How is Grace Commonly Misunderstood?

During an interview a few years ago, the interviewer asked this question: “In what ways is grace most commonly misunderstood today?” This was my answer then. And it is still my answer now. I think the main way grace is misunderstood today is when people confuse it with cheapened law. Let me tell you what I mean…

What is Grace?

The definition I give for grace in my book One-Way Love comes from Paul Zahl: Grace is love that seeks you out when you have nothing to give in return. Grace is love coming at you that has nothing to do with you. Grace is being loved when you are unlovable…. The cliché definition of grace is “unconditional love.”…

When God Breaks You

In my devotional, It is Finished: 365 Days of Good News, we share this amazing testimony from my friend Mike Adams. Mike is a former pastor and co-host/producer of The Grace Cafe Podcast with his wife, Susan. I had made theology my pursuit, my goal, my aim, my identity. And I was pretty good at it too…

Reflections from the Subway

My wife and I see a lot of movies. But our favorite movie of the last year or so is—without question—The Darkest Hour, featuring the Academy Award-winning performance of Gary Oldman playing Winston Churchill. There are so many things about this film that my wife and I love, but there is one scene in particular…

Basin Theology

A Presbyterian pastor told of a conversation with a man in his congregation; “You preachers talk a lot about giving, but when you get right down to it, it all comes down to Basin Theology.” The pastor asked, “Basin Theology, what’s that?” The man replied, “Remember what Pilate did when he had the chance to acquit Jesus?”

Christ is Deeper Still

Normally, the outdoorsy image of choice for spiritual growth is mountain climbing. You know how it is: new Christian at the bottom of the mountain, mature Christian near the top. I want to take you a different way…so let’s go spelunking! Spelunking is cave exploration, and it’s my suggestion for another way…

The Myth of Forgiving Yourself

For more years than I care to remember, a stalker has cast her shadow over my life. She trails me to work, spies on me at home, skulks nearby when I go out on the town. Never is she far away, and never does she slack in her pursuit. She’s a different breed of stalker, however, so reporting her to the police…

Daddy Bill (1918-2018)

It was May 2, 1996, and I was sitting in the U.S. Capitol rotunda with my family. We were eagerly anticipating the ceremony that was getting ready to begin. I had been to Washington DC once before, back in 1985, when I was just 13 years old. This trip was different though. We were there because my grandparents were being…

The Life of an Amputee

A couple of months back, I was driving my daughter Genna (16) to her mom’s. We both love music and we both like to listen to it loud. We always have fun in my car enjoying our favorite songs together. At one point during our two-hour drive, I looked over and Genna was crying. I turned the music down and asked…

I Want a New Drug

Preachers these days are expected to major in “moral renovation.” They are expected to provide a practical “to-do” list, rather than simply announce, “It is finished!” They are expected to do something other than—more than—lift up before their congregation Christ's finished work, preaching a full absolution solely on the basis…

No Strings Attached

My historical hero Martin Luther once said that “To be convinced in our hearts that we have forgiveness of sins and peace with God by grace alone is the hardest thing.” It’s the hardest thing because we are strings attached people living in a strings attached world with other strings attached people. Everything is conditional…

One Way We Avoid Ourselves

One effective way to avoid our own dark shadows is to hide behind the bright and obvious faults of someone else. The following transparent and honest illustration from Dan Allender in his article, Loving Our Enemies: A Look at Why We Wrongly Love Our Enemies (1995), reveals the ways and reasons we unite with one another…

Forgiven People Forgive

Remember Riley Cooper? In 2013, Cooper, a wide receiver for the Philadelphia Eagles, used a racial slur (yes, that racial slur) while claiming that he wanted to fight all of the Black people at a Kenny Chesney concert. Cooper is White. And the entire tirade was caught on video. Cooper apologized—immediately…

God is Always Holding On

In 1738, literary giant Samuel Johnson wrote in his diary: “O Lord, enable me … to redeem the time which I have spent in sloth.” Nineteen years later, he wrote, “Almighty God, enable me to shake off sloth, and to redeem the time misspent in idleness and sin, by a diligent application of the days yet remaining.” Every few years…