Galatians 5 and Freedom

Yesterday I finished the rough draft of a paper I’ve been working on.  It is one in a series.  Not sure what will become of them yet.  This one came out to be 12,000+ words.  I’ll share it once I’m done editing.   Here is an excerpt from it. 

Only in the environment of loving others can we cast off the chains of sin.  Discipleship is not an act of isolation.  Rather freedom from sin grows in the soil of mission.  Only once we have joined God on His mission to reunite the world to Himself can we live as priests.  If we want to pursue holiness we must throw ourselves fully into serving others.  We must make sacrificial, die-on-the-cross-for-others love the motivation behind all our actions.  Paul affirmed this in his letter to the Galatians.  Writing to Christians struggling with whether or not they should pacify the ritual and rule following religious folk by being circumcised, Paul said:

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.  Mark my words!  I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all.  Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law.  You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.  But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope.

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love…You, my brothers, were called to be free.  But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.  The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.  For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature.  They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.  But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.  The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Against such things there is no law.  Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.  Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.  (Excerpts from Galatians 5)

It is worth taking a moment to break down Paul’s argument a piece at a time:

  • The Galatians were freed from slavery to idols when they gave themselves to Christ.  To adopt rituals and rules (the manual approach to discipleship) would be to enter back into slavery.
  • Rather than entering back into the rituals and rules to pursue holiness (righteousness), the Galatians should believe that the Spirit is at work.
  • This faith is not expressed through legalistic manual building.  It’s expressed through loving others.
  • This is the purpose of our freedom.  We are not free so that we can party like wild children and not fear the consequences.  We are free from rituals and rules so that we can join in God’s mission and love others.
  • If we are living by the Spirit, loving our neighbors as ourselves, then the Spirit will develop in us things like joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, etc…  If we are instead living a life a self-focused sinfulness then idols will take root in us and our lives will be full of drunkenness, hatred, fits of rage, jealousy, lust, etc…

I’ve spent years sitting in classrooms learning the rituals and rules, listening to sermons explaining how various aspects of the manual work, and journaling about what a horrible sinner I am hoping the force of my inner strength will crush the idols around me – all in the name of discipleship.  The ironic truth is all those things served to focus me more on myself and in the end re-enslave me making the Law my master.  If I had just gotten up from the pew, walked out of the classroom, focused less on myself and taken the hungry homeless man on the corner to lunch I would have given the Spirit much more furtile soil to work in.

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Galatians 5 and Freedom

What about house churches? Activities Centric or Lifestyle Centric?

This is a continuation of a discussion.  Jump back to the start by clicking here.

The title “House Church” encompasses so much stuff that even simply defining the model is hard.  Some describe every church that meets in a house as a “house church”, but this definition isn’t helpful because it brings a massive amount of variety under one umbrella.   I’ve known of house churches, for example, that are worship obsessed.  They sing.  They dance.  They do crazy worship stuff that makes me uncomfortable (like Holy laughter…I’m not down with the Holy Laughter).   I’ve known of other house churches that are super institutionalized.  Even though their are only fifteen adults in the room, they have a paid pastor and deacons.   They take up an offering; and they belong to a large denomination. I’ve known other house churches that are all about freedom. There is no planning for each gathering beyond time and place.  “What ever the Spirit leads us to do we are going to do,” a leader once told me.  The point is, there are so many different types, so many different expressions, that the term “house church” really isn’t helpful…but it is out there so we have to use it.

I’ve seen a lot of people moving into these smaller venues of worship in hopes of recapturing vitality in their faith.  “Maybe if we get away from the crowd” they think “our faith will be better.”  Often there is someone in the back ground holding a piece of scripture describing how __________ church met in a house telling everyone that if they would just go small everything else will fix itself.

Just as a side note – the Thingy (the church who gather on Monday nights that Wendy and I are a part of) is not a house church.  We don’t even meet the simplest criteria because we don’t always meet in houses.  We’ve met in restaurants, parks, coffee houses, and back yards.  Really we will gather wherever we can find space for our kids.   I once got in an argument with a Baptist reporter about this.  She was doing an article for the state Baptist paper on all the different church plants going on in Baltimore so she asked me for the name of our group.  I replied, “Well, we intentionally don’t have a name; but we refer to ourselves the as Thingy because we have to call ourselves something.”  She condescendingly said, “Well, I’ll call you in the article ‘the Hamilton House Church.'”  That she thought she could name us really made me angry.  It was on like Donkey Kong.  In the end she ignored me and did what she wanted to.

Back on topic now…

In my experience, house churches are usually comprised of people trying to escape the institutional church setting.  They’ve been burned by church, or they hate the money involved in the institution, or they are put off by obsession with growing the organization, or one of a thousand other bad tastes have formed in their mouths.  They go to the house church model because they find the intimacy of the small group setting refreshing.  It’s different than where they have been so on the outset it has an exciting momentum about it.

Sadly though, in my limited experience, house church people rarely address the underlying issues that brought about the institutional model of church that frustrated them.  They attack the symptoms not the problems.  For example, they leave the large gathering because they are angry about the consumerism it encourages, but they never take the time to figure out what caused that consumerism in that large group setting, so they end up duplicating it in the house church.  After a time they find themselves in a room with 15 adults who want to be fed rather than sitting in a room with 150 adults who want to be fed.

So while I would like to say that moving your faith into a smaller venue will help you move from an activities centric understanding of church to a lifestyle centric understanding of church, the truth is it won’t.  The activity you define church as will simply have less people and you will get to sit on a couch instead of in a row of chairs.

A friend of mine gave me a great illustration today that I’m going to blantantly steal.

When the foundation of a building is cracked you can repaint the walls all day long, but you won’t fix the building that way.  If you hope to fix the building you are going to have to address the foundational problems.

Moving to a lifestyle centric understanding of church doesn’t happen automatically because there are less people in the room…although it is easier to change the hearts and minds of a small group of devoted friends than a mass of attendees.

What about house churches? Activities Centric or Lifestyle Centric?

The Assembly Line that Makes Me Feel Great

Jackson and Julianna’s school is fighting to develop new ways to educate urban kids.  I have learned so much from them in the past two years about myself, about organizations, about education, about leadership…and about church.

Which is funny because it is not a Christian school.  It is a public school lead by brilliant people who are seeking justice for inner city children.

The leadership at the school consistently struggles to explain their vision of education to parents like me.  One illustration they use that has touched my soul is of an assembly line.  (I’m probably going to mess this up some…bear with me.)  They explain that our contemporary form of education was developed during the industrial revolution, the same time as assembly lines and factories.  The system, because of the context in which it was developed, is focused on producing factory type workers in assembly line style.  We bring the kids in.  We sit them down in rows.  We tell them what they need to know.  Then we test by asking them to regurgitate it back to us.  Critical thinking, creativity, and individualization are spoken of but not valued by the system.

Instead, these wonderful educators say, we need to recognize that kids speak a thousand languages.  Yes learning the information is important; but even more important is developing the skill to process it and create with it.  Yes having a foundational instruction is necessary, but not all kids learn in the same way.  Some are visual learners.  Others are auditory.  Others need to experience it.  Others need to feel it.  The truth is every kid learns in many different ways.  Education then, these leaders have taught me, must to personal.  It must be individualized to the child.  No more assembly lines.  Let’s replace them with communities that learn together, embrace each other, and encourage one another to learn.  Teachers move from being experts to living as students of the children they seek to empower.

What breaks my heart is that I see this same problem in our churches.  We bring the people in.  We ramp them up with music.  We then lecture them about life change.  Even when we break them into smaller groups, there is no room for customization.  There is no room for individualization.  We want every group to look the same.  Do the same stuff.  Learn in the same way.  Connect to one another as we, the experts, have deemed is the most effective way to connect.

And from this assembly line mentality our activities centric definition of church has arisen.   Now making the assembly line more effective is the point.

And here is the real problem for me.  I like the assembly line.  I like standing in front of large groups of people and speaking.  I like looking at systems on a white board and strategically planning how to move people from one environment to another.  I like writing curriculum for masses.  I like looking at statistics and debating numbers.

I like it because it makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something.  The problems of the city are so large.  When I am working on a mass of people it feels like I’m getting something done.

And there is the rub.  The church assembly line isn’t really about individuals.  It is about me.  It helps me feel like I’m making a difference.

Individualization is hard.  Sitting over coffee with one person, helping them work through their issues can be discouraging.  Trying to come up with a new strategy for each person you are discipling is tiring.  Not teaching crowds on cool subjects like “A Righteous Marriage”, not writing a series on the latest T.V. show or fad; but rather trying to figure out the core stuff everybody needs and keeping it simple with intense discipline so others can be creative with their own expression of it is tedious.

But it is wonderful because when I focus on individuals I see Jesus in them and am called to worship God as I have never been called before.

The leaders of my kids’ school are killing themselves to change the paradigm because they love kids and want to see them become the absolute most successful adults they can become.

If we, church leaders, also love our people and want them to become more like Jesus everyday, to experience the abundant life more today than yesterday shouldn’t we also be killing ourselves to change the paradigm?

I would be lying to you if I were to say moving to a  lifestyle centric understanding of church was easy.  Its not.  It hurts.  It is a journey full of self-doubt.  I consistently have to kill my ego – that voice within me that starts thinking movements, or masses, or anything beyond the individuals right under my nose.  Every time I put it to death its painful.  Repentance is demanded.  Confessions have to be made.  Surrender has to come.

Yet while the journey may be difficult, it is beautiful; and I am thankful that I live in such a time as this when I have the privilege of embarking on it.

The Assembly Line that Makes Me Feel Great

New Thoughts on Church – Innovation or Discovery

Innovation is creating something new.  For example, when Konrad Zuse put together the Z1 in his parents living room in 1936 giving the world the first programmable computer he was innovating.

Discovery is finding something that is already there.  In 985 when Eric the Red landed his boat on Greenland, he wasn’t innovating.  He didn’t create Greenland.  Eric hadn’t invented anything.  He had discovered and named something that was already there.

When we talk about “new stuff” in church world (like new missional thinking, or emergent theology, or new organic ways of organizing ourselves, or new styles of worship, or putting drums on stage, or having a stage, etc…) it is important for us…okay, me – young leader with ego…to remember that we aren’t inventing.  We are simply rediscovering and relabeling truths about God’s family.

Take the recent posts I’ve been throwing up on Activities Centric thinking of church vs. Lifestyle Centric thinking of church.  This way of talking is new for me.  It excites me because it is fresh and invigorating.  It helps me make sense of the world around me.  It helps me classify and organize feelings in my gut and thoughts in my brain.  But its not new.  There is no innovation going on here.   For example…

Amos 5:21-24

“I hate, I despise your religious feasts; I cannot stand your assemblies. 22 Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them.  Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps.  But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!  Did you bring me sacrifices and offerings forty years in the desert, O house of Israel?  You have lifted up the shrine of your king, the pedestal of your idols, the star of your god– which you made for yourselves. Therefore I will send you into exile beyond Damascus,” says the LORD, whose name is God Almighty.

Sounds like a “misisonal” lifestyle centric vs. activities centric debate to me.  This whole conversation is not about inventing anything.  It is simply discovery.  And what I’ve been writing about is not even new discovery…more like personal discovery.  I’ve simply stumbled upon some language that helps me make sense of stuff I see around me.  Some of you I’m sure read it and think, “I don’t know what the big deal is.  I’ve thought this way for years.”

Anywho…I share this because I’m going to continue on this activities centric vs. lifestyle centric train of thought for a while (I’ve got a lot more to work out) and I wanted us all to be on the same page.

New Thoughts on Church – Innovation or Discovery

Activities Centric vs. Lifestyle Centric – Playing it out some more

Like I said in my last post, I’ve been working this idea out recently and it has helped me explain a lot of stuff so I thought I would share it.

Over the last three years I’ve had to defend my missional thinking a lot.  What’s been strange is that when I explain it people are usually cool with the theology.  It is the practice they fight with.

Believers love talking about how…

  • …God is on a mission and we need to join Him in it.
  • …we need to be imitating Jesus and living out the incarnation by seeking to be “little Jesuses” in our communities.
  • …we should not seek to reach the lost by trying to attract them to a worship service but rather by loving and serving them where they are.
  • …every believer she see him/herself as a missionary to the community.
  • …leaders should see themselves as servants commissioned by the people to encourage and equip the people for their lives as missionaries.

All of this believers will overwhelmingly agree with.  Many have even rightly argued to me that this is how Baptists (the denomination I grew up in) have thought for a long time, that these statements are actually a return to Baptist theology.

Then when I begin to explain that these ideas caused Wendy and I to question and change the things that we do often believers’ attitudes will change.

When I encourage individuals to find a group of people in their community that they are going to love (a group he/she has been sent to) rather than build large group, top down organized ministries because the organized group ministries tend to turn believers into servants of a centralized vision, gears in a machine, the individuals become frustrated with me.   Even though they agree that the organized ministries don’t value their individuality as sent missionaries on mission with God, they will fight to keep them.

When I explain that the way we’ve been gathering together for worship (singing, announcements, more singing, some kind of offering, sermon, more singing) isn’t the most effective way to encourage and equip people to live as missionaries; that it tends to turn believers into spectators dependent upon the professionals to lead a show they minimally participate in at best; that we need to include dialog and debriefing from their time on the field, the believers get mad at me.  Even those that find no spiritual vitality in their  Sunday morning ritual will fight to keep it exactly like it is.

When I talk with believers about our systems, the whole picture of activities we do together, and explain how we need to keep them simple, minimal, and based on empowering others to be “little Jesus’s” rather than piling on more activities that pull us further into isolation, believers become angry with me.  Even those who agree that we do to much, that the last thing we need is another Bible study, that we need more time with people in the community to build intimacy through which the Gospel can flow…even those believers will fight to hold on to their current system and work to build upon it.

These conversations over the last three years  have left me to ask “why?”  How is it that as followers of Christ we can believe one thing and then practice something completely different?  How is it that brilliant men and women, captains in their professional fields, followers who are passionate about Jesus struggle to line their practice up with their belief?  Our practice does not enforce or build up what we believe, but we struggle to let go of the practice.  Why?

The problem is that our definition of what it means to be the church is activities centric.  We define “church” by the things we do.  Being part of the “church” means participating in this stuff.  We have this lifestyle, this way of being, that we find in Jesus.  Then we have these activities that we have done since before any of us were born.  At some point the activities were based on the lifestyle.  At some point the activities were tools that encouraged the lifestyle; but for most that has ceased to be true.  Now to be a member of our church means to participate in certain activities.

What is funny to me is that the previous paragraph should be offensive.  People should come to me with piles of evidence proving that our current practices do encourage us to be missionaries in our communities; evidence that shows that the way we are doing things is bringing justice and righteousness to our cities, that it is helping us to join God on mission, rather what I’ve experience is that very few people that will defend their activities in that vain.  Instead they argue that while their activities don’t encourage a missionary lifestyle, other good things come from the activities.  People find a feeling of family in the activities.  People have been drawn into a relationship with God through the activities.  Or that the community built through the activities has sustained them through difficult times in their lives.  Therefore they love the activities and find a sense of belonging inside the activities so they want to keep them.

I get that.

I understand.

And I’m not saying that the activities are bad.  I’m not saying that good stuff doesn’t come out of them.  I’m not saying that Jesus doesn’t use them.

What I am saying is that if we can all agree that we should be living a missional lifestyle (what I described above), if we can all agree with the thinking that every believer should be on mission with God, and if we can agree that for the vast majority of us our current activities do not effectively encourage and equip us to live that lifestyle

shouldn’t we then be willing to change and morph our activities until they do?

 

What I’m saying is that the activities we do (the Bible studies, the worship services, the ministries, the meetings, etc…) are supposed to be a means to an end…not the end themselves.  They are supposed to accomplish something.  They are supposed to be tools we use to build disciples.  When they have stopped effectively

accomplishing that end then they need to be reformed or let go of.  When the tool stops doing the job, we either need to put it down are start using it differently.

The end is discipleship.  The end is this lifestyle that Jesus called us to: a lifestyle of love, of healing, of justice, of calling people to return to right relationship with their loving God.

We must return to a lifestyle centric understanding of what it means to be the church and start holding the activities we do together loosely.

A lifestyle centric definition of church.  Not an activities centric one.

Activities Centric vs. Lifestyle Centric – Playing it out some more

The Evolution of My Missional Thinking: Activities Centric vs. Lifestyle Centric (an Introduction)

Ever start having a conversation, think you are talking about one thing, and then realize you are actually talking about something completely different?  That is how the missional church conversation has been for me.  I think that I am struggling with one thing only to discover that what I’m fighting in my head is actually something completely different.

Recently something hit me like a tone of bricks.  I don’t have it all figured out yet.  I’m still working through it, but I’m at a point where I need to share it.

First, for those that might be new to this rant let me back up and give you a brief history…

A little over three years ago now Wendy and I began a journey of definition.  We had a whole mess of ideas and frustrations rolling around in our heads about the church, and we were struggling to put them together.  It was like looking at a bunch of puzzle pieces on the floor not knowing what picture they combined to make.   As we encountered missional thinkers they put words to our emotions and desires.  These thinkers (like Alan Hirsch, Michael Frost, Francis Chan, Hugh Halter, Reggie McNeal, Ed Stetzer, and others…I list those in case later you want to find a book and read for yourself) helped us begin to see how the pieces fit together.

Along the way we joined with a small group of like minded believers and planted a church in north east Baltimore we affectionately call “the Thingy.”   A year ago Wendy and I also returned to the traditional institutional church Wendy grew up in to walk with them as they move from being a caring family to a team of people on mission with God.

So here is the latest puzzle piece I’m working to put in its place…

You’ve heard people say “Church is not a place it is a group of people.”  I’ve recently come to realize that this statement is incomplete.

First, “church is not a place” – this is a great phrase.  Often I’ve fallen into the trap of defining “church” as a building or location.  I hear it when my kids ask me “where are we going today?” and I reply, “We are going to church.”  When I say that phrase I have a big building in my head where I go on Sunday mornings.

This might seem like trivial semantics, but it is not.  Our definition of “church” shapes our definition of discipleship, of evangelism, of God, etc…  If we allow the word “church” to be defined as a place, then being a member of a church means going to a place routinely.  We come to think of God as existing in a specific place.  Evangelism comes to mean bringing people to that place.  All of those are bad.

Our definition of “church” is important because effects other stuff.

Like I was saying earlier, the statement “church is not a place” does not go far enough.  We must add the words, “or an activity.” You see, often when I talk about “church” I think of a series of groups of activities – singing hymns or praise choruses with a group of people on Sunday mornings, Sunday school meetings, listening to sermons, bible studies, small groups in a person’s home, and on and on.

Defining “church” as an activity or event carries with it the same problem as defining “church” as a location.  The gathering becomes the point.  Following Christ centers around attending a meeting.

Recognizing the church is not a building was easy for me.  Understanding the church is also not an activity has been harder.  Just one quick question to stimulate your thinking (and then I will come back to it more later)…

Let’s say you attend The Church of the Awesome Worship Band.  If you miss a week of Sunday morning worship at Church of the AWB are you still a member of your church?  What if you miss a month?  Two months?  What if you miss a year?  What if you go for a month, and then don’t go, and then come back for two weeks, and then miss for another month and a half?  Was your member turning on and off like a light switch?  If you said, “I’m no longer a member after X amount of time” then your living in an activity center definition of church.

Second – while yes, “a church is a group of people” we need to add to that, “on mission with God together.” It is not simply enough to “be a group of people.”

I used to play basketball with the same group of guys every Thursday evening.  We were not a church.

I used to go out to eat breakfast with the same friends in the cafeteria every morning in college.  We were not a church.

This group of people, to be classified as a church, needs to be moving together after God.  They need a common lifestyle they are sharing.

Don’t be confused, I’m not talking about following a set of rules or setting up some legalistic doctrine everyone has to live by.

“To be part of this church you need to wear a clown nose on Tuesdays and hope on one foot on Saturdays from 4 to 7pm.”

By lifestyle, I mean the group of people need to agree that following Christ is about _________.  For example, at the two churches I’m a part of right now have both said that following Jesus is about loving like Jesus.  We are now working to make that lifestyle, “love like Jesus”, the heart of everything we do together and in the community as missionaries.

There  needs to be lifestyle at the center of our self-definition as churches.

I know this feels weird and confusing.  I realize many of you are thinking, “I attend a building on a weekly basis but we have a lifestyle…don’t we?…I mean…we’ve got a slogan.”  Other of you are asking, “Cant’ attendance be a lifestyle?  Shouldn’t my activities define my lifestyle?”  Others are thinking, “What is Jeff smokin’ today?”

Hang with me.  In the coming weeks I’m going to jump on those questions and more that I’m struggling with too.  For example:

  • What are the problems activities centric thinking is causing?  How will they be fixed by lifestyle centric thinking?
  • Can a church be missional and activities centric? (a.k.a. – Both / And?)
  • How does Activities centric vs. Lifestyle centric cross church models?  Can a mega-church and a house church both be activities centric?
  • What is the difference between having a mission statement or slogan and being lifestyle centric?  Is the purpose driven model lifestyle centric?
  • Where did Jesus fall on this?  Do we see this distinction playing out in the Scripture?
  • How do we keep lifestyle centric from becoming legalistic?  What was Paul’s example?

Any who.  I hope I’ve given you something to chew on.  If so, welcome to my crazy.  Pull up a comfy chair and strap in because things about to get really weird in here.

The Evolution of My Missional Thinking: Activities Centric vs. Lifestyle Centric (an Introduction)

Reflections on Luke 15:1-7 (Seek the Lost – 3)

All the tax collectors and sinners were approaching to listen to Him. And the Pharisees and scribes were complaining, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them!”

So He told them this parable: “What man among you, who has 100 sheep and loses one of them, does not leave the 99 in the open field and go after the lost one until he finds it? When he has found it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders, and coming home, he calls his friends and neighbors together, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found my lost sheep!’

I tell you, in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 righteous people who don’t need repentance.

There are two perspectives I must read this story from.

First, I must hear it as a potential Pharisee.  The temptation to believe that I am righteous, to forget that I am a sinner, to point my finger at others who are tempted differently than I is always present.  Temptation is always urging me to look down on another, to think more highly of myself than I ought, to stratify my sins and stamp others with a scarlet S.

If I want to create joy in heaven, if I want Christ chasing after me than I must admit my constant state of need.  I must confess that without Him I am lost.  There is nothing righteous about me.  The gracious presence of the Spirit within is all I have of value, and He is not there because I am special in some way.

Second, I must read this story and ask, “How then shall I live?”  Hanging with the 99 is also always a great temptation.  The 99 are warm and comfortable.  I feel safe in the large numbers.  We are not lost and alone.  We are in community together as a family.

Sadly though we are alone.  Jesus left us to go and look for the lost.  If we want to be with Him we must join His mission to find the lost sheep.  Our calling is not to huddle into groups.  It is to go, seek, find, and restore by calling people through love to right relationship with God (true righteousness) and right relationship with one another (justice).

Lord, thank you for loving me even though I am a mess.  Never let me forget that my relationship with you is a gift of grace.  Father, thank you for sending me.  Teach me Lord to love like you love so that I might celebrate when others are restored to you.

Reflections on Luke 15:1-7 (Seek the Lost – 3)