~ Colossians 4:6
2012 is almost gone and it’s time to update you on my word for the year…GRACE. When I chose that word back in January, I had no clue what to expect when the twelve months were up. What I can tell you is that I have grown. Learning to extend grace to others has been very humbling and often times I found myself sticking up for those that were in the spotlight.
Think about the rise and fall and death of Whitney Houston or Joe Paterno. The Never Beyond and Labels Lie campaigns by People of the Second Chance were wonderful ways for me to learn about and extend grace those that had fallen in the public eye. In the end, the last post in the Never Beyond series was about looking at yourself and seeing that each of us is never beyond redemption no matter what we’ve done in our lives.
I wonder about how extending grace to those living on the fringe might have changed things with the Aurora or Newtown shooters. How about when we extend it to those on the streets? My eyes were opened to beautiful songs about God’s extension of grace to us. I even had the honor of speaking about grace in my first guest post this year.
So, I offer you the word GRACE as I end 2012 and move on to a new year and a new word. And I leave you with the words I began the year with and ask you to extend a little grace this year because each of us is never beyond redemption.
God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. Ephesians 2:8-9
I had to make a field visit to see a client at Pinellas Hope. She had been living in her car before someone gave her gas money to drive to Ocala to stay in a home of a friend. After months of keeping in touch with me, she admitted that she was in an abusive situation and needed to return back to Pinellas County NOW. Thankfully, a friend gave her to gas money to get back home and within days of returning, she found admittance to Pinellas Hope.
Pinellas Hope came into being after the local homeless started a tent city on the property of the Catholic Charities soup kitchen/transitional housing property. Police, Pinellas County, the City of St Petersburg, and other social agencies came together to provide food, medical care, and other social services. You might remember that tent city ended badly.
Catholic Charities took some of their property associated with a large cemetery and they started Pinellas Hope, where the homeless could have somewhere to stay and associated social services. What was supposed to last only 1 year has now been ongoing for 5 years.
I was greeted by the site of the first picture, except that it has been pretty rainy here and the ground had been muddy and was now dried. What got my attention more than what I saw of the physical location was the smell and the broken people. It took about half a day to get the smell out of my nose. The smell of washed but sweaty people and of moldy, wet stuff.
Pinellas Hope is a tent city. There are tents set up over about 5 acres of the 10 acre property. There are transitional apartments that are available for those that have income. There’s a huge dining patio covered in tables and chair with industrial fans to move the humid air. The residents are fed by donations and groups who bring in meals. People move like ants over the property.
I had to sit for about 15 minutes before I met my client. I watched as people walked with their heads downcast, staring at the ground, not talking to anyone. They scurried to their next location; some with purpose, some without. The way they held their bodies, the heads, the looks on their faces broke my heart.
God uses broken, imperfect people because I think he likes to show how people can be redeemed. Think Saul (Paul), who persecuted the new Christ followers to death including the martyrdom of Stephen. He has a MAJOR conversion experience (Acts 9) on his way to Damascus. He then becomes one of the greatest New Testament writers and missionaries.
God took an evil, broken man and used him to propagate The Word throughout the rest of the world. He was the spiritual father to many people in the New Testament. If God can give him a second chance after he had early Christians murdered, then why can’t we give others second chances? We’ve all be the recipient of a second (or third or fourth) chance. I suggest we soften our hearts and be more forgiving to those that have hurt us or committed some trespass. Visit People of the Second Chance for ways to start. Or, even better, read the passage in Acts 9. Because, if God can forgive someone who persecuted His children, then we should be able to forgive too. Perhaps it’s us that can be use to do greater things after we’ve failed.
At Columbine, I have seen this before. But not up close. As a church pastor in Denver, I have worked as a chaplain alongside several police and fire departments. I was privileged to counsel parents just hours after the Littleton Columbine shootings. However, in this new tragedy at the Aurora Theater Dark Night shooting, one of the victims was a 22-year-old woman from my church, Petra Anderson (pronounced Pay-tra). Petra went to the movies with two young friends who are biking across America. You and I have been inundated with news about what happened next. A joyful movie turned into bloody, unbelievable chaos. Petra was hit four times with a shot-gun blast, three shots into her arm and one bullet which entered her brain. This a bit of Petra’s miracle story.
With awesome people from our caring and pastoral team, I spent all day Friday in the…
If any should complain that humanity, under the fall, is too weak and helpless to obey these high commands of God, the reply is in order that, through the atonement of Christ, man is enabled to obey. The Atonement is God’s Enabling Act. That which God works in us, in regeneration and through the agency of the Holy Spirit, bestows enabling grace sufficient for all that is required of us, under the Atonement. This grace is furnished without measure, in answer to prayer. So that, while God commands, He, at the same time, stands pledged to give us all necessary strength of will and grace of soul to meet His demands. This being true, man is without excuse for his disobedience and eminently censurable for refusing, or failing, to secure requisite grace, whereby he may serve the Lord with reverence, and with godly fear.
There is one important consideration those who declare it to be impossible to keep God’s commandments strangely overlook, and that is the vital truth, which declares that through prayer and faith, man’s nature is changed, and made partaker of the Divine nature; that there is taken out of him all reluctance to obey God, and that his natural inability to keep God’s commandments, growing out of his fallen and helpless state, is gloriously removed. ~E. M. Bounds, “The Necessity of Prayer“
Please click on the “Only A Breath” picture above to read about all of the June Featured Sponsors on Melanie’s blog. I met Melanie when she offered to make “One Word 2012” icons for the readers. She gracious offered to do it for free. She designed the “Grace” button on my sidebar.
Please visit Melanie and consider reading her blog regularly. She has a beautiful and generous heart. She is living her word this year “Give” by her highlighting her readers’ blogs on her own. She even made me my own blog icon. Kewl!
I wanted to share the blessing I received with you, my friends. Thank you for reading my words. I’m humbled.