The Grace Calling: When Kitchen Table Grace Meets Community

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Grace changes us. That’s just the reality of it. One moment our lives revolve around only us, and the next they revolve around the giver of Grace. This causes a domino effect, and it pushes our grace right out from our hearts and into the lives of those who live around us.

If Jesus sits at your kitchen table, and He changes your heart while you wash your dishes or through other acts of daily faithfulness as mentioned in previous posts, and you readily have welcomed Him into the deepest parts and the everyday parts of your life, He will probably say to you, “feed my sheep”. If He’s asked if you love Him countless times and your answer has repeatedly been yes, then He will ask you to go out and love His flock. Because while Jesus loves us each personally and deeply, His grace reaches beyond the “me” and extends to the “us”. He is all about community. He is all about sitting in that upper room at a table full of believers. He is all about sitting at that table surrounded by a room full of sinners.

John 21:15-17 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you truly love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep”.

If you are an introvert like me, you may love Jesus deeply but struggle with reaching out to actively love other people outside of your inner circle. While I can type my heart out here on this blog, it’s hard for me to do the face to face conversations. Do I love Jesus? Yes. Do I want Him to sit at my kitchen table and do life with me every single day? Yes. Do I eagerly jump into the mission field and invite others to sit at my kitchen table with Jesus? No. Because I am not always a Mary and I live in a Martha world. I build up the excuses about my house not being clean enough for company, or my to do list being too long. But the truth is that it scares me. There is a level of anxiety and of pride when it comes to how I live my life inside of a community. On my own, I am free to have my thoughts and free to live unabashedly in my own way. But when others are involved I am often more concerned about judgment than I am about close personal relationships with Jesus and how He desires me to have close personal relationships with the people who live around me.

I need more grace. But like I said before, grace changes us. And to ask for grace means to be asked to be changed by it.

People are hard. And there is no one who knows this better than Jesus. He came to save the world…and was killed by the very people He reached out to save. He openly preached the way to Heaven and love for our neighbor…but He was denied on the same night that He was betrayed. He was ridiculed by a man who hung next to Him on a tree…even while He was dying for the sins of the whole world. And for a short time, in the three days before He rose from the dead, His closest community fell silent and afraid of the world and what it would do to them. Preach Jesus? That’s hard. Because He was a man and yet God, preached love and yet was hated, stepped down from a heavenly throne to save and yet hung as a criminal on a cross.

The truth is that Jesus loved me, and He loved you, and maybe you and me are the most difficult of sinners. But He came into our lives anyway. And because of that, we can overcome our fears. We can let go of our shame. We can go confidently into a world of people even if they reject us. Because we have a Savior whose Grace has covered us and made us entirely new and labeled us entirely valuable to the King of Kings.

If we love Jesus, then life will be hard. But our rest will be great. If we love Jesus, then we will deal with the hard people and love them, because Jesus loved us when we were the hard people. If we love Jesus, than our introverted selves will seek to love the world in every way we can, because Jesus loved it first. To love Jesus, is to follow Him. And if we are following Him then we will feel the push to become more like Him. Which may mean holding our hands out to reach people outside of our comfort zone.

Grace is inviting more people to the table. It’s inviting more sinners and imperfect people into the upper room. For the message of the Gospel to change the hearts of this whole world, relationship and community are entirely necessary. To preach a God who loved the whole world requires us to love it too…even when it’s hard and we would rather keep to ourselves.

Consider it this week. If Jesus is sitting at your kitchen table, who is He calling you to invite in to sit with you? Who is He is calling you to form the hard and personal relationships with? How is He calling you to help other people to hear His voice and experience His Grace?

This is the hard part of Grace, the part where you give it away. The part where you allow the blanket of Grace which covers you, to cover other people. It is in this pursuit, that we see God’s Grace magnified, not only for us, but for the whole world.

Invite Jesus to come and sit with you at your kitchen table, and you will find that others may want to come and sit with Him too. This is the glory of Jesus, who gave himself up for you, that His relationship with this world would change it and that His relationship with you would change you too.

“Do you love me? Then feed my sheep.”

 

 

 

 

 

A Kitchen Table Kind of Grace: When Grace is Greater Than All Our Sin

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I don’t feel good enough for God. I haven’t done anything big for Him. I have made a lot of mistakes. When I look back at my life, at my decisions, at my heart, there  are many days when I just feel like I am not under God’s Grace, or that I shouldn’t be. I feel as though I don’t deserve it. I have been apathetic to Him on many counts and so naturally, I feel that He should probably be apathetic to me in return. There are days when I talk about life’s difficulties more than I pray about them. There are decisions I make without even pausing a second to wonder what God would think about them. Christ gave His whole life for me, and yet I find it hard at times to sacrifice even a few seconds in my day to be devoted to Him. I am a sinner. And I know it.

But I also know some truths about Jesus that changed my “not good enough” line of thinking right around this morning.

When Christ called us to die to sin, when He called us to rise to new life with Him, He also called us to do life with Him. He didn’t mean for just an hour every Sunday morning, or for just a few seconds in Grace before each meal. He meant that He wants our hearts to beat for Him, our lives to cling to Him, our hands and feet to move with Him.

He wants a relationship with you. He wants to know you personally. He wants to do your everyday life with you. He wants to speak with you and reach into your life even when your not dressed up in your Sunday morning church clothes. He wants to change your life while you’re still in your sweatpants at 10:00 on Saturday morning, and while your hustling out the door for work on Monday morning.

Mark 2:15 “While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and “sinners” were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him.”

Christ didn’t come for the perfect. He came to die for the sinner, and then rose to give new Life and to continue doing life with those same sinners, who now being washed by His Grace, come to sit at His feet. He came to sit down for dinner with people like me who used to fight over household chores. He came to make clean the people who don’t feel good enough for God. He came for the broken people. He came for the people who have messed up, whose lives seem ruined by bad decisions and sin wrecked circumstances. He is the God of the sinner. He is the God of the sick. He is the God of the imperfect. He is the God of your everyday life. He is the God of Grace. And He is in no way apathetic to your struggles or to where you are in life.

Mark 2:17 On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor , but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

He came to find you right where you are. The stories of the people in the New Testament who walked with Jesus, who sat at His feet, who ate dinner with Him and prepared dinner for Him, show us that Jesus does His big life changing work right in our kitchens, right at our dinner tables, right in our everyday walk with the people in our lives. If you feel like your life isn’t good enough for Jesus, just know that His life was great enough for all of us. His Grace for you leads the King of Glory right down from Heaven and right in through your front door.

The church is a body of mixed up, messed up, Grace covered sinners. We are not perfect, we are broken. We have a  perfect God who sees us in our brokenness and yet still chooses to sit among us sinners. He wants to be with you, to give you your daily bread and to cover you with daily grace.

Jesus is not ashamed of your failings. He is not hindered by your sin. Instead, He waits with the cure written on His hands and He knocks at your door.

Ephesians 2:6-9 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.

 

 

 

 

 

Dwelling in the Dishwater: The Basics of Grace


My evenings are usually spent standing at the sink, watching as the water washes clean the blessings of the day ,still holding onto the plates. And every night I remember how I used to hate this. How in our first year of marriage we spent most nights in tears from arguments that stemmed from long days and a culmination of dirty dishes. Who was going to wash them? Why did we let them build up for so long? Why did we rent an apartment without a dishwasher? This was insane, I used to tell myself.

The two apartments that followed our first apartment had dishwashers…I made sure of it. I was not going down that road again. I had major anxiety about the drama that stemmed from the lack of a dishwasher before. And yet…we purchased our first house a year ago, and much to my dismay at the time, there is no dishwasher. And really there is no room for a dishwasher. And the first week I cried. I couldn’t handle it. The kitchen was too small. I kept saying this repeatedly in my head.

I wish I could tell you that I had a sudden revelation about how dish washing could change my world. I wish I could tell you that I realized quickly how absolutely first world and ridiculous my complaints were. I didn’t. None of this came about quickly. But somehow God humbled me through it. Somehow God broke through my mess and taught me to see Him in something as small and seemingly insignificant as hand washing the dishes.

That first week when I cried, I also prayed. I prayed because I felt selfish being so upset about something so trivial. I was scared because I thought that this one extra daily chore was going to break me. I thought maybe God would provide a dishwasher, or a budget for a kitchen remodel. Instead, He provided me with His grace. He calmed my heart.

And this calming went beyond the dishes. It has stretched to almost every layer of my life in recent days. My anxiety over infertility, my worries about not having enough hours in the day, my constant need to control my situations, my overwhelming desire to buy more and more things for the house…they’ve all changed.

I can’t remember the last time that a complaining thought over who was going to do the dishes went through my head. I don’t even find myself asking anymore. Instead I find myself standing there at the sink, voluntarily, happily washing the used dishes in the warm water, and thinking how this is grace. This is the washing of our daily bread. It’s the proof that daily bread was provided. It’s the symbolic picture of my own heart being washed clean. The dirt and the grime, when it builds up in my life, causes me to crumble, much like the sight of a pile of dirty dishes used to do to me. But I have come to love that very sight now. Because washing those dishes clean has brought me closer to Jesus. It has completely humbled me. I fully believe that God has changed me through this.

It turns out that being faithful to God in the smallest things in the world can reveal a grace that’s bigger than you ever thought was possible and that has been waiting for you the whole time. God can mend your brokenness, friends. God can clean up your heart. And He doesn’t do this by throwing each of our souls into a dishwasher, and cleansing us all in the same way. No. He hand washes away our dirt. He takes the time to wipe clean the specks that we may not have been able to see. He takes the time for each one of us. God is so entirely personal. He gives us grace upon grace upon grace.

If you are feeling overwhelmed by this world, if you are feeling muddied by the grind of everyday life, I encourage you to pray for His grace. God is just waiting for you to turn around, to slow down, to see Him. He loves you in an incredibly personal way. I pray that you can see this, and that the world may see it, and that I may see it ever more clearly each day.

Psalm 116: 5-7 “The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. The Lord protects the simplehearted; when I was in great need, he saved me. Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.”