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Thoughts From Barnabas Piper

Dear Friends,

Today's "thought" is one man's reflection on the topic of grace. And not just grace, but things we should do to make ourselves more aware of all the ways we have been the recipients of it. It comes to you from Barnabas Piper (who lives in the Nashville area with his wife and two daughters, and works as the brand manager for Ministry Grid. You can follow Barnabas on Twitter @BarnabasPiper ).



His words are simply a reminder that we should never let grace stop amazing us. Never let grace become too commonplace. Never allow ourselves to stop being awed by it or grateful for it. In fact, he offers ways we can train ourselves to recognize it, so as to make use we never stop being overwhelmed by the fact that we receive it. Enjoy.

Over-the-Top Grace 
God is over the top. Really. He goes too far, in every direction, including dimensions we can’t even fathom. His grace is just too much. By definition we don’t deserve it and by nature we can’t get our heads around it. We can define it. We can describe it in part. We can see it here and there. But think on this for a moment:

Nothing we have - was not given to us.
Nothing we are - we were not made into.
Nothing in our sphere - is actually in our control.


We came from a family in a place with a race, none of which we chose. We meet people daily we did not choose to meet. We have jobs we “earned,” but how many “connections” and fortuitous happenings got us there? These are the signposts of common grace, the kindness God pours out on the world day in and day out and without which no one could survive. Do we see it?


Often when we think of grace we think of God’s specific grace, the kindness of saving us by sending his Son to live a perfect life and die a sinless death in the place of sinners like you and I. Indeed, that is grace, and even that, for all of the tomes and volumes written about it, is scarcely understood.

The reality of God’s grace is the same as the reality of God: if we could truly understand it then it would not be worthy of our wonder and thanks. It is so much more than that. It shows itself in shocking places and when we think we’ve reached its limits, we crest a hill and see it stretching beyond the horizon.

So, take notice of it. Look high and low and listen closely. It will appear where you never saw it previously. Record it. Write it down in a journal or an iPhone or make a voice memo or something, anything. Just make a note you can revisit at those times grace seems to have disappeared. Reflect on it. It is hard to be thankful for those things we barely notice. When you record something, come back to it, mull it over, see its aspects and angles and connections. There are no simple graces; let your mind be blown and your heart grown. Then share it. Tell a friend, tell your small group, write a blog, tweet a tweet, not every time, but when you are overwhelmed or struck.


In taking these steps the expanse of God’s grace will become more real to us and to those we share it with. What is more, God’s grace will show itself through us and impact others. More than anything, as we see the prevalence and necessity of grace in every part of life, we will find ourselves overwhelmed by gratefulness for it."

One of the signs that we are not where we should be spiritually is that we are underwhelmed by grace, or we begin to think we deserve the things we have and get, or we start believing there is some degree of personal worthiness in us that acts as the lightning rod which calls God's grace down upon us. When such persuasions gain a foothold within our thought patterns, they show we have forgotten who we are, and especially what grace is - the undeserved favor of God.

May we always remember that though we have worth before God, no one (save Jesus, per Rev. 5:1-10) is worthy. Jesus is clear: "So you also, after you have done everything you were told to do, should say to yourself, 'We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty'" (Luke 17:10). In the economy of grace, we come to understand that all that comes our way is a gift.

In the Bonds of God's Amazing Grace, Pastor Jeff

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