Habitat for Humanity house, encouragement, pasta, and ripasso

Let’s hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, because the one who made the promises is reliable. And let us consider each other carefully for the purpose of sparking love and good deeds. Don’t stop meeting together with other believers, which some people have gotten into the habit of doing. Instead, encourage each other, especially as you see the day drawing near. – Hebrews 10:23-25

invitation to enthusiasm

invitation to enthusiasm Sunday morning

One way to head off the potential for those tiresome “Monday Morning Blues” is to focus on uplifting stories. Today’s post promises to be full with good news.

Yesterday at WFPC, Rebekah preached about “encouragement.” Well, with the “rafters” still ringing with the noise of enthusiasm and praise during VBS, it wasn’t difficult to feel encouraged from the moment a representative group of our youngest disciples sang us in to worship.

Encouragement, Rebekah pointed out, is a bedrock spiritual principle in a faith community where we own a common commitment to discipleship; not only being disciples, but making disciples. Fact is, if we’re not encouraging one another in the faith, and if we’re not inviting others into faith, then we’re not really disciples at all.

Rebekah praying with homeowner Mary Harris

Rebekah praying with homeowner Mary Harris

COMMUNITY: My next item is Saturday morning’s Habitat for Humanity home dedication (but it’s really the same story). Our church is a key player in the Wake Forest coalition and Rebekah used the story to anchor her message Sunday morning.

The bottom line here – and you can read more (along with pictures) in my Wake Forest Today column “Wake Forest Habitat House Builds Community” – is how such a shared experience leaves everyone involved feeling encouraged. And – especially in terms of social justice – real reconciliation actually takes acts of courage.

Here’s how I concluded my column: “The little house on Juniper Street was full with the fragrance of love. It’s all very well to say we’re color blind, or to believe in our heart that all people are equal. But it’s something else entirely to build a house together, to work for the common good of the community because we all need each other, and to hold hands around the circle because in some way we are all broken, we are all culpable, and in the final analysis we have to stand together if we’re going to stand for anything at all. (read more)

Alicia and Andrew serving

Alicia and Andrew serving

FEASTING: Finally, Andrew and Alicia collaborated with me in the kitchen Saturday evening to produce a superb and authentic Italian feast.

I made fresh pasta and from-scratch buttermilk biscuits; Alicia put together a wonderful salad; Andrew created an Italian vegetable sauce for the pasta that was simply amazing. They – of course – went a little overboard by finding – and grating – the best parmesan cheese, and also tracking down a wine so far out of my league I hadn’t heard of it before.

All three vignettes have this thread of commonality. The ministry of encouraging one another is a critical piece of what it means to live a life of discipleship. If we are going to follow Jesus, then we absolutely must be in the business of encouragement.

Encouragement is not just a spiritual gift – it’s a discipleship necessity  DEREK

enjoy more photos from the Habitat dedication and the wonderful Italian feast:

there’s no greater power than the power of our God #VBS

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somewhere around 10,000 kids (best guess!) listen to Ms. Lisa talk about God at WFPC VBS!

Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Matthew 22:37-40

There’s No Greater Power!

Ok, good friends and “followers,” here is my – measured – response to this weekend’s over-the-top “let’s blow up social media with drama” hoopla.

For help with this, I have gone to the always open-hearted, full of love for Jesus, never judgmental, what-you-see-is-what-you-get kids who flooded Vacation Bible School at our church this past week.

even the pastors (well, Rebekah) are waving their hands!

even the pastors (well, Rebekah) are waving their hands!

Ready? Here goes. cue the TOP VOLUME SINGING… “THERE’S NO GREATER POWER THAN THE POWER OF OUR GOD!” That’s what the kids sang – at the capacity of their more than ample lungs no less. Then they followed up with several different, but closely related versions of the same idea. “God is the strongest.” “My God has all the power.” “We have nothing to fear with God on our side.” “With God we can overcome any obstacle.” “With God we can climb any mountain.” That kind of thing.

And, you know what? the voices of 150 kids, singing their little hearts out, makes me take note of how easily – and cluelessly – I tend to try to replace God with my own power. “I can do it myself.” “Let me fix that for God.” “If we don’t make this go away then God is going down in a ball of flames.”

Really? God is going to flame out? I don’t think so.

GOD HAS THIS!

These wonderful children have their focus in exactly the right place. “THERE’S NO GREATER POWER THAN THE POWER OF OUR GOD!” God is sufficient. God is so much greater than our limited perspectives! God can handle the details. Don’t sweat it, people! Our job is to praise God, to invite others into relationship with Jesus, and to hold the door open for our brothers and sisters.

Our job is:

  • to praise God,
  • to invite others into relationship with Jesus,
  • and to hold the door open for our brothers and sisters.

This I know: I’ve been wrong a lot in my life. I’ll likely be wrong again. But there’s one thing I’m 100% right about, and the Wake Forest Presbyterian Church VBS kids agree with me right down the line: “THERE’S NO GREATER POWER THAN THE POWER OF OUR GOD!”

kids enthralled with the message of power and love

kids enthralled with God’s message of power and love

INVITATION!: I’m inviting anyone and everyone I know – and those of you I don’t know – into a life-affirming, transformational, encouraging, soul-healing walk with God. A right-now relationship with Jesus.

Are you confused? Are you completely confident? Are you open-hearted? Are you kind of closed? Are you gay? Are you straight? Are you liberal? Are you conservative? Are you young? Are you pushing middle age – or beyond? Well I don’t care who you are, and what your life circumstance is. Regardless of any of that, you need to know my friend Jesus. Jesus will lead you, Jesus will guide you, and Jesus will bring you home.

That’s right, I said “home.” Jesus is going to bring God’s children home. And – I have it from a reliable source – there really is no greater power than the power of our God.

Seriously, folks, God has got this. Now, does God have you?

– DEREK

the real meaning of family #blessed

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How very good and pleasant it is
    when kindred live together in unity!
 It is like the precious oil on the head,
    running down upon the beard,
on the beard of Aaron,
    running down over the collar of his robes.
 It is like the dew of Hermon,
    which falls on the mountains of Zion.
For there the Lord ordained his blessing,
    life forevermore. – Psalm 133

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The growing “Rebekah-Derek” family tree

Friday, Rebekah and I enjoyed a beautiful day at Naomi and Craig’s home in Richmond, where we celebrated our son Andrew’s 33rd birthday, along our granddaughter Beks’ second.

The primary thought in my mind was this: “Rebekah and I have been married almost 36 years. Look what wondrous things have happened!”

And so today I am so very grateful, because before any time at all has passed, Andrew and Alicia will be in Central Asia, and this moment, this particular instance where the time that we can measure laps up against the eternity we can’t, will simply be a memory. And I am thankful that we have been able to capture a few photographs that help to tell the story.

Naomi and David

Naomi and David

BEYOND CAPACITY: When the story involves grandchildren, it involves more joy and excitement than we have the capacity to process, more fun than our bodies are equipped (any more) to sustain, more raw emotion – including tears – than we are every adequately prepared for, and more love than could be contained in all the oceans.

Beks turned two, so she proudly sported her “birthday tutu” all day long. David gave a clinic in trains. Naomi and Craig pulled off hosting with their usual grace and generosity. Andrew and Alicia’s presence served to remind us of how blessed we are as parents. Rebekah and I played the part of enjoying-the-moment grandparents.

In addition, Rebekah’s sister Rachel showed up, along with my brother-in-law Tom, and two of our nieces and nephews from Jacksonville. Finally, to round out the party, Andrew’s good friend Anthony rolled in.

IMG_1040The measure of success is not in how much stuff we have, or of how famous we become, but what we do with the blessings that have been entrusted to our care. Just look at what God has place in our trust!

Grateful; always – DEREK

(enjoy this gallery of images from Friday in Richmond)

we’re all “heirs according to the promise” – but we all fall short

We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Romans 3:22-23

"All are welcome at this table"

“All are welcome at this table”

Today’s post is a classic “two-fer.” I have some more to share on our ongoing race conversation, plus there’s a joy bubbling over that I can’t keep to myself.

First, and this – I believe – is really important, I’d like to recommend Rebekah’s message from this past Sunday morning at WFPC. Here’s the link: “Heirs According to the Promise.” For those who don’t know, Rebekah serves as senior pastor at Wake Forest Presbyterian Church here in North Carolina.

Rebekah nests the sermon in the context of the Bible study she was leading, the exact same time the Charleston shootings took place. She shares some remarkable stories about her family running afoul of segregationists in rural Georgia, points to the teachings of Paul vis-a-vis equality, and echoes the crystal clear invitation from Jesus to walk in the light and to live in love.

OUR GUILT TOO: Then, and this is where she specifically challenged me, she warned against our tendency to play comparison games, to point to “those other people, the ones who are really racist,” to thank God that we’re “not as bad as them,” and to remain stuck, in our smugness, unwilling to move forward because we don’t believe this conversation has anything to do with us.

She didn’t say “smugness.” That’s my word about myself.

But she did say that we will never be able to move forward if we believe that we are not complicit, and she did say that we need to understand we all are guilty of the sin of racism.

“Look around,” she said, “if we believe that, ‘there is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female,‘ and that, ‘we are all one in Christ Jesus;‘ (Galatians 3:26-29) then who is missing? Who is missing here today?” – Heirs According to the Promise.

Naomi and Andrew!

Naomi and Andrew! (images by Naomi Campbell)

JOY BEYOND JOY: Then, and this is just a short share from my heart, our son Andrew, along with our daughter-in-love Alicia, is here for a few weeks. Yesterday they drove up to Richmond to spend a couple of days with Naomi, Craig, and our grandchildren.

Andrew and Naomi didn’t get along growing up. And, to be honest, Rebekah and I couldn’t even imagine the vaguest possibility of any improvement. Ever.

Our children have, however, not only turned into the most amazing, talented, loving young-adults we could have prayed for (and we did), but they married the most awesome, gifted, loving young adults we could have prayed for (and we did). Additionally, and this is the point of part-deux of this post, our children love each other, respect one another, and they get along beautifully.

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Naomi, Craig, David, Alicia, Andrew, Beks

Photographs like these simply make my heart sing. I am so grateful. What else can I say, other than, “Thank you, God.”

– DEREK 

you don’t start a war in a church – you launch a movement

 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. – John 14:27

AME

Emanuel AME – image from rawstory.com

Let me offer just one more thought in response to last Wednesday’s Charleston shootings; and this may be the most profound.

The young man who perpetrated the atrocity is reported to have said that he intended to “start a race war.” Interestingly, ironically, poetically, what he may have achieved is the exact opposite. You see, you don’t start a war in a church, what you start in church is a movement, and this may be the beginnings of a huge step toward peace.

The backlash (rather than war) has been love, reconciliation, compassion, clearing the air, and social-political initiatives designed to remove symbols of hate and disunity from places where they appear to have the sanction of government.

This is what happens when you try to start a war in a church.

Because the kind of peace, the quality of peace, that emanates from a commitment to following Jesus, is nothing like the barbed, defensive, arm’s-length stalemate that the world negotiates under the shadow and threat of its armies. Faith in Jesus promises that love will trump fear at every turn.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. – 1 John 4:18

So it appears to me that the plans of the hate-filled terrorist have backfired in an epic fashion. Right now – and please God that it continues – what he has achieved is to ignite a movement toward reconciliation.

Derek Maul

Derek Maul

If you want to start a war, the last place you need to go is to church.

In love, and because of love – DEREK

I Pledge Allegiance to the Flag

 For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you. Galatians 3:26-29

image

image from the web

Generally, this blog is heavily slanted in the direction of  devotion. The title – Life, Gratitude, Faith, & Passion – clearly predisposes me to write about the beautiful path of following Jesus. I only approach topical issues when they fall within that framework.

Last week, my post “An Act of Terror Against the Witness of Love” garnered a lot of attention, both locally and nationally. This week the national conversation has shifted to the Confederate flag, and the way that it has become a symbol representing racism, oppression, inequality, and discrimination.

The symbolic association is a fait accompli – it’s a done deal – in the same way that the Nazi swastika, once simply a version of the Christian cross, morphed into something pointing to hate and repression.

visible from MLK and Interstate - Tampa

visible from MLK and Interstate – Tampa

ARTICLE IN THE TAMPA TRIBUNE: But this is not a new conversation. In 2008, an obnoxiously huge Confederate Flag was raised in Tampa, clearly visible from both the Interstate Highway and MLK Jr. Boulevard. It went up – coincidentally? – when Barrack Obama accepted the nomination for President. Likewise the flag on the capitol grounds in South Carolina was raised in the early 1960’s, as a direct “in your face” endorsement of segregation in response to the Civil Rights movement.

In 2008, on June 18, I published the following column in the Tampa Tribune. You can be sure that I received some mail. I think you will find the words timely for June 23, 2015.

I Pledge Allegiance to the Flag

– DEREK MAUL (Tampa Tribune, 6-18-2008)

In case any of us remain unclear regarding the philosophical underpinnings of the group who raised the colossal Confederate flag at the junction of Interstate 75 and US 92, I’ve copied the following introductory words from the home page of “scv.org”, General Headquarters for the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

“The citizen-soldiers who fought for the Confederacy personified the best qualities of America. The preservation of liberty and freedom was the motivating factor in the South’s decision to fight the Second American Revolution.”

Over the past two weeks a lot has been written regarding the giant flag raised June 3.

The unfurling, initially scheduled for July, was ostensibly moved forward to mark the birthday of Confederate States President Jefferson Davis. I couldn’t help but notice that the timing also coincided with Barack Obama’s victory in his party’s nomination for president.

Under such a flag, a flag easily visible from Martin Luther King Boulevard, an American such as Obama would not have been able to vote, let along run for office. But then again neither would Hillary Clinton.

Fact is, when the Confederate States of America was formed – and adopted its now controversial battle flag – inequality, subjugation and repression defined life for both black men and white women; and the same was true under either flag, the Confederacy or the United States.

But we have come a long way since 1861, and I guess that’s the point of this column. Because while the Stars and Stripes has marched resolutely forward into this Twenty-first Century, the flag the Sons of Confederate Veterans are so proud to fly is firmly rooted in ideals that have failed to improve with the passage of time.

We can romanticize times-gone-by all we like, but the genius of our founding ancestors was to anchor our future in principles that allow for constructive change. The Confederacy did not want any part of such a constitution, and its flag reminds us of how close we came to losing our national soul.

Feb 15, 1985, I stood in front of a federal judge and made the decision to swear allegiance to the flag of the United States of America.

I grew up English, and the U.K. recognizes dual citizenship, but I voluntarily gave up my British passport because – as a citizen of these United States – I disavowed loyalty to any other “prince, potentate or power.”

The Confederate flag is an interesting museum piece, but flying a 50 by 30 foot flag atop a 139 foot flagpole suggests an allegiance, a commitment to what the Sons of Confederate Veterans define as “The best qualities of America.”

The best qualities of America are those that allow for people such as Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John McCain to run for president. The qualities the Confederacy stood for were division and oppression and discrimination; let’s not forget that. The Stars and Stripes is the only flag with the authority to fly over our community.

“For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes.” – DEREK

life rocks! Dads’ Day at Maul-Hall is just another example!

fresh off the plane from Italy

fresh off the plane from Italy

What a great Fathers’ Day! It had all the best features: family, friends, food, celebration, a powerful morning at church, serendipity all over the place. Far too much to cover in one post, but I’ll offer some highlights.

First, Andrew and Alicia flew in to RDU Saturday evening. This was their terminal move from Italy,and the beginning point for new adventures. But how cool for us that the next chapter starts here, celebrating Dads’ Day and what it means to be a family.

Our daughter, Naomi, drove down from Richmond with the grandkids. So, although we really missed her husband, Craig, it was probably the first time in ten years I’ve had both the children home for Fathers’ Day. What a blessing.

with great friends at WFPC - Sylvia and Frank behind me

gathering before worship at WFPC – Sylvia and Frank Beall behind me

The crowd of visitors just kept expanding! By the time I got to the sanctuary for 11:15 worship the list of lunch guests had expanded to 15! We enjoyed an epic celebration of love, faith, family, and friendship. Yes I have a few photographs to go with today’s post, but I was so busy I failed to capture the most important image of all. However, as Rebekah pointed out, “you’re a writer! You can do this without a photograph!”

Our “guests of honor” were Frank and Sylvia Beall, of Pensacola. And the picture I wish I had is of Frank with Rebekah at our current church home, Wake Forest Presbyterian.

REV. FRANK BEALL: Frank served as the senior pastor at Trinity in Pensacola, Rebekah’s first call out of Seminary in 1982. Frank was mentor, colleague, boss, inspiration, friend, and – along with Sylvia – family. He helped to facilitate the kind of environment where Rebekah could follow the lead of the Holy Spirit and thrive. They worked together 14 years, and the ministry they built is not only legendary in Trinity Presbyterian history, but remains foundational to everything that has happened since.

worship at WFPC

worship June 21 at WFPC

It was a good Sunday to visit (well, every Sunday is a good day to visit WFPC!), because Rebekah was at her preaching best, dealing with difficult social issues head on, challenging our church to respond in love and humility, preaching with enough passion, intensity, insight, and love that there were a lot of tears in the sanctuary at both services.

“I wanted to stand up and applaud!” one of the men said to me afterwards. To which I thought, “then why not?” If God is reaching in and grabbing our souls, making some noise about it seems to make good sense!

Other guests included Naomi’s childhood friend, Laura, who is now a Navy chaplain currently attached to a group of Marines; our great friend, Sandee; and – surprise “walk-on’s” from Plant City, the Carters, a huge part of First Presbyterian in Brandon.

Rebekah and Sandee

Rebekah and Sandee

My point, the “so what” of today’s post, is how rich and full life is in the Kingdom of God. Everything, from worship, to lunch, to work, to getting together with friends, is loaded with meaning, and love, and the potential to change the world.

It’s the beginning of another week (see, “TGIM – thank goodness it’s Monday!“); So hold on, who knows what God has in store! – DEREK

Father’s Day (in Christ there is no east or west)

with my dad - image by Naomi Campbell

with my dad – image by Naomi Campbell

See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! 1 John 3:1

Join hands, disciples of the faith, whate’er your race may be! (John Oxenham, 1908)

This is going to be a great Fathers’ Day! Three of our four children will be with us at WFPC, along with both grandchildren, three of our dearest friends from our Pensacola days, and – to top it all off – both of my parents.

I understand that the history of Fathers’ Day is a somewhat contrived phenomenon, something generated by the greetings-card industry. But, as someone who enjoys counting my blessings – and taking special note of them, I like to think that no great idea should go un-celebrated.

Being a dad is an amazing privilege! Being a son is marvelous too. Being able to celebrate both at the same time is spectacular, something beyond wonderful.

family - photo by Naomi Campbell

family – photo by Naomi Campbell

ABBA FATHER: It’s true that there are many useful descriptive words for God, and very few of them are gender specific; but the terms “Father,” and “Mother” remain among my favorites. I think it’s because I remember so clearly the incredible tenderness with which Rebekah and I would hold our children, the complete commitment we invested in the challenge of parenting, the soul-crushing grief we experienced when they were struggling or hurt, the intoxicating gladness that overwhelmed us when they were happy.

When I understand God as father and mother, that’s when I begin to grasp the height, the depth, the breadth, and the length of God’s yearning for relationship with each one of us – for we really are God’s children.

As beloved children of God, we are all one family. God’s spiritual adoption rules out gender distinctions, race, age, political affiliation, philosophy, education, wealth, and any other preference or exclusion we can possibly imagine.

992_racesIt is Fathers’ Day! We are all in the same family. There is no strand of DNA that could ever rule out our relatedness in Christ.

Your brother – DEREK

In Christ there is no East or West, in him no South or North, but one great fellowship of love throughout the whole wide earth.

Join hands, disciples of the faith,
whate’er your race may be!
Who serves my Father as a [child]
is surely kin to me. (John Oxenham, 1908)

“ciao” to Italy; “hello” to the next great adventure…

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand. (Irish Blessing)

Another goodbye dinner for Andrew and Alicia

Another goodbye dinner for Andrew and Alicia

Today our son, Andrew, and our daughter-in-love, Alicia, are on a transatlantic flight from Italy. For Andrew – whose birthday is today – the passage marks the end of a a six-year adventure living first in Tuscany, then in Veneto. For both of them it means saying “Ciao” to the first home of their two-year-old marriage.

Today’s journey is bittersweet, because it also signals the beginning of the next leg of their adventure, a two-year commitment to Tashkent in Uzbekistan. They are truly citizens of the world, committed to loving God’s good creation and serving God’s beautiful children.

So the Irish Blessing, above, is for Andrew and Alicia. But it is also a challenge to all of us to be more intentionally grateful for the gift of life, and the opportunity to enjoy the journey as we move along.

Ponce the tyrannical Tuscan farm-cat at the airport

Ponce the tyrannical Tuscan farm-cat at the airport

In leaving Italy, Andrew and Alicia have gifted the rest of us with a phenomenal resource. They blogged their “100-Day Countdown,” highlighting some of the country’s best sites and sights, foods, resources, destinations, and more. You can find this at PashbyMaul Adventures, the cutting-edge travel blog they will continue to contribute to during their time in the USA and their sojourn to Uzbekistan. Seriously, friends, you don’t want to miss this.

Safe travels, dear children, and we look forward to enjoying a few weeks together this summer.

I’ve quoted the following blessing before, and I’ll do it again; it never grows old:

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace. – Numbers 6:24-26

mercy, grace, and air-conditioning

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy… – Titus 3:4-5a

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see my hair blowing in the fan!

So today it’s our turn to be that house without air-conditioning. And, no, the technician can’t get here till around 6:00 this afternoon. It’s a good thing the temperature here is only slated to get up to 97!

Joking aside, a house without air conditioning in the summer here is brutal. I pray, pray, pray that the problem is a simple fix, and that we’ll be able to enter the weekend (and all those many guests) with a system that actually works.

But it makes me think – once again – about how heavily I rely on the complex infrastructure that lies outside of my moment-to-moment consciousness, undergirding my experience of life. Electricity; a fresh water supply; our refrigerator; groceries that magically appear at the store just when I need them; garbage that disappears every Friday morning; the supply of fuel that runs my car; air conditioning; the people who take responsibility for guarding my freedom, keeping the streets safe, maintaining this way of life I – we all – take so much for granted….

If it was all left up to me, Rebekah and I would be living in a tent somewhere. Maybe I’d figure out how to put together some kind of a log cabin. Eventually I’d manage to secure and filter a water supply. I’d probably learn how to handle fire. But, honestly, left to my own devices I’m close to verging on helpless.

MERCY! This is what Paul is talking about in his letter to Titus. Here’s my paraphrase: When goodness and love showed up, immersing us in light and life, we were rescued from our consummate failure to earn favor with God by our own efforts; it was nothing we could possibly pull off ourselves – but all mercy and grace.

DSC_0365-001We could work, work, work to be perfect – rule-keeping people – filling our life with religious practices designed to elicit the approval of God; or we could simply say “yes” to Jesus, accept the mercy and grace offered in the name of love, and then live transformed lives in grateful response, demonstrating faithfulness to God and love-in-action to God’s children.

In love, and because of love, mercy, and grace – DEREK

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. This Spirit he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is sure. – Titus 3:4-8