Wednesday, March 05, 2008

It's All About Grace

The picture over there, on the right, is the Album cover for a CD with the title shown above. Ironically, given the context here, the album was recorded by the long-gone musical group Truth, which was based in Mobile, Alabama (as my feeble memory claims, anyway). In fact, they performed in our church more than once.

There are 35 or 40 people out there who probably get the connection, already, so on the off chance someone else actually reads this, I'll 'splain:

I was privileged to attend the Exploratory meeting regarding the formation of the Antioch Network of Churches. Others more skillful at communicating will post about what it was about, and what happened, so I won't get into that, here. But I'll toss out a couple of observations.

The first one is that I sat among a group of about 38 people, roughly half white and half not. And I have to tell you, there's no group of people I'd rather have been with for those two days, than the ones I was with. It was an absolute blast. What makes it ironic to me, and what causes the grace to resonate so ringingly with me, is that I was the only one I saw there that wasn't in the ministry. The people there were pastors ... one was the wife of a pastor of a "Cowboy Church" and she was deeply involved in the work (and also a CPA) ... and the others were pastors or ministry assistants. Me, I'm a college flunk-out layman, and the only layman, non-church-staff dude there.

The Grace of God? The fact that I was a believer, and the fact that I was even there, are startling (to me) reminders of the unfathomable grace of God. And the respect and lack of condescension, the acceptance, and the interaction with others there showed me that living out the grace of God in their lives is important to these folks. One and all, and not just at meetings. If I have any sensitivity at all.

Wade Burleson shared thoughts about Grace and Truth in the first session. He referred to God's giving of "grace upon grace", and contrasted that with efforts at anything which is based on "truth upon truth".

Boot up your computer bible and search on "grace" some time and see the tremendous richness of what you find.

Truth simply exists. Sure, we'll never grasp spiritual truths unless the Spirit reveals it to us, but even that revelation is a matter of God's grace!

Ephesians 2:8-9, anyone?

I had breakfast with Paul Burleson yesterday. Wow. I don't recall having that much church, even in church, since this happened last December. See, Paul had talked the evening before about the form of prayer and how he and his wife thanked God, and blessed their food at meals, in a celebratory fashion by toasting The Lord and proclaiming His provision for them, heads up and eyes open and glasses raised. I must say, we got shoutin' happy thanking God shall we say enthusiastically. I just have to say, THANK YOU, Paul. Brother. Friend.

Anyway, back on point: the meeting was all about Grace, and manifesting that in our work in particular ways. If you want any more details about the purpose of the meeting, they are, and, I'm sure, will be, well set forth at Wade's Blog.

I'm reminded of the whole lengthy episode of Bill Murray, Madelyn Murray O'Hair's son. As I understand it, the lawsuit that got prayer tossed from schools was filed in his name, as he was the student. I remember that, and all the hatred lavished on him, expressed or unexpressed, and then his becoming a Christian and being called into the ministry.

One of God's elect, and he was likely crucified hundreds, or thousands, of times in people's minds.

If you want to go on a fault-finding expedition about the ANC, I suggest you make your words sweet and palatable. You may have to eat them.

I'm betting on it.

Ironic, huh? Truth singing about Grace?

8 Comments:

At 11:24 AM, March 05, 2008, Blogger Kevin Bussey said...

Grace! My favorite subject!

Wish I could have been there.

 
At 2:26 PM, March 05, 2008, Blogger Paul Burleson said...

Bob,

"Where TWO or three..." we proved that to be true at breakfast didn't we friend. What a holy hoot your are to just be around.

 
At 3:25 PM, March 05, 2008, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

Paul,

Thanks. I was going to call you a fellow hooter, but that might convey something unintended.

Some day, the church will catch sight of the fact that being around 125 or 800 can be like that, too. We already saw being around 36 or 38 was.

 
At 4:26 PM, March 06, 2008, Blogger LindaSueBuhl said...

"glimpse of heaven" worship - we were blessed last summer to be with a group of international pastors in Texas for the Global Proclamation Academy. During dinner (great barbecue of course)we listened to their stories of salvation,grace and love. One friend (a missionary to the deaf) leaned over and whispered - this is one zillionth of what we get to experience for eternity -I was in tears. .
BTW - please get your video ready for whatever your incredible worship leader you showed before - does for Easter (or Resurrection Sunday or whatever is now PC). I know PC is not your forte - just had to throw it in there for agitation's sake.

 
At 4:56 PM, March 06, 2008, Blogger Bob Cleveland said...

Linda: Yup, and the meetings themselves, the dinner with Dwight McKissic and the others at Dwight's home, the fellowship after the meeting at the Cheesecake Factory, and breakfast with Paul Burleson were ALL just like that.

I can wait, but I can't wait.

And I'll pass along a copy of what you said, to Paula. She'll appreciate it.

Also, it's EASTER. The High Holy Day, as far as I'm concerned.

 
At 5:05 PM, March 06, 2008, Blogger LindaSueBuhl said...

The pinnacle for us also - we love Easter - all of it - secular and religious and bunnies and lilies and hams! Did I mention we love Easter?

 
At 3:38 AM, March 07, 2008, Blogger Debbie Kaufman said...

It makes me have wanted to be there Bob. I am sure it was the same atmosphere as the Holy Spirit conference last year. I might add not only to Bill Murray become a Christian but he is a wonderfully Biblical author in his own right. It just shows when God does a work He does it mightily.

 
At 4:21 PM, March 07, 2008, OpenID justjessie said...

It's ALL about Grace, really, isn't it? I LOVE the idea of thanking God with glasses raised in a toast. My boys already fuss over who will say the blessing. If we did it that way, we would never hear the end of it!
I also like what you said in answer to my comment a couple of days ago about being a Charismatic Calvinist. That sounds great to me. :)

 

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