Author: prestonrentz

In Disaster we Create, God Forgives, Loves.

In Disaster we Create, God Forgives, Loves.

It was the kind of phone call we all dread. My wife called and said “I wrecked the car, you’ll have to come and get me”. My heart raced as I asked for more detail. I gathered up my three kids and headed for the crash site. By the grace of God, my wife had only minor injuries.

Before long, there was a fire truck, police and an ambulance. All surrounding two cars that violently met in the middle of the road. The elderly driver of the other car had failed to yield to my wife and hit her head on. His grown daughter was protected on the passenger side by airbags exploding and keeping her from the windshield. The seat belt saved my wife from hitting the steering wheel.

As my wife and I stood on the side of the road watching the professionals clean up, my attention turned to the man who caused the accident.

He was still standing in the middle of the wreckage, by himself. Emergency personal swirled around him while he was the only one stationary. His pregnant daughter had been rushed off to the emergency room to make sure mom and baby were without injury. And there he stood, in the middle of the mess he created. I then felt compelled to go over and speak to him. I didn’t want to, but I’ve learned to listen to that inner voice.


I went up to the man and extended my hand to his. I told him that we were glad he was okay, and that we would be praying for his daughter. I was overwhelmed with compassion for him, and I’m not sure why. His mistake could have cost someone’s life. My wife’s. His daughter’s. His.

There was no discussion of whose fault it was. In those few moments of talking a midst the chaos, it didn’t matter. We were both relieved that no one died. But I sensed a weight on his shoulders as we spoke. He was the one responsible for what happened that day. But criticism and blame was not in my heart.

In the midst of the mess we easily make of our lives, God wants to deliver us from those messes. He doesn’t delight in rubbing our noses in our mistakes. We make our own messes, in our own way, to be sure. None of us are that far from disaster; addictions we don’t intend to give power to. Relationships we never meant to destroy. Mistakes we never meant to make. Lies we tell to cover the ugly truth. Paths we never intended to go down but here we are; unable to turn it around on our own. But it is in our ugly realities that Jesus is present, and wanting to help.

God’s nature, as shown through Christ Jesus, does not minimize what we’ve done or the wreckage we’ve caused. He is about truth after all. But to love and forgive is also a part of truth. The truth of our Savior Christ Jesus, regardless of how we’ve screwed things up.

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Mathew 11:29 NKJV

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Living Beyond Your Potential

Living Beyond Your Potential

I hear things all the time like; “you can reach your potential” or “you have great potential”. And in this world, the attention we receive from others, and value attributed to us, are often based on the potential others see in us. But the love and possibilities we have in Christ Jesus go beyond the world’s value system and its criteria for mere human potential.

In God’s world, he is not interested in us living up to our own potential. Rather, to the possibilities in his limitless nature. Regardless of our limitations and weaknesses, turning to God opens the doors to eternity itself, which has many implications.

Jesus states “with God all things are possible.” Mathew 19:26.

Elaina Victory

Set your heart on what your dreams are, not on whether you have what it takes to accomplish those dreams. God can give you that. He can open any door. Especially to those who pray and act in faith.

Ask yourself what you really want to do with your life, and what his will for your life is, and ask God to open the doors. Give no regard to limitation, which is fear based thinking.

Trust in the advise given in Proverbs; “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; Proverbs 3:5 NIV.

In many ways, the Word of God is trying to tell you and me that in Christ Jesus, anything can be accomplished for good as we trust our dreams and desires to our Lord and Savior. What “impossible” request will you bring to God today?

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Where’s the Outrage? Jesus Knows!

Where’s the Outrage? Jesus Knows!

I first heard the news as I arrived at work one Summer morning. One of our regular customers was killed in a motorcycle accident. He was in his thirties, a husband and father of three. In a moment he was gone from this world.

I worked at a tire shop in a small Texas town in the early 80’s. It was one of those towns where you knew everyone, including most of the customers that frequented our shop. But to be honest, Clark’s death meant little to me. I knew of many car and motorcycle accidents over the years and it was just another unfortunate incident. Sure, I knew who the guy was, we sold him tires and fixed his flats. But we hadn’t exactly shared a beer together. I was there to work and earn a paycheck. So, not a lot of empathy. At least until Mr. Benson walked in.

Apparently, Mr. Benson had just heard the news about Clark’s death upon arriving at our shop. He was noticeably upset. He deliberately paced back and forth in one of our open bays, staring at the floor and making statements out of sheer outrage. He passionately expressed thoughts like; “how could a father of three young children take a chance like that?”. “Those boys will need their father, what will they do now?”. “This was a senseless and unnecessary accident”. “I can’t believe he is dead”. On and on he raged without any attempt to conceal how he felt.

In my early twenties I was hard-hearted and lacking the sensitivities to take in the full tragedy. But his anger got my attention. And just how he so effectively expressed his outrage at the whole tragedy stunned me. He was really mad. It shook me up. I was not used to seeing such raw emotion wrapped up in passion like that.

I will always be grateful to Mr. Benson. I couldn’t see the gravity of Clark’s death without his outrage. Thanks to Mr. Benson, Clark’s death became a loss for me too, for all of us in the shop that day. We were now thinking of his family more and what that loss would mean to his wife and children. The story was now hitting us all on a personal level.

Remembering this story makes me wonder what has happened to healthy sense of outrage in America. An appropriate sense of anger. This world certainly doesn’t lack subject matter, there are plenty of issues to really mad about.

The Holy Word of God calls us to “Be angry, and do not sin.” In our culture however we have put the emphasis on the “do not sin” part while ignoring the “be angry” part. Not a psycho or murderous anger, but a righteous anger at a world that falls deeper into depravity.

Mr. Benson didn’t lash out at those around him. He didn’t lobby congress to outlaw motorcycles. He didn’t demonize everyone who would ride a motorcycle. He didn’t threaten to burn down a motorcycle dealership.  No, he just expressed his anger and didn’t hide it from those around him. That was his gift to all present that day. He made us contemplate the very weight of tragedy, and what that tragedy meant. Only outrage could have accomplished this.

Perhaps the law that allows abortion would be overturned if enough outrage were expressed. Though some has been expressed over the years, we mostly hear contrived moral arguments. Nothing wrong with that, it just doesn’t always pierce the heart.  I wonder how much would change if we had just one passionately indignant leader who could stir hearts along with good old-fashioned reasoning. Instead, religious, political and intellectual arguments are quietly, even stoically made.

If someone in our society expressed themselves with the level of anger and indignation that Jesus did with the money changers in the Temple of God, they might be put in a straight jacket. Or even the outrage Jesus expressed towards the religious leaders of his day.

Anger, even for the right reasons is simply not tolerated in our culture. And this may be the beginning or the impetus for the deepest form of apathy. Which alone may explain why so many of our seemingly insurmountable problems that plague this country never get addressed. Immigration comes to mind. The need to change the tax code. Our National debt, our trade deficit, etc. It seems that those who run our country only know how to argue and to entrench themselves in their own ideals, whether it actually helps the country or not. And usually not.

Maybe Congress would feel more compelled to find a way to make much-needed changes in our country if we the people could somehow channel our outrage appropriately, without violence or harm to neighbor. Because the moment we hurt others or destroy property, we have abandoned the Golden Rule. Even so, maybe they would just turn a deaf ear. Or just maybe they would finally feel compelled to work together and do something.

Anger is the one emotion that is so easily be abused, yet so much-needed. Especially in an increasingly apathetic society. But we would rather have passivity and niceness than effective indignation. Most don’t want to make waves. And somehow we’ve been convinced that we should conceal our stronger emotions.

No one in the tire shop that day questioned Mr. Benson’s anger, his words or his tirade. It was remarkably appropriate. Almost like poetry in the form of outrage. Beautifully displayed outrage. Much needed outrage.

What do you think? Do you believe harmless anger and indignation has a place in our society today?

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Ageing Backwards

Ageing Backwards

In the 2008 film; The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, the idea of ageing backwards was played out in a creative but fictional drama. Brad Pitt’s character was born as an old man. He ages backwards throughout his life until he eventually dies as an infant. This was the first time I remember contemplating the idea of actually ageing backwards.

The fitness industry also speaks of age-reversal through nutrition, supplements and strength training. But neither Hollywood or the fitness industry invented the concept of ageing backwards, God did. And for the Christian, this is real.

“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Jesus from Mathew 18:3 (NRSV).

We were once children and now we’ve grown up. We’ve left childish things behind and have matured into productive adults. Why go back? What part of us must return to a child like state?

While the world concerns itself with physical age reversal or the avoidance of physical death all together, God’s concerns lies in the renewal of our spirit. As Paul of the New Testament states;

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.”2 Corinthians 4:16 NIV

This is not mere theory or religious talk, it’s the power of God offered to those in Christ Jesus. A hint to age-reversal within our spirit. Because for those of us who are adults and don’t yet totally depend on God, he’s inviting us to age backwards; to return to a childlike state and rely on our God for everything, the way we used to rely on our parents or guardians when we were young.


But I’ve had trouble deciphering just what Jesus meant here. If we’re to become childlike again, would not immaturity and fear go along with that?

The first thing I notice about children is how tender-hearted and innocent they are. But one crying fit or gross display of me-ism and it doesn’t take long to notice how corrupt they are in their spirit. Thus the need for redemption. As beautiful as children are, they are immature and easily misled. So we need to grow up, but not in the way the world would have us.

When the love of Christ gets a hold of us, it’s a tough ride at times. There’s both joy and pain along the way. Because while God is taking us forward, he’s also taking us back. This friction creates suffering. But the Lord reminds us;

“Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:4 NIV

The world cannot create this kind of person who is mature but childlike.  A grown-up but happy and grateful. An adult who is filled with life and joy as if they didn’t have a care in the world. It’s a paradox to human reasoning. But this is the Christian fully alive.

God must have his way with us if we’re to know genuine redemption. Absolute renewal. A true re-birth. But it sometimes feels like nothing more than the drudgery of day-to-day struggle. We experience the trials and temptations as if all depends on our own success to survive. But it doesn’t. As the Word says;

“being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6 NIV

We have our part; The Word again reminds us;

“For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.” 1 Thessalonians 4:7 NIV

This kind of life is crucial to one who would know the joy of ageing backwards. But what God is actually offering in this life is beyond mere age reversal, even of the spiritual kind. Listen to the words from Proverbs;

In the way of righteousness there is life; along that path is immortality. Proverbs 12:28 NIV

We experience an age-reversal in spirit because we’re actually living from the immortal spirit of Christ Jesus. Yes, as God encourages us, delivers us from our troubles, strengthens us when we’re down in spirit and lifts us to his love and joy, we’re actually getting a taste of the real fountain of youth; the immortal spirit of our Savior Christ Jesus. What greater gift could one receive in this world? Don’t waste it!!

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Overcoming Fear by Trusting in God’s Love

Overcoming Fear by Trusting in God’s Love

Fear gets a bad rap. And it should. Fear has a way of stifling our efforts for a full life. Therefore, fear rarely gets good press. But fear actually plays a key role in a life that truly abounds in the grace of God.

Years ago I had to face a daunting fact; I feared just about everything except God. I feared the loss of income, that I wouldn’t find the right person to marry and that Hollywood would never again produce a film worth watching. You name it, I feared it. But my problem wasn’t that I had fear as much as I didn’t take those fears to God.

I eventually understood that the Word of God speaks to our fears. It seems to suggest that we don’t simply overcome fear, but that we redirect our fear to God personally.


Fear plagues us humans. But to fear God is slightly different; it’s more like concerning ourselves primarily with what God thinks. What his will is. What he cares about. And trusting him with every need. EVERY NEED!

As we learn to turn to the God of love for every desire, fear and need, our lives will begin to abound in his amazing love. Really Abound. God responds best to those who put their complete trust in him.

“The fear of the Lord leads to life” Proverbs 19:23 NIV

As I learned to do this, all my petty fears began to wane. My life took on clarity, purpose, hope. Especially as I began to look more and more to the love of God. But don’t worry, as the reliable Word of God says; “perfect love drives out fear” 1 John 4:18 NIV.

With great generosity and kindness, God doesn’t insist that our fears disappear overnight. Or that we even abandon them up front. He just wants us to turn to him with those fears, and he’ll take it from there.

Yes, we began our walk by taking all our fears, cares and longings to God. Not by trying to overcome them on our own. And he’ll eventually turn those fears and concerns into a desire to completely trust in him and his love. And what a great desire that is.

As we grow in our love for the person of God as revealed through his son Christ Jesus, we’ll naturally leave fear behind. So don’t make “overcoming fear” your objective, focus rather on God’s love and give all to him. Fear simply can’t hold up under those circumstances. Fear in fact can’t exist in the presence of God.

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Overcoming the Racial Divide

Overcoming the Racial Divide

The airways have been riddled with race talk in recent months. It’s troubling to endure a dialog that’s more like arguing than constructive discussion. With the Trayvon Martin case demanding center stage and more recent cases in the news, I continue to be saddened by our lack of progress concerning race relations.

I was born in 1961, right in the middle of the Civil Rights Movement. I remember my grandfather using the N word with no shame. Thankfully his son, my dad, did not continue the disgusting habit. Even as a child I sensed its hateful nature and rejected its demeaning tone. I grew up liking African-Americans and have been acquainted with a few along the way. But when I look country-wide, I realize we have a ways to go.

In church on a recent Sunday, my wife and I attended the overflow room, which only holds about 125 people. As the praise music began and church goers poured in looking for seats, I noticed a larger number of African-Americans than usual coming in. One family had 8 members. One Black gentleman sat next to me and there were at least 3 other Black couples.

As we sat through the service, I couldn’t help but think of the History of the Black American, especially in the USA. How they’ve been treated in the past, ongoing challenges and the current debate that dominates the airways. My heart swelled with all kinds of emotions; sadness, compassion and even honor as we sat in church together.

When it came time for us to stand up and shake hands with those sitting around us, I shook the hands of a Black gentleman beside me and one in front with a vigor that was mutual. It was as if we both knew that we were there for a higher cause, a common cause that rose above the pettiness of racial conflict.

The room included many Hispanics as well as we seemed to exemplify the melting pot America was supposed to become for all people, all races. The color of our skin is not supposed to matter, and it didn’t matter, except to demonstrate the variety of God and his creation so wonderfully on display in that little room. The love, grace and power of God had simply settled the argument with his presence alone.

I walked out of church that day reminded that Christ Jesus is the answer to our prejudice, our discrimination of others and our immature love for only those who are just like ourselves.

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Coffee with a King

Coffee with a King

If you think the idea of sitting down with God and having a cup of coffee sounds trite, or insanely informal, you may be right. Many assume some level of formality is synonymous with respect for God. Or even being accepted by God.

The world Jesus came into had a similar view, except more extreme. The idea of a personal connection with God in times of antiquity was mocked and considered blasphemous. In fact, the Jews of history had a formal relationship with God to the degree that some would not even speak Gods name out loud, it was considered disrespectful, even contemptuous. Some would even leave one letter out when writing his name out of an extreme sense of reverence.

It was in this state of mind that Jesus found humanity, especially the religious. But Jesus’ interaction with people contradicted this god-view with nearly actions alone. And surprisingly, with no demand for respect. Profoundly contrary to what people were used to, and for the first time in history, folks were faced with the idea of God as a personal friend.

Jesus dined with Gentiles, touched the diseased without care for his own health and fraternized with woman, all of which were forbidden for a Jew, all the more a Rabbi. Perhaps Jesus ate “unclean” food and maybe even had a cup of coffee to top off the meal. Who knows?

His point wasn’t to merely encourage Jews to try to hang out with a good ole Gentile now and then. To the contrary; his aim seemed to be to challenge our view of the way God sees us, mere humans. And not just through the lens of religion.

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45 NIV

With Jesus’ unpredictable approach, God became familiar to the simple sinner, the non-religious, even the unclean gentile. Something us moderns take for granted. With no regard for societal rules, Jewish tradition, religious piety or ceremony; Jesus simply wanted to sit down and have a meal with his children, and maybe a cup of joe.

When I write about having a cup of coffee with God, I don’t mean that I brew an extra cup for Jesus, just in case you were wondering. But the imagery of having coffee with our Creator reminds me of the kind of friendship God wants with you and me; a real one. With our guard down and the gates of our hearts open.

This is what having a cup of coffee or tea with a friend has come to mean in our culture; opening up, being ourselves and connecting. This is fertile ground for any honest and healthy friendship.


But there’s an old saying; “familiarity breeds contempt”. So, it stirs the question; are we in danger of being contemptuous before God in such a familiar relationship? Well, yes. God has extended his hand of friendship from a holy place. So, the appropriate response needs to be understood.

A call to grace is a call into fellowship with our God. And that call into fellowship is a call to a holy life. We must seek to purify ourselves as we walk with Christ over time. Many treat grace as if it’s a license to frolic in our sin. “After all, grace will cover it” some might reason. While God loves and accepts us in our flawed state, he now begins the work of cleaning up our hearts. And to love God means to let him do this.

Maintaining both a common friendship and an appropriate respect for God is found in two veins; sharing the love with others that we know with God, and, maintaining a pure heart as we keep ourselves unstained from the world. In other words, humbly passing on the love and grace he’s given us, but also obeying God.

“This is love for God: to obey his commands.” 1 John 5:3 NIV

Therefore, we must make sure the life we live does not mock the very grace he calls us to. And this potential for contempt for God is expressed in a warning concerning the practice of communion;

“So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 11:27 NIV

Verse 29 “For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves.”

I’m no Theologian, but it’s my opinion that if we are living a life that is contrary to our call to grace and purity while seeking the presence and favor of God, we’ll bring judgment on ourselves. Our walk matters to God, even under the umbrella of grace. Or, should I say, all the more under the umbrella of grace.

So, if your intention is not to exploit the kindness of God, and you want a genuine connection with our generous and loving God, then relax and consider your time with God over a good cup of Jerusalem Java or Bethlehem Brew.

You must bring a sincere heart and enjoy a close and authentic relationship with your Savior, without the phony formality. And if you struggle with just how this very personal connection should go, think back to how easily he connected with people of his day; they just hung out, and ate, and drank. Remember what Christ said about himself;

“For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Mathew 11:30 NIV

Next time you want to connect with God like an old friend, or you want to connect for the first time, act like you would if you were meeting a good friend for coffee. Open up, be yourself and let your heart flow. “Just spill it” as a friend used to say.

And if it helps to be clutching a hot cup of coffee or tea, I don’t think God will mind. If God didn’t mind the company of unscrupulous business men, the contagiously diseased and those who sell their bodies for money, I don’t think he’ll mind if you have an actual cup of coffee in tow. Just make sure it’s fresh brewed, you’re having coffee with a King.

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Will Judas Iscariot be Forgiven?

Will Judas Iscariot be Forgiven?

This question has come up many times over the three decades I’ve been involved in Christianity, and the answers aren’t easy. Some say that the grace of God will cover Judas’ actions because Jesus died for all sins. Others argue that because he helped bring about the death and resurrection of Christ, a role someone had to play, that he should be forgiven. But to get to the bottom of this mystery, we have to ask a different question; Did Judas Iscariot commit the unpardonable sin?

Jesus points out that there is a sin which will not be forgiven;

“Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come. Mathew 12:31-32 NKJV

I cannot judge whether Judas committed blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. But if Jesus’ words about Judas are any indication of his destiny, it’s not encouraging;

“The Son of Man indeed goes just as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.” Mathew 26:24 NKJV


That doesn’t sound to me like grace will be coming his way. But I hope I’m wrong. “But what if God changes his mind and gives him a break anyway?” I can hear some asking. But to answer this question, we have to understand something about the God of the Bible. While he is filled with love, grace and generosity; God will not be made a liar. In no way will his very own Word contradict him.

“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.” Galatians 6:7 NKJV

So if Judas did, and that’s a big “if”, commit the unpardonable sin, I don’t believe God will compromise his very own spoken Word.

Some say that Judas expressed regret by returning the 30 pieces of silver and hanging himself. Problem here is that the Word speaks of two different types of regret or sorrow;

“For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.” 2 Corinthians 7:10 NKJV

Does this prove Judas knew what he was doing to the point that he committed the unpardonable sin? No! I’m just letting the Bible speak for itself. Which usually keeps me out of trouble.

My hope is that Judas is not guilty of the unpardonable sin, as I’m sure it’s yours. But all of this talk about forgiveness reminds me of something amazing about our God; the latitude of grace to which he extends. He’s willing to forgive just about everything man can throw at him except the unspeakable sin of blasphemy, of which I suppose most of us aren’t even capable.

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Jesus’ Name Still Has Power

Jesus’ Name Still Has Power

In February of 2010, a store owner in Frisco Texas was about to be robbed at gun-point by a hooded intruder. The owner pointed her finger at him and said; “In the name of Jesus, you get out of my store. I bind you by the power of the holy spirit.”

What moves me about this story is that the owner embraced courage over fear while under pressure of being held-up. She could have reached out to 911 or a shotgun behind the counter, but she invoked Jesus’ name instead. She could have caved to fear and dropped to her knees at the demands of fear personified. But the owner refused to partner with fear and insisted on tapping into the power of God by calling upon her Savior.

Her brave act also served as a witness to the thief. Maybe it will change him, maybe it won’t. But at least he’s been introduced to the power of God.

Most of us probably won’t have to rebuke a would be robber. Our biggest challenge may be just trusting God with our lives in general. Our addictions. Old habits that won’t die. People we just can’t seem to forgive, or the need to forgive ourselves. Whatever we’re dealing with, calling on the name of Christ Jesus still has all the power we need, especially as we call on him in faith. But for me, there remains a mild fear that I may find myself in the wrong convenient store at the wrong time.

A friend is considering getting a permit to carry a weapon. He is a long time Christian but feels compelled to protect himself and his family. We talked about what it means to trust God with every aspect of our lives. I can understand the temptation to want to look to the gun to protect those you love. But doesn’t our faith equip us with something much more powerful? And if we do carry a weapon, will we turn to God or the gun in a crisis?

There is a lively gun debate going on in our country right now, as you know, but this blog is not about that. I’m simply asking the question; Do we trust God completely with everything, including our personal safety?


As believers, our destiny is in Christ. When or how we leave this world may not be in our hands. So, I’m not sure relying on a weapon or any other form of self protection will change our fate ultimately.

At the same time, I feel that protecting those we love is our job and part of our commitment to them. But where do we draw the line? I would like to hear your thoughts on the matter.

As for the hooded intruder, upon hearing the name of Jesus boldly spoken, the gun-toting assailant appeared stunned and then turned and walked out the door empty-handed, cursing, with his weapon at his side. Love confronted fear, and fear lost.

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A No-Limits Love

A No-Limits Love

In his book What’s So Amazing About Grace, Philip Yancey explains that his goal was not to merely to explain or dissect the meaning of grace, but to convey it. In regards to God’s love for us, I believe the story below accomplishes the same goal.

The story comes from Jim Cymbala, Pastor of the Brooklyn Tabernacle. In his book Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire, Cymbala tells the story of someone many might find tough to Love.

“ I shall never forget Easter Sunday 1992—the day that Roberta Langella gave her dramatic testimony, as I recounted in Chapter 3. A homeless man was standing in the back of the church listening intently.
At the end of the evening meeting, I sat down on the platform, exhausted, as others began to pray with those who had responded to Christ. The organist was playing quietly. I wanted to relax. I was just starting to unwind when I looked up to see this man, with shabby clothing and matted hair, standing in the center aisle about four rows back and waiting for permission to approach me.
I nodded and gave him a weak little wave of the hand. ‘Look how this Easter Sunday is going to end,’ I thought to myself. He’s going to hit me up for money. ‘That happens often in this church. I’m so tired ….’
When he came close, I saw that his two front teeth were missing. But more striking was his odor.—-the mixture of alcohol, sweat, urine and garbage took my breath away. I have been around many street people, but this was the strongest stench I have ever encountered. I instinctively had to turn my head sideways to inhale, then look back in his direction while breathing out.
I asked his name.
“David” he said softly.
“How long have you been homeless, David?”
“Six years.”
“Where did you sleep last night”?
“In an abandoned truck.”
I had heard enough and wanted to get this over quickly.
I reached for the money clip in my pocket.
At that moment David put his finger in front of my face and said “No, you don’t understand—I don’t want your money. I’m going to die out there. I want the Jesus that red-haired girl talked about.”
I hesitated, then closed my eyes. I felt soiled and cheap. Me, a minister of the gospel…I had wanted simply to get rid of him, when he was crying out for the help of Christ I had just preached about. I swallowed hard as God’s love flooded my soul.
David sensed the change in me. He moved toward me and fell on my chest, burying his grimy head against my white shirt and tie. Holding him close, I talked to him about Jesus’ love. These weren’t just words; I felt them. I felt love for this pitiful young man. And that smell…I don’t know how to explain it. It had almost made me sick, but now it became the most beautiful fragrance to me. I reveled in what had been repulsive a moment ago.
The Lord seem to say to me in that instant, Jim, if you and your wife have any value to me, if you have any purpose in my work—it has to do with this odor. This is the smell of the world I died for.”


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