June 3, 2020

Sundays with Michael Spencer: January 11, 2015

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Note from CM: 2015 will mark five years since the death of Michael Spencer, the Internet Monk. Today, we continue our “Sundays with Michael” series with an excerpt from post that was originally published in January 2009.

• • •

It’s a sad fact that what God has revealed about himself in Jesus doesn’t exactly have a huge audience. But say that God is angry, mean and about to show us just how much with a few displays of wrath and suffering? You’ll fill a stadium.

You see, the grace of God just doesn’t fit in our box. How can God really–I mean c’mon!–how can God be gracious to (fill in the blank with Hollywood celebrities, famous politicians, loudmouth pundits, your jerky boss, that teacher who failed you unfairly, your ex-whatever, people with guns and bombs, and so on)?

God’s gracious face makes our religion fall apart. It takes away all our soapboxes. It shuts our mouths, because none of us deserve it and all of us can have it. God’s love and grace are so far beyond our ideas of what they ought to be that none of our ideas about God can survive the good news that comes in Jesus. Jesus is a salvation, grace, goodness, God revolution.

Titus 2 puts it so well: “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people…” That’s what has appeared in Jesus. He did not come to condemn, but to save. In him, there is no condemnation. In Jesus, the Father shows his gracious face to all of us, for everything.

Man with a Withered Hand, Tissot

Man with a Withered Hand, Tissot

In Mark 3: 1-6, Jesus is in church and the religious leaders want to bust him for healing on the Sabbath. They had decided that God was the kind of mean and trivial dictator that cared more about the order of service than a human being’s suffering. So Jesus heals this man, but Mark describes something utterly unique and stunning: “And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ He stretched it out, and his hand was restored.”

The image of Jesus healing in righteous anger at the religious bean counters–who were about to start the process of killing him–is for one simple reason: They sat in synagogue representing God as more interested in a stupid rule than in proclaiming and enjoying his gracious face of compassion for a hurting person.

So Jesus heals that man, put he’s pretty ticked off. If he was the God these guys believed in, he’d have turned them all into Alpacas. Which would have been pretty cool….but you get the point.

Let’s stop it. Let’s stop hiding the face of a gracious God. Let’s show it, sing it, worship in its light, live as if we know that gracious, glorious God as the one the Bible proclaims and who comes to us in Jesus.

Let’s enjoy the face of a gracious God. Now and forever.

Comments

  1. Awesome!

  2. Ditto, Adrienne.!

  3. Michael’s wonderful way of talking about and explaining grace was always a help to me.

  4. It seems to me that we are SOOOO hell-bent (literally) on denying God’s grace and mercy to sinners around us because we only see their actions and hear their words…..we do not and cannot know the pain, abuse, misinformation, trials and miseries of another human being. We judge solely on what fruit they show to us and the world……The Lord is not hampered like this.

    Meanwhile, I know all the rotten things I do, but I also can understand the experiences and personality traits that lead to these sins, and how much I struggle against them…and still fail, and sin, over and over. I can trust that the God who made me and who knows all of this can have mercy because of ________, ___________, and most of all ___________ from my past.

    Yup, if God can shower ME with Grace, He can shower every human He has made the same way, even when we cannot see why. This does not mean that human consequences for sins that hurt others (murder, rape, assault) such as jail are unjust, but we can never know the effects of grace on a soul…..sometimes even our own.

    • Amen, sister!

      We also have to remember that sometimes our decisions are tainted by our own traumas and misinformation. The way other people come off to us may be very similiar to how we come off to them. Their reaction may indeed be to our own wrongheaded language and approaches.

      Love and grace are good. Love and grace are hard!

      • I’ll go you one better! We show a lack of grace to others because we see our OWN faults and sins in others, and despise them for it! We are like the parable about the man who was forgiven a great debt, but who then goes to one who own him a minor debt and demands recompense.

        Along with grace comes mercy. They are inseparable.

        • A speaker at a retreat once shared that parable and he used a term that’s stuck with me. He called it “The $3 Choke.” We choke people over a $3 debt they owe us, ignoring that we’ve just been totally absolved of the $30 million debt we owed someone else.

        • Yup. That’s a lesson I’ve been learning: I most detest in others what I hate in myself.

          Working on that.

        • so Oscar, the greater the finger-pointers do their thing, the more sins they personally carry themselves . . . I think if that is true, then there is a great justice in what you say because the finger-pointers are revealing themselves without realizing it, while they are in the act of throwing stones at ‘the others’ . . . 🙂

          ‘Projection’ is a phrase sometimes used in psychology to describe a similar behavioral phenomenon.

          “Projection is a defense mechanism that involves taking our own unacceptable qualities or feelings and ascribing them to other people.”
          http://psychology.about.com/od/theoriesofpersonality/ss/defensemech_7.htm

          And this makes sense, because it parallels what Our Lord did when He came to the scene of the stoning of the fallen woman, and bent down to write in the sand . . . when the men read what He wrote, they put down their stones and walked away
          . . . Our Lord is very good at holding up a mirror . . . He helps us see that within ourselves which is in need of His healing . . . and then He helps us put down our stones

  5. It seems to me that we are SOOOO hell-bent (literally) on denying God’s grace and mercy to sinners around us because we only see their actions and hear their words… We judge solely on what fruit they show to us and the world…

    And Lord help them if their actions were directed towards US.

    And Lord help us if, like Jonah, we are called to witness to them.

  6. This is the writing that drew me to the IM community. This.

    I was raised among the Calvinistic Premillennial Sovereign Grace Landmark Baptist folks and a Sunday would not go by that I would not hear some mention of Grace. It was in the name of our church. It was in the songs we sang. It was in the Sunday school lessons. I knew TULIP about the same time as I learned John 3:16, I believe. Grace, or at least Calvinistic Grace, was woven throughout the life of the church I was raised in. It was the one attribute of God that ironically, for Sovereign Grace Baptists, I was never expected to emulate. At least to the undeserving. Grace to our own was expected. Grace to the fallen, for sure. But Grace to the Arminians? The Churches of Christ? The Charismatics? In no wise.

    But it was not until I read Michael Spenser, Brennan Manning, and others who spoke about extending Grace to THEM (and not just “us”) that I truly felt that I was gaining an understanding of Grace.

    Thank God for Michael and his ilk who practiced a furious, relentless, pursuing Grace. It saved my faith.

    • +1 to Brennan Manning. Other than the Bible, “Ragamuffin Gospel” is the best book on grace I’ve ever read.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      I was raised among the Calvinistic Premillennial Sovereign Grace Landmark Baptist folks…

      “Calvinistic Premillennial Sovereign Grace Landmark Baptist ” — now THAT’s a mouthful!

      • Narrow is the way, and few walk it.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          “The one in a hundred Predestined to walk the cold, grey, hard, drab, joyless path of Salvation.”
          — James Michener, Hawaii, describing the background of the New England Puritan missionaries to “Owhyhee”

    • I have a hard time with grace. I want to extend it to others, but at times I feel it makes me soft and thus open to heresy, to error, to accepting whatever someone tells me because I’m extending grace to them.

      Grace is tough.

      • So what if it makes you soft. They said similar things about Jesus. At this point in my life, I would rather be loving than right. Each and every time.

        • Amen. Galatians 5:22-23 – “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

          I think Jesus is more bothered when I withhold grace and fail to bear the fruit of the Spirit than when I over-extend grace and show too much love. For me, if I’m going to err, it’s on erring on the side of grace. I doubt I’ll be condemned for that.

          • Was it Pope Francis or Benedict that said he’d rather have Jesus be mad at him for showing too much mercy than for not showing enough?

  7. I really do hope he's right says

    Forgive the anonymous post, but I’m not ready to put my name out there yet.

    Michael Spencer was quite an amazing person and he writes beautifully.

    Sadly, I feel very little anymore when I read these kinds of pieces. Perhaps a momentary twinge of hope, but not much else. In my experience, the kind of grace that he speaks of is little more than rhetoric – it doesn’t exist in any concrete form in Christian theology, nor in the history of the church or Christian practice, nor make much sense in light of actual human existence and suffering, both now and in the future. None, and I mean not a single one of the churches that I’ve ever attended, has held a theology that consistently believed in this kind of extravagant grace. None. Grace is either (1)disbursed to a limited group of elect and withheld from everyone else, or (2) it’s “offered” to all (in some mysterious way) but in the end is simply not powerful to break thru our “free will”, hardness, and irrationality. So God kind of shrugs his shoulders and lets people go to their fate since he “gave everyone a chance”.

    Either way, I’ve had to come to the depressing conclusion that God’s love is very much “conditional” and that when Christianity looks down the road at where human existence is going, for some (perhaps a great many?) this simply doesn’t end well. Grace either didn’t choose them or can’t win them.

    I do love this community and get so much from the posts and reading your comments, so please don’t understand this comment as negative or inflammatory or anything.

    • Great comments. You’ve hit upon a struggle many of us share and have either worked our way through or continue to mull over. I’ve found myself drifting toward the semi-heretical “universalism” for many of the reasons you state here. If Jesus’ blood DOES cover all sin, then who am I to say he can’t save even those who don’t appear to “know Him” or “accept Him.” Jesus is THE WAY, of that I have no doubt, and I have no doubt that those who understand he is THE WAY are saved. I just now happen to believe His WAY can possibly save even those who don’t understand that he is THE WAY.

      Not sure any of that makes sense. This is certainly a newer belief drift of mine, based upon a lot of thinking and reading of scripture, and a belief I didn’t have 5 years ago. In fact, if someone had come to me back then and shared some of the things I think now with me, I’d probably have thought they’d gone over the edge.

      Excellent comment. Thanks for having the guts to share it.

      • I really do hope he's right says

        Thanks for your comment Rick. Your thoughts make perfect sense to me. And I can relate to your journey.

        CS Lewis said something similar: “We do know that no man can be saved except through Christ; we do not know that only those who know Him can be saved by Him.” It was said in relation to an inclusivist belief.

        The universal reconciliation belief is really just the combination of the Orthodox beliefs of:
        1 – the Augustinians/Calvinists/reformed types who believe that God has the sovereign ability to save (however one defines the nature of “salvation”) whoever He chooses to
        2 – the Arminians, Catholics, most evangelicals who believe that God loves and desires to save and each and every person.

        But, the first group denies that God wants to save all people (which Arminians, most Catholics, etc would find heretical) while the second group denies that God has the power to save those whom he loves and that it boils down to human choice (which most reformed find heretical). It is curious that universal reconciliation is considered “semi-heretical” (at best) in the West when it’s nothing more than the combination of what two groups would consider to be orthodox. Theological complexity obscures the simplicity of it.

        In the end, I just feel like most of the grace talk that I hear from Christians obscures the following:
        1) Either God never intended to extend grace to all individual people but to a limited chosen elect group and freely rejects the rest of His own accord or:
        2) God is powerless over our “free will”, and in the end God will let people damn themselves no matter how fierce His love for them and how irrational their choices.

        IMO, this is what’s hidden below the surface when talking about grace – the fear that when beliefs and doctrines are truly examined, we’ll recognize that there are limits to grace’s extravagance. And I think that many Christians live with the anxiety of this (either for themselves or others) even if they can’t name it.

        • I’m actually nearly finished writing a sci-fi book which has a message related to your #2. In my opinion, God isn’t “powerless” over our free will, He just chooses to allow His sovereignty to be “trumped” by it, so to speak. Kinda like…a loving God will relinquish His power at times to show His love. For example, Jesus saying that he could call down several legions of angels to end it all during his trial, but choosing not to: that’s relinquishing power for a purpose and does NOT mean that he isn’t sovereign.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Great comments. You’ve hit upon a struggle many of us share and have either worked our way through or continue to mull over. I’ve found myself drifting toward the semi-heretical “universalism” for many of the reasons you state here.

        Remember Rob Bell? Wrote a book titled “Love Wins” and got piled on by Team Hell before it even hit the shelves? I discovered his blog recently (http://robbellcom.tumblr.com/archive) and his “What is the Bible?” series is at the very least a different perspective (and one that I find makes a lot of sense).

        • +1

          I’m on post # 23 in the series.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            I read all his posts in one long sitting plus sleep deprivation, so they all kinda blur together. But there’s one thing I DO remember:

            His terms “Poem Truth” and “Math Truth”. About how the Bible was written before “Math Truth” existed and how since the Age of Reason our culture has been into “Math Truth” to the point they apply it to “Poem Truth”.

            My example is Ken Ham, who reads the Poem Truth of Genesis as Math Truth. Also the questors for Noah’s Ark, those who calculate the biology of Jonah getting swallowed…

    • May I humbly suggest you read something by Jesuit Fr. James Martin? He has authored several books (my favorite is “The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything”), and his writing is very down-to-earth, inspiring, and Grace-filled.

      He is also very active on Twitter (@JamesMartinSJ) and Facebook.

      Pax Christi,
      Rafael

    • I can relate. Grace only saves, it certainly doesn’t extend past salvation and justification. You’ve been saved by grace so that you may now perfectly fulfill the Law…you don’t *have* to, you *get* to it.

      And it’s a crock of horse droppings, ain’t it?

      I don’t see grace in the church. Not anywhere really. Only in individuals, many of whom are definitely outside the church.

      • Grace MUST be more than Jesus coming to fulfill the death penalty of sin. Penal substitution bullshit.

        • Jesus is worthless otherwise. Great, he died. So now the penalty of sin, death, is absolved. Guess what remains?

          LAW.

          Now get to work, little sheep. His burden is light, because now you don’t die from those rules. See how much easier it is now? Daily you will be perfected into his likeness. Come, little sheep. Come and see the Lord is good.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            And make sure to TITHE TITHE TITHE!

            It costs $200 grand to juice Pastor’s new book onto the Best-Seller List!

    • Another thought…

      The ones I’ve seen who most believe this grace stuff are rapidly called antinomianisms and run out of town.

      Which is so strange…to condemn someone for believing so strongly about grace…

    • I really do hope he’s right,
      I empathize with your struggle. I could say that reading a little Karl Barth, who focuses on Jesus as the only subject and bearer both of God’s grace and judgment, and who came to embrace a position of potential universalism, has helped me, but I know that the theological questions you raise are rooted in existential experiences and problems.

      Today, as I drove home from church, I saw an emaciated and confused stray cat stagger across the road in front of several cars, obviously suffering severely from extreme cold temperatures and hunger, and then stumble off into the woods. All my theological systems, my tissue of theological fantasies, scattered like so much blinding snow; my heart sank as I was gripped yet again, as I have been so many times in the past, by the impossibility of putting my trust in a God who is silent and unmoving in the face of the anonymous and lonely suffering of one of his helpless creatures. Nothing can make sense out of it, nothing; and that’s just a thimbleful of suffering in a wide universe of suffering.

      Who are you, God? Why are you silent? Where is your grace for this tormented creature in your comfortless desert of a frozen world? How can you expect us to believe in your goodness? How can you have the nerve? Help this creature, Lord Jesus; deliver it from suffering. Help all your suffering, confused creatures, Lord; give them warmth and love. Help me, Lord Jesus, not to be overcome by despair and anger; deliver me from this darkness, and give me hope.

      There are no answers, none that I’ve found to stand up under the brutal light of experience; there is only prayer, and endurance, and doing what I can to make the world a little lighter and kinder, and hoping, and looking to the invisible face of Jesus, the God who suffers….nothing else, even though it’s not enough….

      • Did you go looking for that cat to help relieve its suffering? See where I’m going here?

        A boat load of suffering continues because others, calling themselves enlightened, compassionate, WHATEVER, do nothing in the face of suffering. Often we do what we can, but the default setting in the world is suffering and death. It is our legacy and future. God’s fault? Adam’s? No one’s?

        • I did what I could, but the cat was wary of anyone approaching, as dying creatures often are. It had disappeared into the woods before I parked the car in a safe place.

          Yes, a lot of suffering continues because no one stops to help; the fact that it started in the first place, though, is another matter altogether. Suffering starts, and ends (if it does end), with God. If I keep looking to Jesus, it’s only because of one thing: I couldn’t possibly believe in a God who hasn’t earned his right to be God in a world of suffering by suffering himself. If there is a God, he must, he had better, look like Jesus on the cross, otherwise he couldn’t possibly be anything but a demented monster. Even looking like Jesus on the cross, I struggle to believe that he’s not a demented monster.

          • I really do hope he's right says

            Robert, your thoughts really resonate with me, so thanks. Ultimately there aren’t many answers that have fully satisfied me when it comes to questions of suffering and where existence is headed. My questions always end up going further than the answers. Even when I think I answer one question, there’s another one right there. So I think you’re right, my hope has to be in a crucified God. I honestly don’t think there are any other options that would give meaning to the reality of human suffering. And I hope that grace does extend much much further than what I’ve been taught and what Christian theology actually states when examined closely.

          • Indeed, the only God I’m capable of worshipping is the one who decides to place himself in the midst of his own creation and decides to suffer just as his creation suffers. (Not sure how I would’ve done had I been born during Old Covenant days…)

          • It is the unanswerable question: why does God allow suffering. I once felt like you did, hating God and blaming Him, suffering from severe depression. I guess we will never know, all we can do is trust Him in the seasons we go through in life. Somehow He carried me through this doubt and have hope in Him, knowing that all are in His hands. I have just put this question to rest by thinking that this is one of those things we will never know in this lifetime, but one thing I know is that sometimes God’s goodness and grace can break through and I know it and believe it. Michael Spencer went through so much himself, yet God’s grace still breaks through because we are talking right now on this blog and his prediction about evangelicals has come true. We see so much pain, injustice, disappointment but we also see forgiveness, truth, love that speaks of greater things.

          • Robin, Why do you say that I hate God? And are you saying that depression is caused by wrong belief?

      • And I can’t accept that it’s man’s fault through original sin that that cat is in that condition. I just can’t anymore.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          Surd Evil.
          Evil and wrong that seems to have no source except “s**t happens”.
          Ungoliant instead of Morgoth.
          It’s been covered before here at IMonk; search the archives for “surd evil”.

          • An agnostic coworker of mine once read a quote from some popular snark source to the effect of, “‘Jesus, why do bad things happen to good people?’ ‘Because bad things happen to everyone.’ ‘Oh… thanks, I guess…'”

            I was confused as to how that was supposed to be a jab at anything, as what better answer is there? The glib “because you deserve it?” Really, it’s almost comforting!

          • I don’t see that the idea of surd evil explains anything, or helps make anything more endurable. It merely throws all the questions of theodicy back on an inscrutable, and unresponsive, God. It doesn’t settle any of the issues, and it doesn’t provide comfort. And it doesn’t quiet my inner Gnostic.

          • A good point. I suppose for me, it’s almost as if to say “don’t worry about it. I’ve got it covered.” However, I’ve never been one to accept that as an answer for ANYTHING, so this “comfort” could really be just be a defense mechanism against the sort of intellectual burnout that the Problem of Evil tends to cause.

            Honestly, it’s a crapshoot.

    • I really do hope….

      Those are hard questions and I sympathize with your thoughts and struggle. I hesitate to suggest more reading, but you might consider taking a look at The Inescapable Love of God by Thomas Talbott.

  8. Love this re-post!

    Hebrews 1:3a – “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being…”

    Want to know what God is like? Look at Jesus. Look at the things he said and did. He was all about grace to the sinner, forgiveness, love and mercy. He was also AGAINST religious people who were all about the Law.

    When I got baptized a couple years ago, after 25 years as a Christian, it was because I finally understood God’s grace, as depicted by His Son Jesus Christ.

  9. It’s posts like this that make me both miss Michael’s writing and believe that in so many ways he was a prophetic voice that the church needed, and still needs, to hear. If only Christian communities could better (not perfectly; that will never happen this side of heaven in my opinion) live out the grace that Michael writes of here, so many of the church’s problems, particularly in evangelicalism, would fade away.

    Why don’t we see more of Jesus-like grace? I think because it’s hard. Specifically, it is incompatible with pride or any feeling of being special or having achieved some spiritual status that means we deserve God’s favor just a little more than those people over there. It has no room for our ego, however spiritually coated. It strips everything down to all of us standing underserving before Jesus and Him welcoming us anyway.

    There are Christians whose lives are a testimony to this kind of grace, but I think they are still the exception rather than the rule. The rest of us stumble along beset to varying degrees by our own stubborn pride, and in the worst cases without even being aware of the damage this causes.

  10. I believe the story of the man with the withered hand has much more to do with Jesus than grace. The healing would have been a messianic sign the scribes and pharisees should have recognized, which I believe they did. If Jesus was the messiah, then not just the Lord of the Sabbath but the true king and priest of Israel had appeared, meaning they lost their power. It’s the story of Herod the Great all over again: Jesus as a threat to power and status quo. Jesus did come with grace and mercy; the human rule of the pharisees had nothing to do with grace but power and greed.

    Much of evangelicalism today has the same pharisaic lust for power. Building spiritual empires or political lobbies has nothing to do with grace. People are just a commodity to accomplish those goals. It has nothing to do with Jesus, unless you consider “Jesus” a brand name of corporate religion. Jesus would not have faired any better had he arrived in the 21st century rather than the first.

    • There is a passage from one of the minor prophets which essentially states that idolatry manifests itself through inhumanity. If I can find it again, I’ll post it here. I think this true for this story as well. When the Ultimate Concern becomes power, politics, patriotism, fanaticism, empire-building, or mere pleasure and self-preservation, then atrocities follow.

  11. Michael’s writing with a Tissot painting – literary and visual brilliance.
    This is a wonderful Sunday series you’ve begun.

  12. PastorDave says

    Yes,Yes,Yes and Yes again! The Grace of God is literally amazing! Every week at church I say that God is for us and not against us. Sadly most people have a hard time accepting that.

  13. I grew up in a church that never talked about grace. The focus every week was on our actions. I actually believed that I could perform good enough to be accepted by God on my own merits, even though I knew that Jesus had died for my sins. I did not realize that I was truly a sinner. If I screwed up I would repent and then all would be well again, but that was me and my work, it had nothing to do with Jesus. This church was just like the one talked about in this post. God would always follow rules before mercy or compassion.
    As an adult I ran from God and hid. I did not want to be good. I would always say “when I feel like being good I will come back”, but I really never wanted to work that hard and being bad felt pretty good. It was a heck of a lot more fun, and way less boring. I was tired of wearing the goody two shoes label and trying to be perfect.
    When my daughter turned teenager she started going to youth group at the church down the street. I would go down there to hear her sing. I felt such peace in that place and I started hearing about this God of Grace. I could not believe it. This was way to good to be true. I thought those people were nuts! I knew I was bad and I also knew their were something’s I was not ready to give up. But I kept hearing about this God who loved us in spite of all that. That the focus of my life was to look at Christ and what he had done for us. Finally one day I just believed that Gods mercy and grace were for me too. That He could, would, and did love me and accept me in spite of myself. It was a humbling experience.
    Since then, I have found it much easier to show grace to those around me. It is still very hard at times. Sometimes I wonder if their is ever a line where we have shown grace too far. But I don’t think so. For me it is like the verse that says ” we love because he first loved us”…. I can show grace because He first showed grace.

    • Heather, you just stated the Sparks Notes version experience of almost everyone here. At least MY experience, if no one else’s.

  14. Robin Christopher says

    Someone stood in our church fellowship and read a small piece suggesting that we should not sing the song “Oceans” any more because(contemporary service) because it doesn’t represent the experience or the aspirations of us as christians (of course the point was meant for reflection). Maybe we have so few visible examples of the Grace life because media is exactly what this kind of person doesn’t seek.

    Your grace abounds in deepest waters
    Your sovereign hand
    Will be my guide
    Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
    You’ve never failed and you won’t start now

    So I will call upon Your name
    And keep my eyes above the waves
    When oceans rise
    My soul will rest in your embrace
    For I am Yours and You are mine

    Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
    Let me walk upon the waters
    Wherever You would call me
    Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
    And my faith will be made stronger
    In the presence of my Savior

    Sometimes I don’t know what to think except the feeling of the guy in the back of the church saying “God have mercy on me”

  15. For this piece, and others, I’ll always highly regard Michael. Still “friends” with him on Facebook it turns out, was doing some digital pruning…I’ll never forget this guy who I’d been reading for a few years reaching out and befriending me and talking privately with me on some things way back when.

    THIS is the type of Christianity I need to hear. Give me grace. Give me this endless good news. I’m not finding it in most buildings, despite how everyone tells me their church/tradition is different.

    Seems it’s something a rare few find outside, and then by effort of will (or grace of God?) stay within their local places.

  16. This ‘ought’ show us that none of us have a snowball’s chance in hell (if we are to attempt to muster up enough goodness in ourselves).