Thursday, March 20, 2008

There’s just something about grace.

We have an awesome God. Yeah, you already know that, but do you ever take a minute to think how wonderful it is to be a member of the Body of Christ? I had the honor of professing my faith through baptism in January with 4 close friends. Looking over pictures from that service is like looking through a family album. I look at us, nervously sharing our testimony or each of us emerging from the water dripping with Christ or even the wider pictures of our family praying with us. I cannot help but smile and thank God for all His grace.
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Marianne, beautiful inside and out, had struggled with “looking for love in all the wrong places.” Searching for fulfillment in a bottle, a man or a shopping spree only ended in hopeless emptiness for her. I know she was nervous that night, but she was determined to humble herself for her Lord. Watching her grow has been incredible. She is devouring the Word and connecting with others. Even more, she is always watchful for ways to give God glory. Telling others, showing coworkers and strangers, what Jesus has done in her life is her greatest joy. Marianne is often bringing friends, even acquaintances to church. She cannot keep her light from shining.
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Then there is my dear brother Ben. He thought he had been a Christian since childhood. But the deception of drugs and alcohol which had begun as a party had soured leaving him miserable and empty. Soon after he got clean, Ben repented and fully submitted his heart and life to Jesus. He has a heart today for Christ and our missing brothers and sisters. Ben hosts a weekly bible study to encourage others to seek God in His Word. His favorite memory of that January evening is standing on the steps of the baptismal pool, soaked and joyful, singing Amazing Grace with his church family.
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Gentle Becky probably would not have claimed that name before meeting Jesus. She came to know Christ through a coworker who invited her to the evening service. He knew she was struggling. She was angry, so angry, and it was choking the life out of her. After meeting Christ, she developed a calm, a faith. She credits Him with helping her to manage her emotions. Since her baptism, she is much more open, confident. She says she feels closer to the church, more a part of it. Becky follows in the footsteps of her friend as she introduces others to Jesus.
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And then there is Terry, my husband. I know how much he has struggled over the years. He had been broken by his own addiction and then the inability to affect significant change despite time in recovery. Watching his heart soften has been a privilege. Terry would be the first to note that he has plenty to learn, but there is a new humility as he has been trying to be more intentional in living and growing to become more like Christ. Working with men struggling with addiction and sharing how his faith is changing him is important to Terry and he often brings friends to the evening service or other small groups where they might encounter Jesus, too.
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As for me, well, I think I had tried every way I could to fix myself. Struggling with addiction and depression, I was suicidal even after some years clean. My husband and I were on the edge of divorce. In fact, church was the last resort. Truthfully, I had “done” church before so I figured it wouldn’t change anything but was a way to stall making a decision. But, God has a sense of humor. Since beginning to follow Christ, my life is completely different. In fact, it is not mine any longer. Reaching back to the missing of our family only makes sense to me after all the grace I have received. I host a weekly small group for non Christian women who are interested in Jesus. At first it was terrifying, but to be honest, this is a grace in itself. The opportunity to start this group presented itself a year ago, but I chickened out. I didn’t know enough, wasn’t good enough. Letting that pass, though, was like a weight on me. I knew immediately that I had missed out on something significant, partnering with God. When He graciously provided me with another chance, I jumped at it.
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On any given Sunday evening, if you come about 6:20, you’ll probably find the 6 of us sitting in a circle on the coffeehouse floor, lifting the church’s meeting to God’s throne. We desire deeply to be used by God, to participate with God in the rescue of others as we have been rescued from pits of despair and spiritual death. We want to live the mission of the church, our church, our family. There’s just something about grace. Once it touches you, you can’t be the same.

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