Archives For grace

(Maybe the spirit of the Hallmark channel has overtaken me, but this just felt like it needed to be said. Braveheart analogies the remainder of the week!).

Sometimes you just need to realize that you’re beautiful.

This is my oldest daughter Emma. Aspiring drummer. Hater of Barbies. First picked in backyard football scrums.

Elegant beauty.

I’ve always known that last part (and not just as an obligated father), but I’m not sure she’s ever thought of herself in that way. Until last week’s school play forced her into a role that suddenly had heads turning and cameras popping. Only then did she seem to subtly awaken to what I’ve been telling her consistently since she was too little to understand

she’s absolutely beautiful. (a 12 year old clone of her mother)

Beyond normal pre-teen insecurities, I think we all wrestle with wrong internal definitions. Past mistakes, unspoken insecurities, or unfortunate circumstances can cast a distorted reflection.

We are broken.

We aren’t good enough.

That’s what makes grace so amazing. That’s what makes the Father’s pursuit so astounding. And sometimes we just need to sit back and absorb the way our Daddy sees us.

Absolutely beautiful.

The Jesus Bubble

Erik Cooper —  May 19, 2010 — Leave a comment

Sometimes I live like Jesus is a giant, inflatable bubble. You know, like something you’d see on that ABC summer smash-hit series Wipeout (yes, I know they jump on top of the big red balls, just roll with me here).

If I can figure out the rules, contort myself just right, and gain the assistance of a fully trained production crew with a human-sized shoe-horn, maybe (just maybe) I can squeeze inside.  Sure, it’s exhausting.  But it satisfies my sense of self-righteousness and desire for control. After all, I want a God I can define, and today I’m defining him as a giant, inflatable bubble ball.

Only problem?  Jesus isn’t an oversized sphere (Seriously. I’ve read the whole Bible. Prince of Peace, Lamb of God, Lion of Judah. No inflatable ball references anywhere).

He’s not asking me to squeeze my way in.  He asking to be invited in.

It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he’ll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With his Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ’s! (Romans 8:11 MSG)

I’ve been following Christ for a long time now, and still every so often I realize it’s happening again.  Slowly and subtly, life becomes all about my effort to squeeze in. To fit the Christian culture.  To Perform well for all who are watching.  Including God.

To climb inside the Jesus bubble.

When all along Jesus is waiting to come alive inside of me.

To do the work.  That I can’t do.  His Spirit.  Inside-out.

Elementary?  Maybe.  New revelation?  Not really.  But I bet every one of you wrestle with the same temptation: trying to climb your way into God’s good graces. It’s natural.  Like water flowing downhill (or boogie boarding into a pool full of breakfast cereal…for real, click here).

Are you trying to climb inside the Jesus bubble?  Why not invite His Spirit to come alive in you instead?

It actually works.  And you look a lot less silly.

I Am Tiger Woods

Erik Cooper —  December 16, 2009 — 5 Comments

I am Tiger Woods.  That was a compelling Nike Ad when Tiger burst onto the public scene over a decade ago.  But it’s true.  I really am Tiger Woods. Seriously.  Don’t believe me?

No, I’m not the world’s number one golfer. I’m not worth even a minuscule fraction of a billion dollars.  I have no endorsement contracts (unless you include being sent a pre-release of Mark Batterson’s new book, Primal for a blog review).  And no (my wife and mother will be so relieved), I haven’t fallen victim to “infidelity” or “transgressions” that would fill tabloid journals and pop-culture news programs.

But I could.

(the ugly, transgression thing…not the world’s number one golfer or billionaire endorsement thing…just to be clear)

That potential exists inside of me. I’m just as broken.  Just as vile.  Just as selfish.  Just as prone to destroying myself and everyone around me. And if you’re really honest with yourself (come on now, you can do it), you’ll admit that you are, too.

My Midwestern Evangelical ingraining used to immediately launch into rants of condescension, condemnation, and arrogant opining.  We tend to hide our own propensity for sin in almost gleefully acknowledging it others. But today as I stare in the mirror, I see less of that religious hypocrite and more the face of a Tiger staring back at me.

Without Jesus I’m a complete mess. Unchecked, I am capable of unspeakable evil.  I will destroy myself and worse yet, everyone around me.  To bury that reality in self-righteousness is to exclude myself from the very grace I proclaim for the world.  I’m not suggesting there’s not choice, responsibility, or consequence.  But I certainly hope I extend the same mercy to others that I know I so desperately and personally need God to extend to me.

“God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.” (John 3:17 MSG)

I am Tiger Woods. And so are you.  Do you have the courage to admit it, too?