Epic Grace — Book Review

A recent conversation I had with God went something like this…

Marie: Where are the blessings You promised?

God: All around you, Marie!  My grace is enough.

EpicGraceAnd then, in my mailbox, came this book to review for Tynedale House Publishers.   Now is that God, or what?

Every chapter of this book peeled away a layer of my sin and disobedience, revealing more of Gods love, forgiveness, and grace.  To be more precise…Epic Grace.  Through personal life experiences Kurt Bubna leads the reader to a greater understanding of grace.  Proving, without question, that forgiveness is a one on one issue.  Gods ability to love and extend grace is beyond our puny minds comprehension.  Yet, He continues to do just that.

Epic Grace, in each succeeding chapter, opened the door a little further into understanding that there is no life experience, good or bad, that is not surrounded by the Grace of God.  Personal stories, that often matched my own personal experiences, abound in this collection.  Bubna shows the direct relationship between the purpose God has for us and the relationship He wants with us.  I found myself ROTFL (rolling on the floor laughing) at some of his anecdotes and my heart breaking with compassion and empathy at others.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is desiring a closer relationship with our Lord.  As you read and relate to Kurt Bubna’s life walk I guarantee it will leave your concepts of God’s incredible love, grace, and forgiveness, changed.

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

FTC disclaimer: Tyndale House Publishers provided a copy of this book for the express purpose of public review.

Always Forgiven!

ResurrectionWE CANNOT OUT-SIN HIS FORGIVENESS!!!!

For Heaven’s sake don’t even think that I would ever suggest even trying.  One of the ways we get ever closer to Jesus likeness is our whole-hearted desire not to sin.  But we are human and we are sinful and that’s something we simply can’t ignore!

In Psalm 103:2-3 David tells us that we are not to forget His benefits and one of these is the forgiveness of sin.  For me, David’s words speak mountains of truth about forgiveness.  His story helps us understand that even the one (David) who had a Heart like His could and would sin!  David depended on God’s forgiveness, asked for it and it was given. Fully!

God is the God of the second, third, forth….chance.  Take a look at Jonah 1:1-3.  God told him to go to Ninevah and preach against its wickedness.  Jonah tried to run away and had the adventure and epiphiny of his life.  (Yes, my God is the Only One who could keep a man alive in the ‘belly of a whale’!)  Jonah 3:1 says the LORD spoke to him a second time and said go to Ninevah and proclaim the wickedness of the Ninevites.  Jonah obeyed!  God will forgive our disobedience but does expect to eventually obey.

Jesus tells us clearly in Matthew 6:14-15 that we must forgive others when they sin against us.  If we don’t the consequence is to big to imagine…the Father will not forgive us.  We are to be the picture of God to those around us.  If there is no way to out-sin God’s forgiveness then there is no sin of another that we can’t forgive.

Mighty, Awesome, Forgiving LORD!  Forgive my sins, the ones I know and the ones I don’t.  Give me Your super-natural ability to forgive those who have and will sin against me in some way.  Nurture in me a heart of forgiveness!  Make it so!!!

Words

Open Mouth

Have you have gotten caught up in the moment and said something you wish you hadn’t?  Are there times when you wish someone would put a bridle on your mouth and completely control your words?  Are there times when you wish you could sleep all day, hide, play computer games that take over your mind…? Then, guess what, that makes us all normal and still forgivable and lovable.  The real question is…How do we overcome these times?

First, we must realize we are as much an at fault sinner as the one we directed our words toward.  God knows that!  He knew when He breathed the Word.  The Bible is full of admonitions, both Old and New Testament, to guard our words.

Second, we must ask for forgiveness and then follow through with a change of heart.  I can get on my knees 50 times a day, some days 500, and ask for forgiveness but unless I decide, with God’s help, to change, the words are empty.

Then, and the hardest of all, is to ask for forgiveness from the one who has been harmed by the words.  Unlike God, they may choose to be unforgiving.  If that happens give it back to God and continue mending the relationship.

There is a delightful children’s song that says: Oh, be careful little mouth what you say.  Oh, be careful little mouth what you say.  For the Father up above is looking down in love.  Oh, be careful little mouth what you say.

Psalm 19:14  May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, oh Lord, my Strength and my Redeemer.

Heavenly Father, creator of all words and languages, Lord of my life, forgive me for words hastily spoken.  Control my words (and thoughts) toward or about others.  Let my life be acceptable to You.  Make it so!

Matthew 6:9-13

New International Version (NIV)

The front side (recto) of Papyrus 1, a New Tes...

The front side (recto) of Papyrus 1, a New Testament manuscript of the Gospel of Matthew. Most likely originated in Egypt.

“This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,[a]
    but deliver us from the evil one.[b]

For yours is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory forever. 

I do wonder why that last line is so often left out.  It’s definitely the perfect closing and every 2nd grader who has learned to write a letter has learned it must have a greeting, a body, and a closing.  Ah, well, I digress…..

How often have you said these Words in worship or prayer or song and that’s just what they are..words?  We’re going to take a couple of minutes and just look at a couple of hidden gems in this beautiful prayer.

 Jesus did not say ‘Every time you pray you MUST use these words.  He said, “This, then, is how you should pray:” meaning this is a template, blueprint, or even an outline of how to do it.  We are first, to recognize God for who He is and what He does.  Next, we are to ask for what we need…food, forgiveness and freedom (from evil).  Lastly, we are to once again give God all glory and honor for who He is.

Notice, in verse 11, He tells us to ask for our DAILY bread.  Look a little closer.  If we reverse the two words they become…bread DAILY.  I don’t think this is a mistake, nor would it be out of line to look at the words in this way.  God wants us to ‘pray without ceasing’, asking Him, talking to Him, giving Him credit every hour of every day, day after day.

Let’s take a look at verse 12.  The word debts can be transliterated sins.  Let’s think this through.  Here’s another verse that when reversed adds  more understanding.  What if we say it like this.  “As (in the same way) I forgive others, Father, forgive me.”  Can you imagine the change in our hearts if we thought about that when we say forgive me.  I don’t want to forgive the cruelty shown me by a church leader, but I expect You to forgive me anyway.  I’m not going to forgive the abuses of my childhood, but I expect You to forgive me anything.  I know in my heart that God has forgiven me completely but His expectation is that I will forgive all the hurts, wrongs, stabs in the back…just like He does. 

In the verses following this prayer I’ll paraphrase what He is saying:  Those who forgive will be forgiven by Me.  Those who don’t, won’t.  Those are pretty powerful words for those of us who believe.  Jesus was making a point that He wouldn’t have had to make if we were to remember what He said about forgiving…basically- JUST DO IT!  It will be the most difficult thing I’ve ever done, but, I really don’t want to have to stand before a disappointed Father and explain why I chose not to forgive.  Not gonna happen.

Heavenly Father, Savior, Forgiver of my sins, teach me to forgive and not hold grudges.  Help me to let go of things others have said and done and let You handle the situation.  When I am asked to forgive just let me do it.  Let my life be an example of forgiveness for those around me.  Teach me Your ways, Lord.  Make it so!

Forgiving Others

Asking For Forgiveness
Do we have the right to be unforgiving?  Can we pick and choose who to forgive based on their perceived or actual offense?  The obvious answer for the believer is no, yet isn’t that what we do? Jesus had an answer for these questions.  He placed it at the end of what we call The Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6.  He very clearly says you will be forgiven by the Father if you forgive those who sin against you.  He adds you will not be forgiven by the Father if you refuse to forgive others.  So in the very words of Jesus we have no choice if we want to be forgiven by the Father.  (Well actually, we have a choice but if we want the ultimate reward of forgiveness…)

In the story of Ruth we discover that when she returned from Moab she was once again received as a member of the community.  Isn’t that interesting since God had  commanded the Israelites to have nothing to do with the Moabites (Deut. 23:3-6).  There is certainly a hidden story of forgiveness here.  Ruth and Naomi could have been rejected, ostracized, and asked to leave the community, but that didn’t happen.  Instead, a leading member of the community (Bethlehem) married Ruth (the Moabitess) and from that union came Salmon who fathered Jesse who fathered David…Even though God had clearly defined the rules for inhabiting with or aiding the Moabites He chose an obvious rule breaker (Boaz) to continue the family line toward Jesus.   He already knew Jesus’ purpose (to seek and save the lost) and planted both the lost and the Redeemed (His chosen people, Israel)  in it.

He Is Head Over Heals In Love With Us

I’ve recently been giving a lot of thought to God’s love for us.  It must be something He wants me to do because I’ve seen books, reading articles, and listening to other Christians expound on the subject.  Why do I (we) think He can’t possibly mean me (us), even though He assures me (us) repeatedly in His Word.
In Genesis 1:27 we are told that we are created in His image.  Men and women look like God.  Think about it.  Don’t we all sometimes want to look like someone else?  Well, how about God.  Rather than comparing ourselves to others how about comparing ourselves to the One who loved us so much He gave His Son for us.

In Psalms 139:14 the writer is giving praise because he is aware of God’s love through being ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’.  He is in awe of the One who cares more about our well-being than anything else.God protects and sustains us from the time we are born until we have many gray hairs.  It’s truly something He wants to do. Don’t we want to protect and sustain those we love?  Of course we do.  It’s God’s love for us showing through us. (Isaiah 46:4)

Siescape-fetus

Siescape-fetus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Let’s look at the book of Hosea.  The cycle is repeated over and over.  Hosea marries Gomer, they have a child, she cheats on him and has two more, he continues to forgive her and take her back.  So like God’s love for us; we sin, He saves us, we sin, He forgives, and the cycle goes on and on and on…

The Painting entitled "Jesus Blessing the...

The Painting entitled “Jesus Blessing the Children” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

John 1:12 says when we receive Him, believe in Him, and trust Him because of His name He makes us His children.  Don’t we make the choice from the moment of conception to love our children even when they are sometimes unlovable?  God does too.We are God’s chosen and dearly loved.  Like all who love others He has expectations for us.  We are to show compassion, kindness, and forgiveness (see Colossians 3:12-14 for the list).  Over all we are to wear a cloak of love.  A Japanese translation says it like this, “Love binds everything together in perfect harmony.”
He wants to love us.  Let Him!
Ah, Lord God, my King, my Shelter, my One and Only I do not deserve to be loved by You, yet You do!  You see my insides and my ‘out-sides’, You know my strongholds, my sins, my every part, yet You still love me.  Oh, Lord, help me to be loving to others, help me to love like You do, with compassion, kindness, and without thought to what it will ‘cost’ me.  What a Mighty God You are.     Make it so!