Book Review: Strangers At My Door – Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove

Strangers At My Door by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove

Strangers At My Door by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove

Every once-in-a-while a volume comes along that allows you to peer into the lives of others. A volume that acts as both a window and a looking glass. Allowing you to see into lives and situations while forcing you to look at yourself. A volume that forces you to gasp at the overwhelming experiences of the author and their story while knowing that grace is–simply–greater than.

Strangers At My Door by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove (@wilsonhartgrove) is one of those volumes.

Jonathan tells the stories of people for whom he has opened the door. In the process of telling these stories, he opens the rooftop of his home and allows us to peer into the situation. He forces us to see that to which we often keep our eyes closed.

When someone knocks on Jonathan’s door, they are not the people you would normally find knocking on your door. These are people who often have no other door on which they can knock. They are drunk or high or fresh out of prison. They are hungry or homeless. They are in need.

And, Jonathan opens the door. Welcoming them as if they were Jesus himself knocking. Bringing to each one the Kingdom of Heaven.

And, in Strangers At My Door, he allows us to welcome them as well.

There’s a beautiful and tragic story that led Jonathan and his wife, Leah, to start Rutba House–a hospitality house in the Walltown neighborhood of Durham, North Carolina. It is, as Jonathan describes, the Good Samaritan story. The enemy being the bearer of life and healing. The one who should hate being the very one who shows love.

Over the past several years, Rutba House has welcomed the stranger. They’ve welcomed those who needed to be welcomed. Those who needed to know that Jesus loved them. Those who needed.

Yet, in welcoming those who needed the most, Jonathan has found that he has been healed. That life has been given to him. He has come to learn that grace is greater than.

On page 163, Jonathan concludes a tragic story with this sentence:

But I do know that, here in the midst of the mess that we’ve made of this world, grace happens.

Grace happens.

Strangers At My Door is a collection of stories about grace happening. It is a collection of stories about the Kingdom coming in the lives of individuals. It is the story of how the Kingdom has come—through some very unlikely carriers—to Jonathan and Leah and their friends at Rutba House.

Grace happens.

As I peered into the window of Rutba House and watched these stories unfold, I found myself staring into a mirror. At some point in the midst of each story, I found myself asking “Would I welcome this person?”

Would I be Jesus to that one?

Would I open the door?

Would I allow grace to happen?

As Jonathan relates to us the stories of the knocks at his door, he reminds us that “being saved” is a process. He reminds us that the Kingdom doesn’t come all at once. Rather it comes in fits-and-starts. It comes bit-by-bit. Piece-by-piece. Story-by-story.

He reminds us that God usually chooses to drop in and walk through our problems with us. He doesn’t usually yank us out of them. He reminds us that if we look closely enough in the messiest of messes, we can see the Kingdom.

Grace does not come near to fix our problems, but to open our eyes to the possibility of beauty in the midst of problems.

— Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove in Strangers At My Door.

 


 

  • FTC (16 CFR, Part 255) Disclaimer: I received my copy of Jonathan Wilson-Hartgroves’s book Strangers At My Door from Blogging for Books for this review.
731951: Strangers at My Door: A True Story of Finding Jesus in Unexpected Guests Strangers at My Door: A True Story of Finding Jesus in Unexpected GuestsBy Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove / Convergent Books

Jesus said, “I was a stranger, and you welcomed me.” But what would your life be like if you really took him at his word? Using the power of story, Wilson-Hartgrove paints a vivid picture of the amazing things that happened when he welcomed drug dealers, criminals, and other colorful characters to share his table. Softcover.

#Lent14 — Grace

As we have done in previous Lent and Advent seasons, we are again blogging our way through the Lenten Lectionary Texts.  In this season, our prayer is that we will bless and inspire you in your walk between the Now and Not-Yet of the Kingdom.  We pray that our meditations will be life-giving to you in your journey.

A reading from the Epistle to the Romans.

By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus.  And that’s not all: we throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us.  We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.

There’s more to come: we continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next.  In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged.  Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!

Romans 5:1-5 (MSG)

This is the Word of The Lord.

For most of my life, I understood grace only on a superficial level.  I understood the meaning of grace as favor unmerited—one of those “just because” kind of things.  Yet, in that understanding of grace, I lacked a revelation of the reality of grace.  I didn’t know grace that left you standing “in the wide open spaces…shouting our praise.”

Yet, there came a moment where I came to understand the deep beauty of grace.  I came to understand it as more than just unmerited favor and came to understand it as the very outpouring of God’s heart.  Grace became to me the most beautiful expression of God’s love.  It was a moment where I could look back over my life and see the hand of God moving pieces in the background, setting things up for me to come to know Him more deeply, and wooing me to Himself.

Grace, I came to realize, was expressed in the longing that God had for me to be His friend.  His companion.  His son.  His co-creator.

For years, I had tried to force grace into the box of “anti-legalism.”  I had tried to make it the anti-thesis of working for God.  I had tried to make it the anti-fundamentalist.  Tried to make it something that allowed me to do what I wanted to do.  I had tried to make it my “Get-Out-Of-Jail Free” card.  Only to find that grace doesn’t work that way.

Grace isn’t the anti.  Grace is that which is better than.  It’s that which woos us into deeper relationship with God.  It’s that which rescues us from drowning in our own filth.  It’s that which draws us ever closer to the Creator.

Grace is better than.

For me, that realization came after spending time in the book of Galatians.

Reading.

Re-reading.

Meditating.

Studying.

Coming to understand God as more than just a task-master.  Coming to understand salvation as more than a ticket out of hell.  Coming to understand that God didn’t require me to DO, but rather He just wanted me to BE.

Grace is that which places us in deep relationship with God in spite of whatever we have done—whether good or bad.  Grace is that which sets us free.  It sets us free from struggling to live right.  It makes us free to live righteous—in right legal and relational standing with God.  It moves us from being workers FOR God and into being workers WITH God.

I came to understand grace as freedom.  Not as a freedom to do whatever I wanted, but rather as a freedom to live unburdened by a system of strict rules for the sake of rules.  I came to know grace as that which unloosed the harness of legalism.

Christ has set us free to live a free life.  So take your stand!  Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you. — Galatians 5:1 (MSG)

I also came to understand that grace given isn’t meant to be hoarded.  Rather grace is given to us, so that we might give it to others.  Grace persuades us to move beyond ourselves.  It urges us to live out the whole gospel—“blessed to be a blessing” (Genesis 12:2 and Galatians 3:8-9).

Grace is that which spurs us on to labor with God.  It is that which positions us as Co-Creators and Kingdom Ambassadors.  It is that which enables us to “carry each other’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2) and in that carrying we fulfill the law.

A few years ago as Stephanie and I made our journey back into the arms of God, I came to understand that grace is greater than.  In the words of Paul to the churches of Galatia and  Ephesus, I came to know that imbedded deep within the character and nature of God is grace.  I came to learn that God longs for nothing more than a relationship, and that He will extend grace “Just Because”.

I came to know that grace wasn’t something that I worked to get, or worked because I had.  Rather, I was extended grace simply because God wanted to be in relationship with me.  And, I learned that because I had been extended grace, I could extend grace to others.  In that, I came to know that my extension of grace to others was far better than my desire to work FOR God, because extended grace allowed me to work WITH God.

But, most importantly, I came to the revelation—the deepest means of knowing—that grace is simply greater than.

Grace is greater than.

Sunset in Kuşadası, Turkey

Sunset in Kuşadası, Turkey

Standing with a Cosmic God

Today, we're diverting from our Lenten lectionary series. I wanted to share with you some thoughts on a reading we were required to meditate on as a team here in Central Asia. Our reading is from Paul's epistle to the church at Ephesus.

This is my life work: helping people understand and respond to this Message. It came as a sheer gift to me, a real surprise, God handling all the details. When it came to presenting the Message to people who had no background in God's way, I was the least qualified of any of the available Christians. God saw to it that I was equipped, but you can be sure that it had nothing to do with my natural abilities.

And so here I am, preaching and writing about things that are way over my head, the inexhaustible riches and generosity of Christ. My task is to bring out in the open and make plain what God, who created all this in the first place, has been doing in secret and behind the scenes all along. Through followers of Jesus like yourselves gathered in churches, this extraordinary plan of God is becoming known and talked about even among the angels!

— Ephesians 3:7-10 (MSG)

Paul finds himself in an interesting place. He's in prison. He doesn't know what's coming down the road. Yet, here he is writing to a church that is being shepherded by John–the Disciple whom Jesus loved. Like John does in his gospel, Paul begins his letter in a cosmic way. He presents the church with a cosmic God–a giant, big, consuming God.

“My task,” says Paul, “is to bring out in the open and make plain what God, who created all this in the first place, has been doing in secret and behind the scenes all along.”

No small feat. Especially for this one who only the paragraph before called himself the “least qualified of all available Christians.” Yet, Paul has come to an understanding of something very important. He has reached an understanding of the beauty of Sonship. God, the great Father, called this lost unlikely ragamuffin Saul. Changed his name to Paul. Taught him to be a son. Then, released him to be a father to churches all over Asia Minor. It is out of this place of Sonship that Paul moves into the ability to present such a cosmic view of God–His Father.

And here, in this passage, Paul makes an epic claim. A claim so big that we often read right past it. He says this:

Through followers of Jesus like yourselves gathered in churches, this extraordinary plan of God is becoming known and talked about even among the angels!

What?!? God's great epic of redemption is being made known through us messed up–but redeemed–ragamuffins to even the angels? These same angels who sit around the throne of God and worship 24/7?

In between their angelic glimpses of the glory of God, they're chattering away about this epic plan that God worked out from the dawn of time. Not because they've watched it transpire over the course of the millennia, but rather because these–unlikely–followers of the Messiah are making the glory of God known in the nations.

As Paul continues through this epistle, he moves from this cosmic view of God into lessons on how we should live in light of this cosmic knowledge. How do we treat one another, live with our spouses, raise our children, and walk out life as a Messiah follower. Finally, he warns us–and then prepares us–about the spiritual battle in which this cosmic epic is embroiled. “Stand,” he says, “and when you can't stand anymore keep standing.”

But, the message is clear, don't stand alone. Stand with the cosmic forces of God. Stand with the fellow ragamuffins who follow–clumsily–this strong God who invited us into the epic.

The kids in Ancient Ephesus

The kids in Ancient Ephesus

 

Lent 2013: Guest Post – Bevin Ginder

As we have done throughout previous Lenten and Advent seasons, we are again blogging through the Lectionary readings in this Lenten season. This year, however, due to our travels in Central Asia, we have asked a number of guests to blog for us. These guests are individuals who are influential in our lives and work. We're honored to share this space with them-and with you–in this season of reflection.

Today, we are incredibly excited to introduce you to a great friend who is laboring with us here in Central Asia. We had the privilege of meeting Bevin Ginder and his family last year while in Colorado Springs. Bevin was born and raised in Southern Africa. He is grateful to be a follower of Jesus, a husband and a father. Presently, he serves on the leadership team of a large YWAM community in Colorado Springs while he teaches and coaches internationally. In his free time Bevin enjoys dabbling in ethno-doxology, gardening and podcasting.

Bevin Ginder

A reading from the Prophet Isaiah

“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David.”

— Isaiah 55:1-3 (NIV)

As we read Isaiah 55:1-3 it's like we are listening to Father God shout across the playground: “Olly olly oxen free!!!” This phrase is thought to derive from “All ye, all ye 'outs' in free” in other words: all who are “out” may come in without penalty. God is calling out to all His children: “the price has already been paid. No more need for fear, guilt or shame. Everyone, come on home. Everyone, come on in. Eat and drink until your soul is fat and happy!!!”

There is something about unmerited favor that just does not compute in mankind’s brain. Grace is one of the most difficult ideas to get our hearts to deeply embrace and relax into. I guess that is understandable since we have a lifetime of performing, measuring up and earning everything we get under our belts. We have a lifetime of saturating in a transactional world that is driven by a conditional and contractual operating system. In just about every season of life and in endeavor we take on there are typically conditional, contractual, and transactional dynamics at play. Whether at school or work or church, we hear the message: “measure up or there will be consequences.” Not just any consequences but consequences that will negatively impact your very identity and value as a person. So, we understand the language of “GIGO” or “Garbage In Garbage Out”. We understand report cards and performance reviews that impact our careers. We understand “walk the walk and talk the talk” or get shunned. We understand winning gold or being forgotten. But, for many of us, we find grace to be a completely foreign language.

After a lifetime of living in the performance operating system, we have no frame of reference for understanding grace. It just sounds too good to be true. Besides, we understand how the conditional, contractual system works. If I want to improve life there is something I can do–I can try harder! On many levels, we just don’t believe that grace will accomplish as much as good ol’ fashion work and performance. Most of the time it seems like we would much rather have a rule to follow than to have to keep going back to God for direction in each season of our lives. Blaise Pascal once said “God created man in his own image…and man returned the favor.” We tend to project mankind’s conditional, contractual, petty and demanding ways onto the heart of God. This reality deeply impacts our capacity to understand and trust that God “really is that good’ and that He really is for us and not against us.

I believe that the best remedy for our tendency to distrust the heart of God is to look at Jesus. I love the account of Philip saying to Jesus “show us the Father” and how Jesus answered ”anyone who has seen me has seen the Father”. On one hand, Jesus raised the standard so high that if understood correctly it should completely unravel any illusions about being able to measure up by ‘trying harder’. On the other hand, Jesus demonstrated the spirit of God’s “Olly olly oxen free!!!” call in his interactions with people like the women caught in adultery and Zacchaeus. The Father’s “Olly olly oxen free!!!” invitation echoes clearly through passages such as the parable of the prodigal son and the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector. Jesus took one of the most well-developed, legalistic performance-based-systems man had ever developed head on, and they killed him for it.

So, the question is: what will enable us to take a trust fall back into His grace? What will motivate us to taste and see that the Lord is good? What will it take for ideas that we understand in our heads to become revelation in our hearts that will enable us to come out of hiding and run to homebase? I’m sure we should not pray this lightly but perhaps we can ask our Father for the grace of a holy discontentment? Perhaps there is a “holy heart sickness” that could arise from the deferred hope of trying harder and falling short? Perhaps a holy heart sickness could lead us to a healthy disillusionment and back to our heart’s true home.

Father we invite you to stir up in us that deep yearning that enables us to hear your “Olly olly oxen free” invitation and coming running home to the “grace feast”.

 

Quiet(ly Working) Weekend

We had a reasonably quiet weekend.  Steph and Emily are both sick, so we basically locked ourselves in our room and “vegged”.  I was able to get caught up on a bunch of reading, which was nice.  Here are some things I read and learned:

Finished Lucky: How the Kingdom Comes to Unlikely People by Glenn Packiam.  You should read this book.  Not just because Glenn pastors the church we attend here in Colorado Springs, but rather because it presents a beautiful (and easily understandable) look at the Beatitudes and the Kingdom of God.  It is well-written and packed with truth.

I read about a third of The Sermon on the Mount by John Wesley.  This volume is a collection of Wesley’s sermons and commentaries on Matthew 5, 6 and 7 (aka The Sermon on the Mount).  As with most of Wesley’s sermons, these aren’t for the faint of heart.  Sermons in Wesley’s era were much deeper than a lot of the sermons we hear today.  Yet, these are loaded with deep truth of God’s Word and His Kingdom.  Well worth the read (keep a dictionary handy).

I read the Psalms.  I can’t even begin to tell you the beauty that I find in these chapters.  Wow.  I am convinced that it is impossible to walk away from a reading of the Psalms and say, “That was a waste of time.”

I read Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians.  This quartet of books by the Apostle Paul make up my second favorite book in the Bible (Job is first).  While the overall thematic ideas are the same between the four, Paul tweaks each one just enough to give you the nuggets of truth in different ways.  At the heart, though, is a recognition that grace supersedes all else.  And through that grace we are made to be the Righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.  In Ephesians, we get this incredible cosmic view of God followed by a “this is then how we should live” section.  Finally, Paul says, “You can’t do that on your own, so let me tell you how to walk in the Spirit.”  Even though God is BIG, He is still relational and wants to walk through your day with you.  Beautiful.

I read First, Second and Third John in five translations.  I love John’s epistles.  John gives us a view of the love of God unlike any other view in the Scripture.  Written toward the end of John’s life, he has come to understand what Jesus was trying to teach back in the Sermon on the Mount.  Love must be central.  All else is noise unless there is love (1 Corinthians 13).  John came to a deep understanding of this revelation and then said, “Here, church, live this.”   Throughout his letters to the four churches (Ephesus, Galatia, Philippi, and Colosse), Paul prays that they may have a deeper revelation of that love.  To Ephesus he writes, “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.  And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and huh and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:16-19).  The Love of God.

Finally, I caught up on the news from around the world (by specifically reading media out of about 7 geographical regions, 4 other areas with socio-political situations currently percolating, 2 other areas that God is talking to us about).  The world is a hurting and broken place.  It’s chaotic.  It’s confusion.  It’s darkness.  Yet, we know the Light!  We know the Bringer of Orderly Order!  And we look for Kingdom to come in those situations.  We pray.  We hope.  We give.  We work.

So, how do I sum up what I learned this weekend?

  • God is a big God with big plans, dreams, goals, and visions.
  • God is not just “some god” who chooses to take an inactive role in the universe.  Rather, He is constantly working (ofttimes quietly) to set up His Kingdom.  Yet, He needs His people (you know, “those called by His name…” (2 Chronicles 7:14)) to be active through prayer, giving, and service in order to bring that Kingdom to pass.
  • Jesus came to show the world that the law wasn’t just a set of rules to follow.  Rather, at the heart was a Heart.  A big Heart.  A Father’s Heart.  The law was written because people didn’t love, honor, and serve one another.  So, Jesus sits on a mountainside and tells a multitude that there’s more than just not murdering, or not seeking vengeance, or worrying about tomorrow.  That more, as Paul and John teach us, is that there is a Father.  That Father loves us beyond our comprehension.  And, as a response to that love, we should love others beyond comprehension.
  • No matter how dark a particular situation may be (I’m thinking of North Korea and some things I learned about it earlier in the week), God is at work in the background.  He’s preparing.  Piece by piece.  Poco y poco.  Bringing it all together.  The darkest hour is just before dawn.
  • Finally, keep praying.  Prayer unlocks things.  Prayer changes things.  Prayer positions things.  As Karl Barth said, “To clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world.”  (Acts 2 prayer class, that should sound a lot like John 1.)

A Walk, A Lesson, A Meal, A Messiah – Lesson 5

(This series was originally posted in October 2011 on my personal blogsite.  We thought we would share it with you all this resurrection week.)

This week we are taking a walk with two disciples and Jesus.  During this walk, we will explore seven lessons from the story of the Road to Emmaus.  Our text for the week is from The Message translation of Luke 24:13-32.

That same day two of them were walking to the village Emmaus, about seven miles out of Jerusalem. They were deep in conversation, going over all these things that had happened. In the middle of their talk and questions, Jesus came up and walked along with them. But they were not able to recognize who he was.

He asked, “What’s this you’re discussing so intently as you walk along?”

They just stood there, long-faced, like they had lost their best friend. Then one of them, his name was Cleopas, said, “Are you the only one in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard what’s happened during the last few days?”

He said, “What has happened?”

They said, “The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene. He was a man of God, a prophet, dynamic in work and word, blessed by both God and all the people. Then our high priests and leaders betrayed him, got him sentenced to death, and crucified him. And we had our hopes up that he was the One, the One about to deliver Israel. And it is now the third day since it happened. But now some of our women have completely confused us. Early this morning they were at the tomb and couldn’t find his body. They came back with the story that they had seen a vision of angels who said he was alive. Some of our friends went off to the tomb to check and found it empty just as the women said, but they didn’t see Jesus.”

Then he said to them, “So thick-headed! So slow-hearted! Why can’t you simply believe all that the prophets said? Don’t you see that these things had to happen, that the Messiah had to suffer and only then enter into his glory?” Then he started at the beginning, with the Books of Moses, and went on through all the Prophets, pointing out everything in the Scriptures that referred to him.

They came to the edge of the village where they were headed. He acted as if he were going on but they pressed him: “Stay and have supper with us. It’s nearly evening; the day is done.” So he went in with them. And here is what happened: He sat down at the table with them. Taking the bread, he blessed and broke and gave it to them. At that moment, open-eyed, wide-eyed, they recognized him. And then he disappeared.

Back and forth they talked. “Didn’t we feel on fire as he conversed with us on the road, as he opened up the Scriptures for us?”

— Luke 24:13-32 (The Message)

————————-

Jesus listens to their story, and then responds.  But notice that in His response He ignores the comments about the women’s story.  Instead, He goes straight to a lesson from 2,000 years of Jewish prophecy about Messiah.

Lesson 5: Sometimes we need Jesus to remind us of the past for us to understand the plan

Jesus takes the next several miles in their physical journey and gives them a theology lesson.  He gives them a lesson in prophecy.

Remember these men still thought that Jesus was going to be the One who would rise up an army and storm the ramparts of the Roman occupation.  This had to be something with which many of the disciples likely were struggling.  Jesus was the conquering hero, He can’t be dead.  Yet, they had watched Him die.

He takes them back to Moses and walks them forward through a couple thousand years of Messianic prophecy.

Basically, He’s telling them, “Look.  It’s all right here.  This was all by design.”

It was all by design.

God has a plan – for Messiah, for sin, for us.

Jesus reminds the two men of the past.  Here’s what the prophets told us the plan was.  All these things were part of the plan.  They were part of God’s plan for Messiah.  They were part of God’s plan for salvation.  They were part of God’s plan for taking us from less than nothing and making us into joint-heirs with Jesus the Christ.

God has a plan for us.

In Jeremiah 29:11, YHWH tells the people of Israel that He knows the plans.  He tells them that they are plans of goodness and prosperity.  This prophecy is in the midst of Babylonian exile.

He has a plan that we sometimes can’t see because of the circumstances surrounding us.  He has a plan.

Psalm 37 gives us several steps of the plan: “Do not fret”, “Trust in YHWH”, “Delight in YHWH”, “Commit your way to YHWH”, and “Wait for YHWH.”

Psalm 139 tells us that YHWH knew us before we were formed in the womb and He had a plan for us even then.

Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us to trust in YHWH with all our being.  Lean not on our understanding.  Follow Him, and He will show us the path.

Jesus tells Peter, James, and John: “Follow me, and I’ll make you Fishers of Men”.

There is a plan for your life.

You have to surrender to it.  You have to forsake your own highway, and step over onto the Road to Jerusalem.  You know, that road that looks like it might be a dead-end.

Sometimes we have to be reminded of our past to see our future.  Jesus takes some time and reminds them of the past.

Before we came to recognize grace moving on us showing us Jesus’ work on the cross, we were in bad shape.  Without grace we are pretty repugnant.  While God loves us, He can’t have relationship with us in that state.  We needed Jesus to die in order for the veil of the Temple to be torn.  We needed Jesus to die in order for the Holy of Holies to be open ground.  In short, we needed Messiah.

To assume that we’re “ok” on our own is to negate grace.  To negate grace is to cheapen the  gift of the cross.

Like these disciples from Emmaus, from time-to-time, we need to be reminded of our sorry state without grace in order to be spurred on to take the message of grace to the world.

Unless our situation is dire and hopeless, then grace is just a buzzword.  Grace doesn’t say, “You’re ok as you are”.  Instead, grace says, “You’re a new creation.”  It says that the old things are passed away and all things are new.

Recognize grace and its impact, and you will see the Messiah plan.  See the Messiah plan, and you see Jesus.  See Jesus, and you will serve.