I am crucified with Christ

Life Changes

“Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” ~Romans 7:25a, NIV

Life changes.

Somehow that phrase always seems to have a negative bent. You know, you’re reading along and suddenly something happens to a character, and life changes. We know it can’t be good. Life was good before. And then it changed, and we’ve got trouble.

But what if it wasn’t. Trouble, that is. What if it were different, positive – life CHANGING! Take a man, for example whose zeal was red-hot while his heart was stone cold. What a contradiction; passion pouring out of a lifeless soul. How does that happen? The need to be right? A desire for significance? Maybe a misguided intent; an arrow, sharp and deadly, fired into the blackness of night. It slices what it cannot see, destroys what it does not know.

Such a man condones unmerciful violence – murder in the name of righteousness. “Leave your coat at my feet,” he says. “The blood of this rebel, this blasphemer will not taint your spotless robe of self-righteousness.”

“But his words are true!” One may dare to argue with the man of stone. “His claim comes from the prophets, from the mouth of God. How can you ignore the truth?”

He cannot hear. His ears have been stopped. He cannot see. He has not vision. Only passion, coupled with arrogance. And so the innocent is crushed, with our heartless legalist looking on with approval. Nodding grimly. Counting… one down, so many more to go.

So many more to go. And he goes.

Until Truth blinds him. Until light casts him into darkness and he cannot see his way to persecute.

“Who are you, Lord?”

“It is I, the Christ. The one you are persecuting.”

And suddenly life changes. The heart of stone is melted into one of flesh. Blindness gives sight to that which cannot be seen, and new vision births purpose. Purpose is joined with passion. Saul is no longer, Paul has been born again.

Praise God, life changes.

I am a trophy of grace

Trophies on Display

For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? For ye are our glory and joy.  1 Thess. 2:19-20, KJV

I’ll bet my co-author can relate to these verses with a keen accuracy. Picture coronation day as she walks beside those brothers and sisters from another continent, another culture–another world. I can only imagine the joy she’ll experience watching those she loved and taught being welcomed into the kingdom.

Trophies of grace. But not hers. Jesus’s. How glorious is that?

Hope.crownmemeA few years ago I was visiting with a couple who had been called out of darkness and into His light. Their testimony is quite beautiful–though the journey was littered with ugliness. Hearing their story lifted my soul. A phrase echoed in my mind as I rejoiced in Jesus’s breathtaking work.

Trophies of grace. How amazing is that?

One of my favorite sights on any given Sunday morning is that of a group of young men. Still in high school, but not for long, they stir a unique joy in me. They’re not your average teenagers. They are godly young men who behave with honor, holding each other accountable in a small group bible study they initiated. They astound me–largely because I knew them back when they were folding paper airplanes in my SS class. Now they volunteer their time to work with Awana kids, and lead soccer camp for our church every summer. They look to their futures with the Son in their eyes.

Trophies of grace. The kind you never saw coming. How awesome is that?