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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

When Unexpected Illness Intrudes.

Last Saturday when I took my wife Tricia to the ER, Jesus gave me the following verse early in the morning:

"He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD."
Little did I know bad news was fixin' to show up at my doorstep in a few hours. God gave me a heads-up. Hindsight let me realize it. I'm grateful.

The entire week prior I was texting Scriptures on trusting God to Tricia, my kids, and a few others I have committed to. Here was another one one:

"You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the LORD forever for the LORD God is an everlasting rock."
It seems God was laying spiritual groundwork for what we are going through now. He was saying illness was about to forcefully intrude and I must stay focused on trusting him period. He would get us through no matter the outcome.

Tricia and I have been interrupted by illness many times in our life together, whether it was with our kids, our parents, or ourselves. We commented on the number of hospital stays we have had over the years. Each time it happens I'm always reminded of how intrusive they are. Normal life radically interrupts. The focus switches from getting on with things to stopping and getting better.

Here are some patterns I notice:

1. Because we have been self-employed for most of our lives together, when illness interrupts, work is interrupted and we experience financial stress sometimes lasting well beyond the actual illness. Chaos intrudes.

2. Fear always tries to settle in and make things worse. Worry wants to take hold and drag us into despair or doubting God's attention, power to deliver, and goodness toward us.

3. I really hate watching those I love suffer. I passionately death in all its forms. I wish I could take their suffering and bear it for them.

4. The rhythms of illness, care-giving and recuperation take center stage until healing is complete. There's no getting around it. You just have to get through. Waiting seems to be a common feature with illness: waiting for news of what is happening and what needs to be done to get better. Waiting for test results. Waiting for docs to weigh-in. Waiting for healing and recovery to take place.

5. The depth of my love for the people God grants me to share life with is manifested in ways different from other seasons and activities of life. It reminds me how much I love and appreciate them.

6. Illness brings out the best in people who interrupt their daily lives to pray, show up at the hospital, take care of needs and offer all sorts of support. Church happens.

7. God demonstrates his faithfulness in ways distinct from ordinary life. It seems his Presence manifests in remarkably revealing a creativity and breadth of resourcefulness I don't often notice in other areas of my life. I always have stories to tell of what God did in our weakest moments. Sometimes they are breath-taking.

Illness will always feel an enemy to me. It steals time, money and strength from us. But God shows up to confront this enemy on our behalf. Illness and injury cause life to take unexpected turns which we must endure as God walks us through them. He has the way forward.

In the end, I have seen healing and care. I've also seen death result. All of it can beckon us to see the need for fundamental change whether it's slowing down, taking better care of ourselves, or appreciating our seasons of "normalcy."

I would rather not go through these intrusions, but I have and will again. May they keep me nearer Jesus and those who are gifts to me beyond understanding.

Now its back to the hospital and my beloved.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

I'm Pretty Sure We Don't Have REDEMPTIVE TRACTION Just Yet.

traction, n 1. the adhesive friction of a body on some surface, as a wheel on a rail or a tire on a road. 2. the state of being drawn or pulled.
adhesive, adj 1. clinging; tenacious; sticking fast.
friction, n  1. Mech., Physics. the resistance of a surface to the relative motion, as sliding or rolling of a body moving a long a given surface.

Been thinking of late about what if any Kingdom effect we actually have on the people of Northampton, especially those who disdain calling themselves Jesus-followers.

Another way to put it: Do we have any discernible REDEMPTIVE TRACTION?

Not just yet . . . if you measure it by adhesive friction which enables gaining forward movement because we are sticking fast in the consciousness of the city, i.e, we are becoming known and accepted as Jesus-followers. And because of that, people are opening to the One we follow.

Case in point: yesterday after a brief breakfast at Sylvester's with Tricia, I stopped by the Chamber of Commerce to inquire as to how to become a member. I was right there, so I popped in. I introduced myself to the Member Services Manager. She asked who I was with. I told her imagine/Northampton, a new church in town. She said, "Oh, I have not heard of you." We've been here 2 years in July.

I've heard the same response a number of times. Our advertising budget has been a pittance at best so we've not used the usual channels to get the word out. We've not had a familiar presence to most people in town. Our presence is better recognized by the Christian community here, but they're not the people we are most trying to serve.

To be fair, I should note we're recognized by a small number of street musicians and homeless folks because we talk to them often and serve them at the Interfaith Shelter monthly. There are few others in town as well. But that constitutes little traction in my estimation.

So what do I think redemptive traction would look like? Before I tell you, I'm aware much redemptive traction is more than likely developing beyond our sight where the Holy Spirit is putting necessary pieces in place before the observable manifests. I know the Kingdom works that way.

Here are a few markers:

1. We become familiar and safe enough that people talk of their spirituality with us. They see us as people like them with weaknesses, hopes, passions, convictions, losses and sorrows.

2. They invite us into their worlds. We work together on voluntary efforts serving the people of the city or help them do something they need doing.

3. We have more conversations about why we're convinced Christianity is true. Our relationships with people in town evolve to that level of discourse.

4. Some of them become intrigued enough to come to worship. They see us as authentic and humble, so trust grows into real relationship and they want to discover our world because we've taken their world seriously.

5. They come to know Jesus and learn to follow him with us. Slowly, they are inspired to invite people they know to open to Christ and follow him because of how he changed their story.

6. They grow to develop and use their gifts in Kingdom loving and serving with us.

7. They embrace being a follower of Jesus in Northampton as their Primary Identity.

8. Over time, imagine/Northampton grows in numbers to the point where we have a physical space on Main Street, a "third place" for students, artists, intellectuals, business people, musicians, young families, street people and older folks to find refreshing, conversation, and, oh yeah, a church happens to meet there too.

So there's a little of what I mean by redemptive traction. We would be making a substantial difference in the lives of people who Jesus loves and desires for them to know him. In addition, we'd be characterized as a group of people who love and serve "the least of these," Christ's brethren whether they chose to follow him or not. He is the one opening people's eyes and convicting them of a need to change. We just live focused on loving and serving.

We are here for this.

And I realize we are on the way.  Even though, sometimes spiritual friction seems to nullify the traction needed to move forward, in reality, it doesn't. I know the Holy Spirit eventually overcomes all that stands in the way of establishing his mission in Northampton - on our watch or later.

He is the ultimate REDEMPTIVE TRACTION.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Sitting with Old Men of God The Other Day.

All my life I've had the blessing of being near men and women well in years who were full of life even though they were sometimes in their late 80's. Beyond the expected limitations of getting older, they lived with vigor. They still had deep fascination for being alive and were constantly about pursuits reflecting what they cared for most. If they could think straight and get out of bed in the morning, they were getting important stuff done.

This week, I had the privilege to sit in the company of men in their 70's, 80's and 90's who have followed Christ for decades.

I was taken by their presence, passion and praying.

Just being near men who served Jesus for many years and faced life's storms whether infirmity, financial or professional stresses, family problems, seasons of questioning and doubt, struggles with sin, church craziness or the loss of spouses, opened my eyes to what godly aging could look like. I recognized a certain weathered grace in them.They had a bearing forged by years of walking with Jesus. Years of service to the Gospel sculpted deep lines in them, lines of godly meaning easy to see and hear.

Equally ingratiating was the passion still flowing from them as they talked of the primacy of Jesus, their fascination with the mission of the Gospel, and the need for unity in the Church around him and his mission. They spoke as men still running hard for the prize, fueled by their longing to see his Kingdom come in this generation. While their fire was encased in old mens' bodies, their hearts were as a younger man's. In fact, they seemed as much dedicated to the cause of Christ as they had ever been, perhaps even more.

Then there was the way they prayed. Their voices had the physical tenor and tone of an old man, but their words had the quiet fire of warriors. They prayed for the things of God to be made manifest in this sorry world. You could hear the desire and conviction. These men are closer to the end of their races than maybe I am, but their fervency remains vibrant and virile. They prayed in earnest.

I hope to be like them if God grants me fullness of years. I tell people these days I want to be running harder for the laurel crown at the end of my days than when I began. By God's grace and my cooperation there will be no sauntering or jogging into the finish line for me. While life's injuries and scars may require me to limp or even crawl in, I want to be moving forward as hard as I can.

I hope someday my life will reflect what I saw in these white-haired men. May my loyalty to Jesus and his way show the same grace and winsome dignity to younger men and women as did theirs to me.

Not for my honor, but for his.

Make me able, Jesus.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Surprising Realization in Northampton.

What are you up to Jesus?

Some of you who have been close to the adventure we are on know that Tricia and I prayed in Simsbury a year before we came to the Pioneer Valley he would put imagine/Northampton smack dab in the center of Northampton. And, we wanted to be right on Main Street; right in the center of it all.

When we moved in the summer of 2008, we moved into Rev. James Taylor's house in Sunderland, 20 minutes north of Northampton. It was a necessary detour I have realized in hindsight. He also gave us offices just off Main Street, and only 90 seconds from where he would give us to live next. So in the summer of 2009 he opened 70 Main Street to us. The apartment, what I call our "crib," (homage to mny being a jazz musician in the late 60's and through the 70's), is right in the center of town where Main Street intersects with Pleasant and King Streets. The building is on the southeaster corner of a crossroads in the center of town, on Main Street! God answered our prayer and then some!

When we first moved in, more than one Jesus-follower noted the "strategic" significance of God putting us right in the middle of the city. They saw it as the beginning of something profound God was up to. Not only are we living on Main Street at a crossroads, but we are just across the street from where Jonathan Edwards served as Pastor in the early 18th Century. The building he served in burned down centuries ago, but we are just across the street just the same.

While I am not equating anything we are up too as being equivalent to the First Great Awakening, I am noting something seems to be percolating. There are hints

And that is just the half of it.

Yesterday, Tricia, Jim and I met with David Pesuit, the landlord of the building where imagine/Northampton has its offices, as well as the building where we live. He owns them both. A few months ago the tenants in the office space on the second floor of 70 Main Street moved out. We have been meeting for a month at our crib for worship. We are outgrowing it already. If we have 20+ people it gets cramped. So we met David to see the second floor office as a potential next space for imagine/Northampton. As he was telling us about the space and some of the history of the building he mentioned: "Oh yeah," it also sits on the site of the very first church in Northampton. It was on this very spot in the 1600's. What?

It took a minute for me to realize we were gathering where the first Christians in Northampton gathered-at the very same crossroads. When I let the realization take hold, I was moved by the mysterious way God seems to be pulling our mission together. There hints of Kingdom design we never suspected:

1. Joseph Hawley was Jonathan Edwards cousin. Tricia's maiden name is Hawley. hawleys help settle Northampton.
2. We prayed to live in the center of the city on Main Street and here we are.
3. We live across the street from the site of meeting house where Jonathan Edwards preached, and the First Great Awakening sprung (at least one the key places in America).
4. We are meeting as a church on the very site where the first church in Northampton was gathered.

Something Kingdom wonderful seems afoot.

Lest you think I have delusions of grandeur, I don't. All of this is not just a little intimidating if I am reading the signs correctly and not coming to false conclusions. There are responsibilities that come with it, heavy responsibilities to be faithful and and diligent with our part of the deal. We need to persevere no matter the trial or testing.

What we realized yesterday also added significance to a vision Tricia saw this summer after we moved. God opened her eyes to the fact the crossroads where we live and are meeting as a church, is protected by huge warrior angels. They are stationed on the roofs of each building on each corner. In the fall, someone confirmed independently without knowing it what Tricia saw.

God is creating something and we seem to be strategically placed to play our part.

Wow! We are continuing to discover this God who is far more than we can imagine. We are experiencing what we are calling others to. I love it!

So my simple prayer is we will be faithful and obedient to what God has summoned us to at 70 Main Street. May we not miss anything he has assigned us to fulfill.

Lord Jesus, fully establish the Kingdom work of our hands entrusted to us and be glorified on our watch!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Encountering Walter

I've been praying all the time lately, (in fact, I am praying as I write this). It comes lately in five forms
1. My variation of the Jesus Prayer:

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner. Show me favor and establish the Kingdom work of my hands that you might be glorified.

2. Praying in tongues under my breath. I received the gift many years ago. I was not looking for it. God gave it to me at the beginning of our turn toward a life of ministry. It came in my mid-30's just after going through intense inner healing counseling for a year, and learning the spiritual discipline of listening prayer.
3. Praying the Shema (with added Great Commandment) and the Lord's Prayer.
4. General Intercession.
5. Confession. 

Praying like this is having an tangible effect on me and what I am doing. For instance:

On Monday, I needed to make a bank deposit. I went to our offices on Armory Street to drop off a bag of garbage from our apartment on Main Street, just around the corner from the office. From there, I decided to walk through Thorne's Market to get to the bank.

Standing just outside the back door on the lower level of Thorne's was Walter, a tall, handsome black man who can be found most days on Main Street in Northampton playing his old guitar and singing for money even in the bitter cold. Walter knows me by name and vice versa. We have talked many times as I have been out and about on errands or heading out to meet people.

He has the gift of gab. Walter loves to talk about being a musician, about learning songs, practicing and wanting to get better. He talks a lot about that. He did on Monday too. He also showed me a milk carton he had cut in half with words he had written about being a master musician and in need of prayer - interesting combination.  He seemed pleased by what he'd written. He also mentioned he had written the words to hundreds of songs, and just needed someone to help him put the music to them.

In reality, he isn't very good, but not for lack of desire.

So we struck up a brief conversation. As it took its usual turns regarding music, Walter mentioned he has stage fright. He said he could really get a song down and be singing with abandon until someone would stop and listen. He would then get very distracted and nervous. He didn't like it at all. He looked truly bewildered by it.

God prompted me to tell him to ask God to help him when that happened. I did and he began to talk about the Lord and how he prayed to him all the time. In the process, he also started to talk vaguely about getting involved at an early age in stuff he was not proud of and made things hard. He hinted at serious drug use and needing to be away from "that crowd." He let on a bit that it might still be a problem.

I had been told previously he is an addict and not a good man.

I interjected he needed to work on that stuff in the company of people who had the same struggle and were striving to follow Jesus. I said he needed to let go and surrender his heart to Jesus completely. I added the Scripture from the Gospel of John that "If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." He made me repeat it 3-4 times. I told him he could not do it alone. I told Him Jesus is the point of everything and I am praying for him.

The point of the story is I think God gave me more boldness in this encounter with Walter because I have been praying constantly. I had never talked to him that way before.  Praying continually seems to change the spiritual atmosphere creating openness and more freedom in me to be available to his work, I think.  I am experiencing similar openness every day. I like it and want more.

It's what I have been wanting since moving up here.


If you feel the tug of God to live more in the missionary mindset ask him to help you pray all the time. From our side of the table I think the Kingdom is established through fervent prayer and the freedom created in us because of it. It seems to help us be more "present" to opportunities all around us.

Monday, March 15, 2010


Below is what I presented to our gathering in worship yesterday. I hope it will be a help for you to engage new people in order to hear their story, tell yours and perhaps open them to Jesus in the process.

It followed a talk Jim LaMontagne gave on John 9. 


Not only are we in the process of discovering this God who is far more than we can imagine, but our Kingdom mission is to help others do the same.
So, how can we do that?

1. Pray each day God would lead you to someone. Ask God to help you not miss the opportunity(ies) he will bring. Ask that he show you favor and establish his redemptive mission in your life. Ask him to help you take a risk. tell him without his help you will likely hesitate and miss who he has waiting for you.

2. Remember everyone shares your humanity and bears the image of God no matter how muted or distorted. Treat them with dignity and humility. Everyone has longings and desires like you. Everyone wants to matter to somebody as do you.  Everybody has been hurt (sometimes crushed), by their own actions, or by those of others. While some are deeply hardened by what they have lived through, many are not.

Letting this really sink deeply into your heart helps you open to people who are offensive or have radically different life experiences, are just plain scary, or hard to connect with. It also helps you connect with friends, colleagues, and family members who don't follow Jesus or are antagonistic to Christians.

3. Everyone has a story worth listening to. Find out what it is. See if you can connect some of it with your story - very important. Listen for the pain or disillusionment. Look for life-questions they might be asking without being aware of it. Don't pounce when you hear one; just pray and remember what they revealed to you so you can connect.

4. If you can, tell your story, do so in a way that connects you to theirs and shows how you previously put God in a box. Tell how he changed your view. Always point them to Jesus: what he said about himself, and your life-changing experience of him.

5. The purpose is not to debate, but to listen and connect. Your goal is to have a chance to tell the reason for the hope within you. Be able to tell them what convinced you Jesus is the God of all creation.

6. You will encounter skeptics, cynics and people satisfied with their lives. If they want to argue just to argue, don't. If they want to really address hard questions, ask God for wisdom and simply reveal what you believe and why. Ask questions of them to further clarify their position, but let God do the convicting.

May Jesus teach us how to listen and respond with intelligence, grace, compassion and humility.

From the Fog to the Focus.

We had a friend stay with us last week. She is a gifted professional coach and consultant. We have known her for a number of years. She was not with us to consult, per se, but in the course of many conversations over the week, she was able to offer keen insight into imagine/Northampton and what we need to change for the better. She cares for us and the mission we have been summoned to.

She also affirmed what I sensed, but could not articulate well.

Most helpful was her questioning where our strategic focus was these days. She could not draw a bead on it. I know why: it had become refracted and diffuse over the last few months. We have been scattered in our direction. The experience has, at times,  felt to me a bit like chasing after the wind or grasping at straws. I really couldn't articulate the strategic focus to her. When I would try, she would get a very puzzled look on her face. And I was getting lost as the words stumbled from my mouth. It was awkward, but revealing.

As we dealt with the confusion she reminded me of the critical need to focus on our main thing. What is the strategic focus we need to pour our resources toward to best accomplish why we are here in the first place? As I said, this wasn't new to me, but I saw afresh the imperative of doing so.

We had been trying what seemed to make sense such as having public worship once a month. We were also beginning to brainstorm forums and events we could do to establish a presence and meet a need in Northampton. And we were thinking again about our initial idea of having a place on Main Street where we could serve the city. Lately, we decided to pull back from public offerings and re-group to deepen our community as a house church.

So we were trying, but trying does not equate to having a real strategic focus.

From her questioning and our discussion I was ushered back to the imagine/Northampton mission statement:

To creatively help people discover the God who is far more than they can imagine.

The question became: "so how best can we do that?" As I reflected, it made sense we needed to do so internally and externally. In other words, we need to help the people God has already gathered around the imagine mission, i.e., the Launch and Leadership Teams, the imagine/Band, and the people coming regularly to worship with us. How do we help them discover God where they still don't know him? How do we help them deepen their understanding, surrender more of their hearts, and follow him more closely as their primary way of life? Deepening our community gathered around Jesus who has called us together to know and serve him makes sense. If they are not spiritually formed and convinced of his love and the call to serve him, how will they be able to "incarnate" his love in Northampton?  (Mission focus 1a)

Next, I thought about the fact we also need to help people discover him who are not yet called by his name. The reason we are here is just that. It is our "prime directive." My next blog will articulate a way of beginning. (Mission focus 1b)

The last question concerns by what means will we accomplish 1a or 1b? Will it be imagine on Main necessitating a major fundraising campaign? Will it be centered on developing our house church and organically growing a "viral" community of Jesus followers who fan out into the city and build relationships with people one at a time? Could the public forums and events be the best way of connecting?

The Leadership and Launch Teams will have to decide with the help of the Holy Spirit in the days ahead. We shouldn't tarry in ascertaining God's strategic focus a day more than is necessary for discerning God's will.

Finally, in another discussion with our friend, it became clearer to me we don't really operate as a team. We really operate more as a small group of like-mind Jesus-followers who care for one another, love Jesus, support the mission, and want to see it realized. Six of us did move up here and a few others have joined our merry band. People are learning to be missional individually, and most help out with events, etc. But I think all would agree ours is not yet a coordinated effort where we all have distinct responsibilities on the team, and are accountable to one another to fulfill them. We are not adverse to such a team dynamic; we're just not there yet. We need to get there.

So I feel like my fog has lifted a bit.  You might remember, I have ADD so the fog dogs me. I just had to write that!

I know a key part of my leadership role in the days ahead will be to keep this need in front of everybody all the time. I must be like a broken record for a while. Vision leaks and strategic focus dims if someone isn't keeping them in view constantly.

If we fail to focus we will languish in confusion and maybe even chase our tails. The Gospel and the Kingdom are too precious a treasure to squander in vacillating ineptitude.

Pray for imagine/Northampton and the missionaries gathered to launch it. Here is the team:

Kit & Tricia McDermott
Jim & Karin LaMontagne
Matt & Karen Bayne
Nate Oldham
Ashley Capozzoli (soon to be Nate's bride)
Michael Dubuque
Maureen Frates

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Geezers and the Wings of Eagles.

Been thinking much about resilience (the ability to rebound, spring back, recover) these days.

Remember, I am an old man planting a church (imagine/Northampton). As some of you know, I have taken fondly to referring to myself as a geezer, a slang term for someone who is not only ambling toward decrepitude, but also is a bit of an odd character. I have noticed some oddness (although not full-bore eccentricity just yet), and I like it, actually. Also, I think the term is used most aptly of men. I think 60 is the threshold to the Land the Geezerdom. I know I passed through the gates a few miles back.

Anyway . . .

I find my "geezerliness," especially in the light of the 60 (almost 61 in April), years I have accumulated, plays a frequent role in launching imagine. As I face the relentless and sometimes bewildering challenges of  developing this mission in Northampton, I experience the troubling presence of weakness, and inability:

1. I am physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually tired more quickly; they lingers longer than when I was a young, even middle-aged man. Recovering takes more time (and humbling patience, grrrr).

2. My ADD seems more prevalent in that it is both harder to not wander in distraction and stay focused on stuff needing disciplined effort. A baffling fog can settle in from encountering too many options and choices. Rebounding firmly into order is less easy to do.

3. Because there are so many details to put in place and stay on top of most of the time, I struggle more with keeping them organized from day to day. Springing back from chaos becomes just harder to do.

4. As I have rewritten previously, the spiritual warfare here is unrelenting. Coming in forms of resistance, obstruction (like swimming in peanut butter), and the constant invitation to discouragement, it can grind down a geezer. Rebounding from persisting adversity is not always simple at any age, much less at 60.

5. Just coming to terms with the reality and vicissitudes of aging itself, never mind launching a church in the process, can be daunting because mortality has a greater presence.

In the face of all this,however, I realize resilience is both an act of the will, and a gift of grace, igniting and sustaining resilience. I have to choose the way of resilience every day, but choosing only becomes efficacious as God grants the ability as well. Grace makes a way and points to the means.

Still, I will have to be resilient in the face of my diminishment speeding up inexorably over the days. I run smack dab into the human condition and must work within its bounds. No getting around it. Truth be told, God makes me able beyond my ability to do this . . . if I surrender and pay attention to the whisperings of his help. I live every day in the reality that I am an old man planting a church, but in this last 220 my life's journey. God has summoned me to do this now in my sixth decade.

So I am a geezer learning a different quality of resilience. I need more of God's help in it, because I am diminishing more noticeably than in my young years. Bouncing back has become more of a spiritual enterprise. Sure, I need physical rest for mind and body, Sabbath, and oases of quiet to take my hands off the work. But what I need more are spiritual oases of unhurried prayer, silent reflection, deep thinking and sitting in the Scripture. It is in those places that I am bouyed on wings of eagles.

I want to make that flight more often.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Grace: The Summa of Our Ennobling

"For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works." (Titus 2:11-4)
Such an amazing picture of grace, its efficacy and fruitfulness! Grace gets it done. Grace brings salvation; it frees us from judgment and condemnation for eternity. Grace trains us to shun ungodliness, anything which offends God and transgresses his way of life for us. Grace trains us to gradually renounce worldly passions full of deceiving sensuality and selfish pleasures or pursuits. It reveals that what sparkles and entices ends up stinging like an adder, numbing the heart to true joy.

Grace leading to true life trains us to hearty self-controlled lives, being able to walk uprightly before God, and actually becoming godly people - having hearts after his heart so we pursue the purposes of God and follow in his ways.

Grace enables us to wait longingly and patiently for what we hope is the good end of all things: the triumphal appearing of the astounding glory of Jesus the Messiah, who is our God above all other gods; who saved us with his own life, substituting his righteousness for our sin, atoning for us. In our waiting, we are expectant and open to the possibilities for creating change. He has fully redeemed us from rebellious lawlessness...all of it. He sacrificed himself that we might the people of his possession, dedicated to living all of our lives doing the good work which frees, heals and reconciles them to God.

Grace will teach the way to work for the good as our fullest joy and greatest longing. It will release us from the fear of not going for the many "brass rings" in life. We may even start to view such pursuits as "chasing after the wind." Grace will lead us to our place in settling the Kingdom of life and freedom on the earth.Our zeal will be for the good which blesses.

Grace gradually ennobles us without our notice. Our purifying on this earth makes us fit to carry the weight of glory, the summa of our ennobling.

Amazing grace is the "catalytic agent" by which salvation and redemption are possible at all. Without it there is only law and works as the means of redemption. We know where that ends. Grace opens the way and makes us sufficiently able to walk in it as we are trained over a lifetime to want God's heart above all else. It is a treasure of infinite magnitude and inestimable value, making all who live by grace full of riches no matter their life experience.

In the end, grace will heal and restore Creation to unstoppable life. Life so radiant and full it hamstrings death, dragging it to the place of utter nothingness. Grace will empty sin of its sting. Grace will harness evil and shut its voice.

Grace will bring the color to the fade, the music to the noise, the dance to the death march.

Grace will then bow to its Lord and with a tearful smile say: "It is finished once and for all my Beautiful King."