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Archive for December, 2011

In the movie The Aviator, Leonardo Dicaprio, playing the character of Howard Hughes, is trying to produce a film that contains a dogfight – an airplane battle in the sky. After watching the first take on film, he commented; ‘We’ve gotta have clouds. Without clouds there is no perspective.’

I thought of that in relation to grace; without the backdrop of sin, grace can lack perspective. Brennan Manning has a new book out – All Is Grace. If you know anything about Brennan Manning, you know his life is that good backdrop.

Philip Yancey, in his forward, says that Manning could hold and audience of thousands spellbound while telling about a Maker who loves and forgives; but then could end up in his hotel room drinking himself senseless. Each time he begged for forgiveness. Philip writes that he ‘progressed not by always making right decisions but by responding appropriately to wrong ones’.

I can relate to Brennan Manning – progressing not by right decisions but by responding appropriately to wrong ones. After doing things I swore I would never do again . . . over and over and over, sometimes I would make myself go without eating; partly to prove to God that I was sorry and partly in hopes that it would make me think a little more the next time.

I like what Manning says on the front end of his book:

This book is by the one who thought he’d
be farther along by now, but he’s not.
It is by the inmate who promised the parole
board he’d be good, but he wasn’t.
It is by the dim-eyed who showed the path
to others but kept losing his way.
It is by the wet-brained who believed if a
little wine is good for the stomach,
then a lot is great.

Some will not be able to relate to this. Some might even disagree with it. But for those of us who have struggled in the battle against evil – winning sometimes but also losing sometimes – where would we be without grace. I like the way Max Lucado puts it; “Mercy forgave the prodigal. Grace threw him a feast.” Grace doesn’t stop at forgiveness. When we come to our senses, no matter how many times, grace offers us an opportunity to start over.

Without this backdrop of sin, grace can end up like items in a store, just another item we associate with Christianity. But with this backdrop, it becomes the window display that catches the eye and makes people want to stop and come in.

Today is December 22. We are getting ready to celebrate the birth of the One who made this grace possible. It is an undeserved gift no matter how you look at it; but if you’ve been the repeat offender, it is the gift. Against that backdrop, grace has perspective.

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Just to let you know . . . I intend to begin a new emphasis with my blogging. It will be geared mainly to the inmates, who when they get out, would like to continue keeping in touch. In addition, it will be for the wives, girlfriends and otherwise significant people, who might have an interest in what the guys are hearing. Lastly, but certainly not least, it will be for other jail/prison ministry workers. My hope is that the posts would stimulate good dialogue that would be real and helpful to all who participate.

In some cases my initial posts could be longer than the typical blog post as it will be the actual presentation that I give to the guys. Down the road, guys who get out, if interested, can read the latest presentation. There wives, etc. can hear the current ones.

I have enjoyed coresponding with them through the old art of letter writing. I tell them that if they will write me, I will write them back. Quite a few have taken me up on it. I see this as a means by which others can benefit from the corespondence.

I write this today to forwarn any who are already a blogging friend, why my posts may be longer than normal. If it ineterest you to follow along I would love to have you. If not, as I am the worlds worst at bypassing long posts, I will understand. Right now, it is just an idea. It may not work but you never know til you try.

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