Tag Archives: grace

Day of War – a short “review” of sorts

dayofwarA few years ago, a friend of mine recommended I check out “Day of War,” a book by Cliff Graham about David and the “mighty men.”  He described it as a crazy mixture of Braveheart, 300, “Wild at Heart”, and the Bible.  I was certainly intrigued but had enough on my plate already, so I didn’t think too much about it.  Plus, I already knew all about David’s mighty men, so I figured there really wasn’t any need for me to read the book anyhow.

Here in Romania, I still have plenty to do, but it seemed like the right time to check out the book.  I had the ebook version, so I “opened” it up and started reading.

I’d like to say the book is awesome.  I really want to be able to say that.  But in all honesty, it’s not.  The story is awesome but the book itself leaves a lot to be wanting.  The hard, honest truth is that Cliff Graham is at best a mediocre, predictable author, but at worst he’s downright confusing, has caricatures for characters, and fails to draw the reader’s heart into the story.  I appreciate Cliff Graham’s attempt, but he would have been wise to co-author this book with someone more gifted in writing.

Still, the story carries the book with or without a gifted author.  And there’s no doubt about it that Cliff Graham knows how to pick a great story.  And he’s not afraid to show the hard, gritty, dirty, bloody story for what it is.  He makes war dirty and warriors even more screwed up, and he blows that cartoonish, Sunday school picture of David out of our minds with a shotgun.

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I’ve been thinking about grace lately

Lately, the topic of “grace” has been on my heart.  It’s such a powerful word, and yet most of us don’t even have any idea about what it means.  We read it in the Bible all the time (“Grace and peace to you…”) and use it even in our everyday lives (“Just give me a little grace this time…”).  It’s almost like we’ve gotten so familiar with it that we forgot what it means, like when you repeat a word over and over and over again so that it eventually loses all meaning.

Grace.  It changes everything.

Just take a look at what grace does according to Ephesians 2:4-9.  It reads, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”

Simply put, grace is favor, the favor of God.  When God looks favorably on your life, that changes everything.

Grace saves us, grace changes us and perfects us, grace pulls us into heaven, grace welcomes us into the family of God, grace makes us children of God, grace fills us with power…

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Why do the Orthodox Need the Gospel… #5

(Note:  Before reading, please understand that I am not attacking the Orthodox Church.  In general, they have an amazing understanding of the majesty of God, a deep appreciation for artwork and beauty in worship, a respect for tradition, a love of history, and many more admirable qualities.  However, many who call themselves “Orthodox” are desperately in the dark.)

Of all the places I’ve lived, Bucuresti is by far the most religious.  Orthodox churches are on almost every block, it’s common to see priests on the streets, and most people believe God exists.  So, in such a religious place, why am I here sharing the Gospel?  Here is reason number five…

Reason #5 – I’ve Already Been Baptized…

Despite the religious observance, the vast majority of those with whom we’ve spoken have had little to no inward religious life.  We have met many who told us flatly, “I have been baptized; I gave an offering,” as if Christianity was simply a matter of doing a few religious things.  But Jesus wants to be first in our hearts.  In fact, he strongly rebuked those who had the right works but the wrong heart:  “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far away from me” (Mark 7:6).  People need to know that Jesus came for their heart, not just for an occasional glance in his direction.

Why do the Orthodox Need the Gospel… #4

(Note:  Before reading, please understand that I am not attacking the Orthodox Church.  In general, they have an amazing understanding of the majesty of God, a deep appreciation for artwork and beauty in worship, a respect for tradition, a love of history, and many more admirable qualities.  However, many who call themselves “Orthodox” are desperately in the dark.)

I was speaking with someone about Jesus when he bluntly ended our conversation with, “Romania is an Orthodox country.”  It’s true many have heard about Jesus and even believe in God, but there is much work yet to do here.  So, why do we still need to preach the Gospel in Romania?

Reason #4 – Saved by Faith Works…

Orthodox theology says men are saved by grace from God, but people are taught grace is given only after work is done.  The church, for example, teaches that after a man dies, he will not enter heaven until a relative gives an offering.  (What if he has no relatives?)  Also, if a man realizes he is in sin, he is told to give a donation to a priest in order to release forgiveness.  (Didn’t Jesus require simply repenting?)  Romanians, even faithful Orthodox believers, need to know that forgiveness is not given based on religious observance but the kindness of Jesus.  “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Seeing God at work

When I think of God being at work, I usually think of miracles and people getting saved.  I really haven’t seen much of that here in Romania yet, but I have definitely seen his hand at work.

Here are some of the ways I’ve seen God’s grace:

1) I got my camera back.  This is the clearest miracle I’ve seen since being in Bucureşti.  I live in a city of four million where corruption among the police is normal.  For them to even care to find one little camera and then to return it to me without any papers proving I own it… well, that’s a miracle.  All my Romanian friends agree that I should never have seen the camera again.

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