My Other Life... I am not always reading my Bible and scribbling footnotes to almost every verse. In my other life, I am a Scottish Penny Wedding Planner. (Go on...ask me about Scottish Penny Weddings!) Here is a tiny slice of my day (trust me...a very tiny slice...this doesn't show the half of it...the EIGHTH of it...will I make it to May 15th?)

"Where's the Tartan plaid ribbon?"

A pew, or in our case "row" of six. Made of peonies, in bloom mid-May, hydrangea, and Scottish heather...I made it myself.

::perky sniffff::

The mess that is constantly on my dining room table...

A bridesmaid's dress - the wedding will be "jewel toned"

This "So Great a Salvation"

So let's not even call it "grace". Even though the word "grace" is used more than one hundred twenty times in the New Testament, if it seems like overkill to hear me refer to the term "grace" so often, let's just lay that word aside. Let's call it "the gospel". Let's say that this "gospel" is meant for daily living, from the time I am saved until the day I die, this gospel is the power of God unto salvation...I am saved, I am being saved, and I will be saved, and "so great a salvation" it is!

This power is only as real to you as it is effective in you. Power is not a concept, it is active and living. "Energy" is the ability to do work, and Paul said that God's work was at work in him mightily. This work is that finished work of Christ. You'll have something to show for this work that God does!

We are so complete, in Him! More than a theoretical completeness, it is a completeness that makes you so rich in God, so fulfilled, you become an easy person to live with or be with.

We'll never outgrow our need to study this gospel, apply it, savor it, allowing it to come alive in us. This gospel is only as powerful in you, as it systematically touches your every insecurity, meets you at your most gaping inadequacy, and informs your daily decisions. It is active in you, to the direct proportion that you find yourself enabled to love the brethren, and I do not mean the ability to be patronizing - I mean actually seeing others, in some real way, as being better than yourself.

If you find yourself stuck in the same old insecurities, still struggling with an overwhelming sense of being inadequate as a wife, mother, daughter, or friend; if you find that God can change your eternal destiny, but He can rarely change your DAY, if you find yourself passionless in your marriage - or if you are someone who kicks people to the curb who disagree with you on incidentals...your heart becoming guarded and cold and distant....ah. That is not the gospel. The gospel is better than that, happier than that, fuller than that. Others can have their issues, but you don't have to have them. There is no need for such angst. You need a good gospel foundation, still.

I need it. I want it, I need it, and since I hunger and thirst for it, I am, over time, being filled.

Our good friend and mentor Neil Silverberg ( wrote a beautiful song, long ago, that encapsules this whole thing:

In the gospel
I have found all that I need!
Oh, in the gospel
If I only would believe,
Mercy flowing down from heaven
Oceans of His love!
I can't believe that the gospel's for free!
I can't believe what He started in me!
If I had ten thousand years to proclaim the gospel
Praise His name!

Regardless of how many years I have walked with the Lord, I stand in need of a Savior. I have areas of my life that deeply need to be touched by the power of the gospel.

Now. Let's go back to the word, first used in the New Testament by John, the disciple whom Jesus loved....the disciple closest to His heart (this is no coincidence!). Let's return to the word used by the great Apostle Paul:


Desiring God

I've not had time to read blogs lately. In fact, for many weeks, I have only skimmed them. No time to do what I call "lolly-blogging". Thankfully, I have good friends who send choice bits directly to my email box, and that is how I've recently spent any computer-research time I might have. I've been checking out the choice bits, already pre-screened for me by friends who know what I like!

I salivate and weep over the thought that some teachers have paid research staff. I rely on a few Dear Ones who keep an eye out for me. They are the best, and I want to thank them...they know who they are.

Far, far more than anything, in recent weeks (ask my man!) I've had my face buried in my Bible. I'm telling you, I almost don't come up for air! When I do come up for air, I am furiously scribbing with a pen, or I am blogging about what I've seen in the pages of Scripture. I'd be so excited to blog the pages and pages of hand written notes I have - nothing but thoughts and revelation as I've poured over Isaiah, Zechariah, Psalms and the Epistles. But two or three blog-articles, sent to my email of recent weeks, have piqued my interest. I try to save them for later, and hope to read them. One such article, was the piece I already posted in its entirety, by Blake Coffee on Earning the Privilege of Healing Each Other.

Here is another, by the enduring John Piper. I share a part of it here, it comes from his blog "Desiring God". I am smiling in utter satisfaction, because it matches many of my own thoughts regarding the same passage in Romans - want to see my notes??


If you have lucked out like me today, and have a window of time to read this whole message, it is well worth the investment. Entitled "All Things for Good, Part III", you'll find it at I have actually had time this evening to read the whole thing, every word.

Love. It.

Here is a portion:

"All things work together for good to those who love God and to those who are called according to his purpose."

So there are two things that must be true of us if this promise is to be ours. It does not come true for everybody. It comes true for those who love God and are called according to God’s purpose.

These are not two groups of people. This is one group of people with two things true of them: 1) they love God; 2) they are called according to his purpose. Why does Paul mention these two things instead of just one of them? Here is my suggestion.

If he had only said that all things work together for good for those who love God, it would have sounded like the promise rests on pretty flimsy ground. My love for God is a flimsy ground for this promise. It is an experience in my heart. And my heart is notoriously fickle and variable and weak. To make such a massive promise rest on such a fragile human experience alone would be to make a mountain rest on a marshmallow.

So Paul says, this promise does not just rest on your marshmallow heart, it rests on God’s calling and purpose. "All things work together for good . . . for those who are called according to his purpose." Here we have God’s work, not my experience. God’s call, not my consciousness. This is solid. This is divine. This is powerful and deep and strong.

But what if Paul had only said, "All things work together for good for those who are called"? Then we would want to ask, How do I know if I am called? We would want some sign that God has in fact done this great and powerful and wonderful thing: he has called me.

So Paul gives both. He tells us the objective, solid, divine work of God that makes the promise unshakeable: he called us according to his purpose. And he tells us what happened in us when God called us so that we can know it has happened: we love God and all that he is for us in Jesus Christ. So we have two things that must be true of us if this promise is to be ours. Our love is subjective, and God’s call is objective. Our love is our act, and God’s call is his act. Our love is an effect, and God’s love is the cause.

In other words, the call of God according to his purpose is part of the massive, deep, unshakeable foundation Paul is laying in
Romans 8 that keeps this promise from falling and makes it believable. You are not the key here. God is the key here. His work will keep this promise true for you, or it won’t be true for you. Because your love is too fragile and uncertain. But God’s call is not fragile and not uncertain. And it not only brought your love into being but will keep it in being so that the promise of Romans 8:28 will be true for you forever.

New Testament Letters

My husband and I talk of doctrine and proper Biblical interpretation. We dialogue issues of healing, Holy Spirit, predestination, grace, and the crying need in the church for teachers (and all saints) to read the Word of God in expository fashion. I learn a great deal from these discussions (he does too, I think...) and some of what Tim says, sends me headlong into Scripture, to "search out whether these things be true." I've been far too conditioned to believe that "if it sounds too good to be true, it IS too good to be true."

Not so, our God.

This week alone, I've determined not to even begin a book in the Bible, if I could not finish it at one sitting. I began in Romans last Sunday. Each day after that, I made my way through I and II Cor., Gal., Eph., Phil.,Col., I and II Timothy, I and II Thessalonians, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, James, I and II Peter, I, II, and III John and Jude.

My desire is to grasp the whole panoramic scope of the God-inspired epistles, written to ordinary Christians. I closed my Bible on Jude today, and after hours of reading these Epistles as whole bodies of work, I have come to the conclusion that the Holy Spirit spent a great deal of time - most of the Epistles - grounding people in grace, in one form or another. (Peter talks of the "manifold" grace of God....many, many various expressions. You'll never exhaust your study of it.) Much effort was poured out to see to it that God's people would find a place of rest, with enlightened eyes and boundless hope.

Two things I know after looking at the New Testament epistles as a whole: you cannot separate the finished work of Christ from the body of Christ. You don't walk this stuff out alone - too much of the New Testament is dedicated to describing the effect of such Amazing Grace. Much of the New Testament speaks to the sort of living that "becometh" saints; rooted NOT in doing right for the sake of doing right, but all of it rooted in relationship and unfeigned love.

The other thing I know is that these things are not instantly understood. Putting a right foundation under people doesn't just happen, and it won't happen unless someone, on purpose, lays a foundation, or rebuilds it, or shores it up, depending on the need.

Peter even made the point in his epistle, and I paraphrase, that "Paul says things in his letters that are weighty and hard to be understood. But it isn't Paul's fault. The untaught and the unstable wrestle over ALL the Scripture, not just Paul's material"....and then Peter boldly says that all the wrestling some folks do, isn't healthy for them.

In the words of AW Tozer, and in my own experience (both of years past, and today), "We do not understand in order to believe. We believe in order to understand." God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.

Peter is all the proof text you need to assert that grace doctrines are not kiddie Christianity. These truths are basic to our faith, yes, but not at all are they some sort of "easy believe-ism". Our mind needs constant renewing with this Word of the all sufficiency of Christ, and we need to be taught how to walk in such a way that is becoming to "growth in grace". Little children in the faith, experience the removal of sin-consciousness. Little children.

Our spiritually "young men" have grown in grace to the point that they experience, in a very personal way, victory after victory over the evil one.

Our spiritual fathers have walked many years in these truths, they have experienced the very heart of God, and reproduced it. Fathers are able to see and to teach the grace of God in Scripture, from Genesis onward. They know Him who is who He says He is, and has always been this way from the beginning. Fathers have experienced the God of Eden ("He who was from the beginning") and the God of Mt. Zion and of Calvary's hill. They don't camp on Mt. Sinai.

Your human understanding can see glimmers of the truth, here and there, but without revelation, nothing of any substance is retained. You don't get this stuff with your human understanding. Without revelation, you will still be describing grace in very generic terms, with no radical shift in your experience, no affect on your relationships. You need a pastor, who teaches and preaches the finished work of Christ - a pastor who prays for you that : The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints...

Here is a final thought...I want to ask this question: Who are the overcomers?

I've entertained many lofty ideas about what an overcomer would look like. If the truth be told (leave it to me to tell the truth on myself - that is "no nevermind" to me), my concept was mostly based on religious, charismatic traditions of men.

Oh, I could put a nice "spin" on it. I could even convince myself that my foundation has always been perfect. But that would not be dealing in reality - and God only deals in reality. I want God, therefore I must deal in reality.

Hear the words of the Jesus-lover, John. This was the man who made this Christian life all about relationship to God and the brethren. He said, "Who is he that overcometh, but he who believes Jesus Christ is the son of God?"

"This is the victory that overcomes the world...even our faith."

Whoever believes that Jesus Christ is the express image of God - that Jesus came to reveal the heart of God for His children - and successfully offered Himself, His own body, on the cross, so that we could be dead to sin, and then He rose again so that we could live lives clearly stamped by the righteousness of God....whoever believes all this, THAT PERSON is "he who overcometh."

Not he that attaineth or performeth, not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit says the Lord. The race is not for he who wills or he who's all God. I could go on and on.

I am seeing the big picture in a fresh perspective....honestly, the panoramic view. It is breathtaking.

Walking This Stuff Out

"As you've received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him..."

If it was okay for me to be saved by grace through faith, then I have decided that it is okay for me to LIVE by grace through by, and tomorrow, and the next day. I will walk in this grace of God in practical terms, as well as positional reality.

What this does, is make me child-like and sincere once again. What this grace-reality does, is inspire me to love people without ulterior motives of manipulation or control. What this does to me, is it makes me Christ-conscious, not sin- conscious...both towards myself and others. What a fresh understanding of grace does, is to make my faith real, as opposed to word-play.

I Timothy 1: 5 ~ Now the goal of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:

It is my choice - this decision to walk in Christ, the exact same way I received Him. Sounds suspiciously like realizing I have been naked, blind, and poor, when I thought I was better than that. Sounds suspiciously like a return to First Love.

I can live with that. Oh...I can live with that!

(Written by Haldor Lillenas in 1917, this next hymn, "Wonderful Grace of Jesus" came under some degree of criticism...because of its lilting, joyful melody! "We can handle the lyrics...but the happy way this song is sung...why, that just can't be right!" )

Wonderful grace of Jesus,
Greater than all my sin;
How shall my tongue describe it,
Where shall its praise begin?
Taking away my burden,
Setting my spirit free;
For the wonderful grace of Jesus reaches me.

Wonderful the matchless grace of Jesus,
Deeper than the mighty rolling sea;
Wonderful grace, all sufficient for me, for even me.
Broader than the scope of my transgressions,
Greater far than all my sin and shame,
O magnify the precious Name of Jesus.
Praise His Name!

Wonderful grace of Jesus,
Reaching to all the lost,
By it I have been pardoned,
Saved to the uttermost,
Chains have been torn asunder,
Giving me liberty;
For the wonderful grace of Jesus reaches me.

Wonderful the matchless grace of Jesus,
Deeper than the mighty rolling sea;
Wonderful grace, all sufficient for me, for even me.
Broader than the scope of my transgressions,
Greater far than all my sin and shame,
O magnify the precious Name of Jesus.
Praise His Name!

Wonderful grace of Jesus,
Reaching the most defiled,
By its transforming power,
Making him God’s dear child,
Purchasing peace and heaven,
For all eternity;
And the wonderful grace of Jesus reaches me.

Wonderful the matchless grace of Jesus,
Deeper than the mighty rolling sea;
Wonderful grace, all sufficient for me, for even me.
Broader than the scope of my transgressions,
Greater far than all my sin and shame,
O magnify the precious Name of Jesus.
Praise His Name!

Balance versus Synergy

synergy: the working together of two things, to produce an effect greater than each could produce by itself.

I love the book of James. I re-read the whole thing, today, for the who-knows-how-many time, and I cannot for the life of me see how some find James incompatible with the tapestry of grace found in the rest of the New Testament. James and Paul were not at odds. James and Paul didn't even "balance each other out". James and Paul, the book of James along with all other passages of New Covenant Scripture, work together incredibly harmoniously, and powerfully synergistically.

I don't worry so much about "balance" when I teach. In fact, you will almost never hear a perfectly "balanced" message, in person or in writing, from any preacher or teacher, regardless of how anointed or learned. To be "in balance" means two opposing weights (ideas, truths)more or less cancel each other out. No emphasis can be given to one side or the other - not and "be balanced". When you go for "balance", you will at some point encounter the Strain of the Artificial. (You also become quite critical...the tense sort of person who parses every word.) Anything alive is always moving around on you. Balance is a still-life painting. Synergy is art-in-motion.

The gospel isn't entirely balanced, but it is full of divine synergy. It isn't a letter, it is a spirit. The gospel can't be contained to a neat, intellectually equalized, logical, left brained package. It is both disturbing and comforting. It is living and powerful, full of concepts that, if taken separately, in some artificial effort towards balance, will cancel out effectiveness. But these same truths, if made alive in us, will work together to produce an effect much greater than the sum of their parts. No one illustrates this better than James.James 2: 17 ~ Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. {alone: Gr. by itself}Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

Faith...real grace through faith...will, in time and over time, change us from the inside out. Not the outside in. The Message, in James, says it this way, "A seamless unity of believing and doing."


The believing part comes first, by the way. You nor I will ever live beyond what we truly believe. What we truly believe will be lived out.

You can believe what you like. As for me...I am washed. I am made clean. I am the righteousness of God in Christ. I have been bought with a price, and am of immense value to God, because of the sacrifice of His son.

If I hear the truth spoken loud enough and long enough, I just might believe it. Whatever I believe about who God is, will translate to what I believe about who I am. That sort of faith cannot help but be active, and the resultant activity cannot help but affirm and deepen what I have come to believe.


It all starts with the good news of the finished work of Christ. My life begins there, ends there, and will be sustained for all my days in between, by faith in that finished work. without works really IS dead.

Two Things We All Need

“Grace and Peace to you…”

Let the sheer volume of Paul’s grace-greetings to the various saints sink into your spirit:

1Co 1:3 Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
2Co 1:2 Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
Ga 1:3 Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ,
Eph 1:2 Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
Eph 6:24 Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.
Php 1:2 Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
Col 1:2 To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Col 4:18 The salutation by the hand of me Paul. Remember my bonds. Grace be with you. Amen.
1Th 1:1 Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
1Ti 6:21 Grace be with thee. Amen.
2Ti 4:22 The Lord Jesus Christ be with thy spirit. Grace be with you. Amen.
Tit 3:15 All that are with me salute thee. Greet them that love us in the faith. Grace be with you all. Amen.
Heb 13:25 Grace be with you all. Amen. Written to the Hebrews from Italy, by Timothy.

Friends, if you think for a moment that this was just another way for Paul to day, “Yo dude, how’ya doin’”….if you think it was just a nice little Christian-y way to say, “Hi”… you couldn’t be more wrong.

Paul blessed the saints with “grace” or “grace and peace” because this man knew grace and peace to be the crying need of the entire body of Christ, every soul in it.

I am not too proud to concur. Please read that last sentence, if you don’t mind, just once more: I am not too proud to agree. I need a deeper understanding of this grace by which I stand.

It began to be expressed in Eden. Eden was the heart of God for humanity. No sweat. No sin. No sorrow. Even after the Great Fall, we can still see glimpses of this massive, grace-heartbeat of God- as almost instantly, prophesies of a coming Redeemer were communicated to shamed Adamic mankind. Hope!

Then. Oh, then. New Covenant Moment! A light in the night sky! A party in the heavenlies! A heavenly host, appearing to common shepherds, praising God and bringing The Message: “Glory to God in the highest! And on earth, peace, goodwill to men!”

The message was too simple. It was a happy moment. Go figure. No words of impending judgment. No hint of any performance on our part. Just believe. The shepherds did just that…and it changed them forever. They became the first to hear the Good News.

The Bible says the law was given….but grace came.

Law = impersonal. Grace = person. One was given. One came, in person. And grace is still coming to all who will humble themselves enough to admit they can’t get enough, to all who will embrace the weakness of the cross – which is very simply to count our human effort as dung, in order to know Him, and understand the immense suffering (on the cross) He endured in order to make us the righteousness of God in Christ. Yes, I need to fellowship (get to know the real reason behind – become acquainted with the deeper issues of) with that sort of suffering – his wounds purchased my healing. I need to be conformed into His image, allowing grace to come to others through me.

Grace and peace to you, church. And if you think you don’t need it….if you think you already have a handle on it….you are the one who needs it more than most.