The Next American President
Fruit and Gifts

Disappointment and Grace

A guest post from my wife, Nicole Conner ...

 

Today I wept.

Disappointment is a hard emotion to handle.

I am so disappointed to hear about another brother fallen.

So disappointed for the hundreds of people hurt, confused, betrayed.

So disappointed at another tarnish to the name and body of Christ.

So disappointed for the disappointed - the ones who may turn and walk away.

The frailty of our own sinful humanness is a heavy burden.

I get so disappointed with myself.

 

Only the understanding and experience of God's grace acts as an antidote to disappointment.

We really are earthen vessels, cracked and broken, shuffling around on feet of clay.

We may boast victories, and proclaim triumphs of accomplishment, achievement or success, however when closely examined they are mere illusions. None last, all are forgotten.

The only thing that has stood the test of time is a cross and an empty tomb.

We pin all our hope on this - that despite the poverty of our heart - our Redeemer lives.

And that He has made this incomprehensible gift of grace available to us.

 

In the words of Manning: "For those who feel their lives are a grave disappointment to God, it requires enormous trust and reckless, raging confidence to accept that the love of Christ knows no shadow of alteration or change. When Jesus said, "Come to me, all you who labour and are heavy burdened," He assumed we would grow weary, discouraged, and disheartened along the way ... He had no romantic notion of the cost of discipleship. He knew that physical pain, the loss of loved ones, failure, loneliness, rejection, abandonment, and betrayal would sap our spirits: that the day would come when faith would no longer offer any drive, reassurance, or comfort..."

(Brennan Manning - The Ragamuffin Gospel).

 

As I work through disappointment I draw on Grace. Grace never really makes sense.

It is given to those I think should not deserve it.

It enables me to love those I don't want to.

It causes me to reflect on my own neediness, and the Greatness of God.

It allows me to give comfort, even when I am in distress.

It allows me to heal, even when I am wounded.

It gives me hope and from that hope springs joy.

 

To live without God's grace would truly be to live in the very pit of hell.

And yet I look at grace like a child who has never opened a present.

I watch others rip it open and trample it underfoot.

I want grace, but prefer Karma - eye for eye, tooth for tooth.

Grace is unfair, it's messy, and although it's free it certainly is not cheap.

 

God help us, your broken people, to live lives that are reflection of your grace.

Help us not to confuse it with apathy

or sell it to cover our discrepancies.

And according to the Psalmist, do not withhold your mercy,

and may your grace, your love and truth protect us (Psalm 40:11).

Comments

Thanks for this wonderful post. :)
Lord, thanks for reminding us of your grace and truth.

Thank you.

As Philip Yancey says..."The scandal of grace." But where would we be without it? Thanks for a great reflection, Nicole.

Oh Nicole...! You have so eloquently put into words what I have been grappling to comprehend in my heart, not just in this current situation, but in other life experiences as well.

"Only the understanding and experience of God's grace acts as an antidote to disappointment."

Grace really is the fulcrum, the connection, where the depths of the human soul can come into the presence of our eternal, holy, Lord.

That was a wonderful comforting piece of writing, Nicole. Such a blessing in this time of confusion and disappointment.

Here's the today tonight interview
http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=SI7pIiMOL2w

matt

Yes, but we have a treasure in this earthen vessel. And the vessel must be broken so that the light shines in! Isn't that a lovely analogy of the glory of God which dwells within us! thank you Holy Spirit.

Have been really mulling over this and here's the thought I have right now: I think Mike Guglielmucci needs to be given space to come to a place of true repentance. It's a rotten business that, being a preacher's kid who is under much pressure to live up to his father's reputation and the church's reputation. It is incredibly tragic he's had to deal with the shame and pain of porn addiction for 16 years, alone.

I hope his dad, Danny, doesn't apply the screws on him to confess and repent straightaway. It doesn't work. True repentance that leads to salvation is the work of the Holy Spirit and cannot be rushed or manufactured. Mike will never be set free of his addiction unless his heart comes to a place of grieving for his own sin and he knows he needs Jesus to cleanse him and set him free.

This all takes time. Lots of time.

Mike needs to be with people who can help him think through this, not psychiatrists who will label him 'unstable' and then try to 'cure' him with prescription drugs. He's already struggling with porn, he doesn't need to get hooked on Prozac. We cannot dope him into repentance.

Planetshakers need to acknowledge he is part of their fellowship and come help him. They must not cast him aside like a leper and try to protect their own reputation by erasing him from their records. Only if a reasonable length of time has passed and Mike does not respond to loving discipline, then only should they remove him from fellowship.

Mike, I forgive you in Jesus' name. You need to repent and make restitution, mate.

I am also saddened by the fall of another leader, particularly one that influenced so many young people. Thankfully it has not affected my faith in the Lord. I have been a Christian for over 14 years and still remember a time when my faith may have been shaken by recently reported sins committed by Michael Guglielmucci and Todd Bentley.

I hope these events can influence the church and how it moves forward. I see a real problem with how many Christians are trained (or lack of training) and how they look upon leadership. I think all too often leaders are put on pedestals and while this is the way of the world, it is not God’s way. If young people do not want to be disappointed and hurt, they should put Jesus on the pedestal. In a world that is always looking for instant gratification (church included), many are looking up to pastors and blindly fall in line with what they say without checking against scripture or the fruit in their lives (although in this case you could argue there was fruit). I always remember my first Pastor telling the congregation not to blindly believe and follow everything that came from the pulpit (including himself) but to always check it against the word of God for ourselves. The problem with instant gratification is that people do not want to take the time and allow the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit to build their relationship with God. People are well intentioned but often fall short when it comes to seeking God. Added to this they often feel unsure if they are hearing from God.

I can only say that in recent years God has spoken more clearly to me than ever before and this has happened when I have been desperate for HIM and not given up in seeking HIM. I have always felt being honest before HIM helps. When angry with GOD, express it to him. Do not have a false pious attitude. It amazes me how many Christians can fool themselves into thinking GOD does not know their heart and true feelings.

I think our senior leadership at CityLife is fantastic but I always remember Mark and Nicole are human and vulnerable to temptation and sin like everyone. So while I follow their leadership I place my hope in Christ, I look to HIM for my answers. Our pastors are just guides on our journey to be more Christ like. We have a responsibility to read and study the bible for ourselves. They should point the way to Christ and if they don’t then you know there is a problem.

I feel for Michael G because I was a porn addict (started about 9 years of age) that led to more sin. I ask myself why Michael G did not feel he could turn to anyone for help from the age of 12. Is it the stigma of being a Pastor’s kid and the whole putting the Pastor (and family) on a pedestal? Why can’t congregations let leaders be humans with the same frailties as everyone else.

It has taken a long time to overcome porn addiction and still can rear up if I don’t maintain intimacy with the Lord. I know many people are well meaning but some of their comments on how to overcome this addiction are naive as it is one of the strongest addictions you can experience due to the type of chemicals released in the brain. It is made more difficult because of the over sexualisation of much of the advertising you see and current fashion where women seem to expose more of themselves than necessary. Being married does not necessarily make this any easier because when making love to your wife, images of what you have seen can enter your mind fuelling your desires. This causes more guilt. Because all this takes place in the mind and it is often a taboo subject, men don’t speak about it and they never deal with it. Additionally you have the power of darkness watching the Christian knowing their weakness and using it against them.

I was really challenged by a John Bevere teaching regarding giving up un-godly habits. You have to hate what God hates and place under the cross before he can really intervene and help you. This is about complete surrender and not holding back any of your deep feelings and desires from God, after all you can’t be tempted with something you don’t desire.

Sure this is an unhappy event but the guy was not killed - life will go on for him. I feel some of these responses require an injection of perspective. How about weeping for a real tragedy - the murder by abortion of about 100,000 pre-born young Australians every year. Just stop and think about the numbers for a minute - 100,000 innocent, defenseless babies butchered in their mother's womb in Australia each and every year. As I write, there is a bill before the Victorian parliament to fully legalise abortion right up until birth. This is something to weep over. Where are the William Wilberforces of this generation who will take a stand against the great evil of abortion? God grieves over abortion and we the church should too.

Hey, Ewan. I'm weeping for the aborted babes too. There's a rally happening in Melbourne on Sept. 8th. to stand up for those without a voice. See "Saltshakers"
about it. Are you going to be there? Weeping with you Nicole. Very well thought out.

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. ~ 1 Peter 4:8

"To see sin without grace is despair. To see grace without sin is arrogance.
To see them in tandem is conversion." - Max Lucado

Hi Marija. Yes I'm going to be there as I've been for the past two years. It is RTLA's annual Freedom to be Born March. You and I might be there but unfortunately a great many Christians won't be bothered. You see abortion's not a trendy or politically correct subject and opposing it may even lead to someone calling us bad names, so it's better just to deceive ourselves into thinking it's unimportant.

Ewan, A thought - you might want to watch against a martyr syndrome. I have found that the followers of CHrist in many ways are giving and loving lot, many are involved in areas of social justice, including the fight against abortion. Your sanctimonious tone concerns me - when we slip into pride because of what we're doing it really leaves a foul taste.

The scripture says... all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. It doesn't matter what the sin is or was, Jesus had to die for the "white lie" or the one who commits murder. His grace covers us all and the Scripture also says "He who has no sin throw the first stone". I am also a preacher's kid, and living up to the expectations of your father and mother, the church, and your peer group can be a daunting job, let alone the expectations and accusatory finger of the world and the media. And then there is Satan the accusor of the breathern, and the feeling of being a total failure and dissappointment to all those who hold you in "positions" of authority. Let us love one another with the love that Christ gave to us, when one suffers we all suffer, he is a brother in Christ, a family member that needs our support and encouragement. Sure the sin needs to be cleaned up, so let us all check out our "rigntousness" bank account and see that our deposits are made by the Son of God and not by anything that we could possibly do. We are all sinners saved by grace. I am so grateful.

Thanks Muecke for passing judgement on me. My simple point was that most of the church in Australia and most other western nations seems apathetic on the issue of abortion. Am I wrong?

Hi Ewan, I think you are correct in getting concerned about apathy towards issues of justice - including abortion, homelessness, genocides that are being denied, etc. And there's no doubt that more people need to become active. Especially helping women with unwanted pregnancies find practical solutions like accommodation, etc. Not just a placard in the face. However, when we adopt a marty issue of us being active and everyone else not, it places presumptious judgement on others. When you address an audience in speech or writing you have no idea the lives your audience is living - you have never met them. Maybe if you feel "judged" - then consider your tone on this blog, and don't do it to others.

For the record, I don't really mind being judged - I was just being a bit sarcastic there. What I do object to is this all prevailing and unbiblical "don't judge" attitude.

As a Christian having been involved in the pro-life cause for a few years now (and no, I'm not making reference to this out of pride), I have a pretty good idea what most Christians and churches actually do with regards to opposing abortion - shamefully little.

For many years I was a member of the ACC/AoG denomination but eventually had to leave because of all the worldliness and superficiality. In my 15+ years attending an AoG church and visiting and attending most of the big churches and major conferences, I observed abortion to be rarely mentioned. And I found/find the prevailing attitude towards those who actually take an active public stand against abortion was/is one of covert disapproval.

Comments like what's needed is more support for women "Not just a placard in the face", is the kind of attitude I'm talking about. Not only is this passing judgment on a group of people you likely "have never met" and likely have "no idea the lives" they lead, but worse, it presupposes that this group is not also active in pregnancy support. Many of the ones I know happen to be involved in both.

Hi Ewan,
SO cool that you have been involved with pro-life. In my world there are stax of wonderful people seeking to make a difference in issues of justice. They are kind and compassionate and seek to motivate others by their work, not their anger. It works so much better.

I wonder what exactly you mean by "justice"? These days the term needs defining since 'social justice' is often used by the political left as a code phrase for 'socialism'. So you don't think abortion is something to get angry about?

I notice that Pastor Mark is one of 39 religious leaders in Victoria who have signed an open letter to Victorian MPs outlining their grave concerns about the Abortion Law Reform Bill 2008.

Letter is here:
http://www.cam.org.au/abortion/open-letter-to-victorian-mps-re-abortion-legislation.html

Well done.

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