The trip from Perth to LA is long. Leaving behind the precious little tear filled eyes of those grandkids is never easy - never mind a pregnant daughter which adds weight to the final hugs and kisses.
This trip down under was particularly weighty. Meandering through the 3 centers of Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth restored in us the clear sense that the Father still has a role for us in the land of the 'diggers'. We have been going there since October 1990. Oz is buried deeply in our hearts.
Coming home always takes a few days to find our land legs. The sheer flight recovery alone takes a few days. Getting out on the road to run again is simply imperative to rediscover the new day time line, as well as wrestle off the extra pounds we accrued from people's generosity as well as the Ozzie treats - not just TimTams... oh my weakness, the Ozzie 1 meter licorice rolls - they kick my butt!
Then back to my daily conversations with my heavenly Father. These early morning musts are such a gift to a spent soul after so much ministry and love exchange.
This morning I found myself digging back into Matthew. And to crown it all - Matthew 7 to be specific. Reading this chapter through the lenses of the gospel and the grace lace, I found myself stirred by this most noble text.
It is amazing how some dismiss these teachings of Jesus as being of the old order of things as if Jesus could ever teach anything that was not empowering, liberating, transforming. This whole chapter is profoundly grace soaked. It is a most simple mirror to gage our true spiritual measure - not one fashioned by passing fads or even false prophets.
These texts are true reflections:
"First take the log out of your own eye and then you will clearly see to take the speck out of your brother's eye..."
"For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life and those who find it are few..."
"So every healthy tree cannot bear good fruit nor can a a diseased tree bear good fruit..."
"... many will say to me: 'Lord, Lord did we not prophecy in your name and cast to demons in your name and do many mighty works in your name?' And then I will declare to them. 'I never knew you, depart from me you workers of lawlessness.' "
Where does grace fit into this? Simply grace empowers us to say 'no' to sin and all forms of ungodliness.... to find the log in our eye first. Grace is the most power evidence of the Father at work in us - the true evidence of humility.
Grace finds great joy in the unchartered adventures of the narrow gate - the journey where the Father's good pleasure is our highest call. Grace gifts us with health to produce good fruit. The easiest way to discern someone's grace evidence is to peep over their shoulder. Good fruit speaks of healthy trees.
Grace walks easily in the ways of the Father. Lawlessness is the evidence of the father of lies. He butchers, bleeds and breaks the great God story to self promote his brand of "spirituality". Prophecy, miracles and mighty works are not evidence of divine endorsement. Only fruit of doing the will of my Father is the lasting story.
I love grace, it is the ongoing evidence of a life under gospel transformation. It does not justify sin as true freedom, nor is it dismissive of glorious rich biblical texts. It is the very life empowerment offered through the work of the Spirit out of the truth of the text who is Jesus himself.