RSS

Tag Archives: grace

Good Friday

What comes to mind when you think of Good Friday?

1995 comes to my mind, when my youngest son was three years old.

My husband and I were cleaning our vehicles. He cleaned the car in the front yard, and I, the one in the back. While cleaning his car, my husband went into our house to get window cleaner. He left the driver door open.

In the front yard, our home had an elevated driveway that dipped into the street. When my husband returned to his vehicle, he saw it rolling backward down the driveway… along with our three-year old, who fell out of the driver seat and was dragged into the street.

At the bottom of the driveway, the car came to a stop. My husband ran to our screaming son and scooped him into his arms.

In the chaos that ensued, we fled to the hospital. Had our son been run over? Were there internal injuries? His back was scraped and bleeding. My husband had seen the car lurch at the bottom of the incline. He couldn’t tell if the car had run over our boy or if the lurching was the wobble of the car reaching the uneven pavement.

The hospital staff examined our son immediately. In the emergency room waiting area, I wrung my hands, paced, worried. Was our son hemorrhaging? Would he die?

The television in the freezing room hummed above my head. I fought panic and focused on the news anchor. She spoke of midday Good Friday services that had occurred all over town in area churches. The significance of the day pierced my heart. My heavenly Father had freely given His Son to be crucified for me, yet I begged Him to spare my son. 

My heavenly Father had freely given His Son to be crucified for me, yet I begged Him to spare my son.

My son’s imaging showed no damage. Blessed relief rolled over my husband and me. We’d been delivered from the agony of losing a child.

But that grief, that hell, was one my Heavenly Father willingly chose to bear.

It’s inconceivable, isn’t it? What kind of love would look upon me, a sinner, much less take my place?

I’ve included a song for you. Consider the wonder of this good–truly Good–Friday.

~ Jericha Kingston

 
2 Comments

Posted by on March 25, 2016 in Jericha Kingston

 

Tags: , , , ,

Are You Your Husband’s Defender–or His Prosecutor?

3D_Judges_GavelI was annoyed with my husband this weekend. I won’t tell you why. I’m sure at one point, you were annoyed with your spouse, so you can fill in your own offense.

The incident reminded me of something I heard Beth Moore say in her Bible study, Wising Up.  She made the point that, if we wanted to, we could be irritated with our husbands all day, every day. I agree completely—and I think the same goes for him. My husband has as many reasons to find fault with me as I do with him. But Proverbs 19:11 says, “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.”

So here’s a question: In the courtroom of life, who are you to your husband?

Are you the judge, presiding from on high, anxious to make a ruling over his activities? Are you listening to your husband’s accusers and prosecutors, willing to take their side? Are you waiting for him to make a mistake, for your opportunity to bang your gavel and announce, “Guilty!”

Maybe you’re the prosecutor, flitting around the courtroom of life telling everybody what he’s done wrong, reminding the jury and audience about his past sins.

Or you could be the accuser, ready to share the many ways he’s wronged you, watching the audience’s eyes fill with sympathetic tears and shoot daggers at the man you promised to love, honor, and cherish.

Tweet this: In the courtroom of life, be your husband’s defender, not his prosecutor.

In the courtroom of life, I hope to be my husband’s defender. I want to sit beside him and hold his hand. When asked, I want to tell of all the wonderful things he’s done. I don’t have to believe he’s perfect—or even innocent, in some cases. But as his defender, my job is to tell the courtroom—the judge, the jury, the witnesses—about all of his great qualities. Yes, he’s imperfect. But he’s also a million wonderful things.  And if I’ve been a good partner to him, then I’ve been storing up all those wonderful things to remember when the accusers and prosecutors and witnesses hurl their accusations.

I will try to overlook as many offenses as I can and notice all the great things about my husband. I resolve to be not his judge, nor his prosecutor, nor his accuser, but instead to be his defender and best witness. That attitude will be to our glory and that of our heavenly Father.

DSC_8915-25ed
Robin Patchen lives in Edmond, Oklahoma, with her husband and three teenagers. Her third book, Finding Amanda, released in April, and its prequel, Chasing Amanda, released in July. When Robin isn’t writing or caring for her family, she works as a freelance editor at Robin’s Red Pen, where she specializes in Christian fiction. Read excerpts and find out more at her website, robinpatchen.com.

 
3 Comments

Posted by on September 23, 2015 in Robin Patchen

 

Tags: , , ,

Grace in Politics

i votedThe election is over (except for the recounts and runoffs, of course) and your choice might’ve won. He or she might’ve lost.

Show of hands: How many of you voted yesterday? Those of you with your hands up—good for you! Those of you whistling and looking the other way—what were you thinking?

Wait, let me guess. “I don’t have time to vote”? Or maybe, “My vote doesn’t matter that much.” The one I hear a lot lately is: “All those politicians are corrupt, and I refuse to vote for any of them.”

You’re right. Politicians certainly have their issues. They struggle with making good choices, especially when those good choices might cost them their reputations, or votes, or friendships. Politicians have to contend with all the same temptations everybody else does, and they have to do much of it publically. And often times, they do it poorly.

And sometimes, politicians are flat-out wrong. Some believe homosexuality is a commendable lifestyle choice; others believe it’s sin. Some believe it’s the state’s responsibility to provide for its citizens; others believe in a sovereign God who provides for His creation. Some believe abortion is a viable alternative to bringing an unwanted child into the world; others believe it’s murder.

Let’s face it: Both sides can’t be right. And because of my faith, I vote my conscience. And I’m convinced I’m on the right side.

But how should I handle those who believe differently than I do? Is it my job to convince the other side they’re wrong? Is it my job to hate and malign people who fight for what I abhor? Or should I obey the Savior I think I’m fighting for? “Love you enemies.” That was Jesus’ command. In What’s so Amazing about Grace?, Phillip Yancey says, “Who is my enemy? The abortionist? The Hollywood producer polluting our culture? The politician threatening my moral principles? The drug lord ruling my inner city? If my activism, however well-motivated, drives out love, then I have misunderstood Jesus’ gospel. I am stuck with law, not the gospel of grace… Jesus declared that we should have one distinguishing mark: not political correctness or moral superiority, but love.”

Does that hit you the way it hit me? Because I have not always loved my enemies. I have maligned them. I have not just voted against them—with my ballot and my wallet—but I have allowed myself at times to be filled with venom toward those people, the ones who want to kill babies and lead young people astray. I have spewed vitriolic insults toward them. I confess, I have hated them.

But Jesus tells me to love them. They are lost, and yes, they are wrong, and yes, they have a lot of power. So I will continue to work against them, but I will try my best to love them. Because even that guy—the one you’re thinking about right now, the one who represents to you the epitome of evil and sin in society—even he is a child of God. Loved and desperate for redemption.

So I pledge today to not hate my enemies but to love and pray for them. And always to vote.DSC_8915-25ed

How about you? Have you ever found yourself hating your political enemies?

Do you find it difficult to think about loving them?

Robin Patchen lives in Edmond, Oklahoma, with her husband and three teenagers. She is the author of two books, Faith House and One Christmas Eve, both Christmas stories. Read excerpts and find out more at her website.

 
5 Comments

Posted by on November 5, 2014 in Robin Patchen, Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , ,

Grace for your Children

graceWe’ve talked about grace for almost all the people in our lives—the unsaved, the church, our friends, and our spouses. But now we come to the dearest—and most difficult—of all. Our children.

I have two teenagers and a twelve-year-old I keep praying won’t hit puberty for four years. Because I don’t know a whole lot, but I know I can’t handle three teenagers in my house. Frankly, I can’t handle the two I have.

Why is it so difficult? They don’t look very different than they did a few years ago, back before they thought I was a nitwit. They’re taller, they’re more grown-up, but they still have those same beautiful faces they did back then, albeit with a bit more acne to spice them up. And the braces. But it’s the attitude. The rolling eyes. The smirks. The whatevers and I knows that define these years.

It’s nice to look back on the golden years of parenting, when they were too small to talk—and they woke up every few hours and cried all the time. Fast forward to when they were older and were potty trained and could feed themselves—and say NO! without a second thought. Then a few more years down the road, when they could put on their own shoes and buckle their own seatbelts. Not to mention make each other cry with words and pinches and punches.

Maybe the golden years of parenting are right around the corner. Maybe they don’t exist.

All I know is this: I had a plan for my kids, and this wasn’t it.

I pictured my sons playing baseball in the front yard. Instead I have a skateboarder and a video game champion. I pictured my daughter in bright pink bows–until her arms were long enough to reach her head. That was the end of the bows.

I remember when they were little. One morning at church, I watched another family walking into the lobby, their kids all color-coordinated and perfectly behaved.

And there were my kids, my sons wrestling each other. My daughter lifting her dress over her head to show our friends her Dora the Explorer underpants.

I wanted to slink away and hide.

I’ll never forget my chat with that perfect mom. “You’ve really got your kids under control,” I said. “How do you do it?”

“I had to spank the oldest three times before he stopped ripping the tie off, and my daughter refused to wear her shoes.”

I looked and sure enough, the child was shoeless. In church. And I felt a little less alone.

Our children. They embarrass us, they frustrate us, they break our hearts.

They came with minds of their own, and sometimes, they simply won’t do what we say. Or go where we go. Or believe what we believe.

Sometimes, they make poor choices. Terrifying, destructive, or dangerous choices. From climbing too high in a tree to experimenting with drugs and alcohol, sometimes, they do just what we tell them not to do. And do you know why?

They’re human.

Then they reach a certain age, and there’s little you can do to stop them. All you can do is tell them you love them, trust God, and pray like a madwoman.

Some days, it’s sheer torture.

You remember your babies with those tiny round faces, those big adoring eyes, and how they seemed to ask with every blink, “Do you love me?”

Their faces aren’t so small now, and their eyes aren’t so adoring, but they’re still asking the same question. “Look what I’ve done now, Mom. Do you still love me?”

No matter what they’ve done, no matter how far they’ve strayed, no matter how they’ve broken your heart, you faithfully respond, “Yes, child. I will always love you.”

That is grace.

~Robin Patchen

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 23, 2014 in devotion, Robin Patchen

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Grace for your Spouse

grace

Ah, the family. When it’s your parents or siblings driving you crazy, you can roll your eyes and walk away. You didn’t pick your relatives. But what happens when it’s your spouse?

When people first get engaged, their joy is like high beams on an approaching car. Unsuspecting folks have to squint and shield their eyes. Those young couples don’t need grace. They’re walking around thinking, I picked him and he picked me! Aren’t we lucky?

Fast forward a few years down the road, and things are a little different. He looks at her spreading hips and winces at her nagging tone. She can barely get her arms around his Santa-sized belly and ducks from the toxic scents his body emits after a bowl of ice cream. And they look at each other and think, I picked you?

And suddenly, grace matters.

And it’s not funny, not really. It’s certainly not funny when she needs a gentle word and he gripes about the dirty floors. It’s not funny when he needs a peaceful evening and she spends two hours complaining that he doesn’t help out enough.

She cooks a meal and doesn’t get a thank-you.

He reaches for her in bed and gets nothing but the cold shoulder.

They used to go on dates and talk about the future. Now their only outing is the super market, her with a list, him with a calculator.

When did it get so hard? And what’s to be done about it?

While we wrestle with these issues in our homes and in our hearts, there’s another factor at play. Because while our parents and our siblings are associated with us, they don’t reflect on us the way our spouse does. Yes, we picked this person. And yes, he or she is not perfect. So far from perfect, it’s scary. It’s not just that we’re frustrated about the behavior. Sometimes, we’re embarrassed by it.

Please don’t say that. Someone might hear you.

Please don’t wear that. Someone might see you.

I’ve talked a lot about grace in the last few weeks. We covered grace for the unsaved, grace for the church, and grace for your friends. Truth is, we are called to extend grace to all those folks, but we have options there, don’t we? We can avoid the unsaved, change churches, and drop friends. What do you do when the person who hurts you, the person who takes you for granted, is your own spouse?

Every family is different, and every situation is unique, so I’m not going to act as pastor or even trusted mentor. If things are bad, seek help from a counselor. If things are dangerous, go to a safe place. (It is not God’s will for you to stay in a dangerous situation.) If things are simply imperfect—well, that’s life. And sometimes, life is hard. Seek God, seek the counsel of someone you trust. Unfortunately, aside from praying like crazy and doing your best to be obedient to God’s calling on your life, there’s very little you can do to affect someone else’s behavior.

Well, there is one more thing. You can choose to love your spouse. Every day, every minute, even at his ugliest, you can love him.

There’s a Scripture passage that speaks to this subject. You’ll recognize it. You might even remember it from your own wedding. First Corinthians 13:4-7 (ESV) says:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

I like that part in the middle—“It keeps no record of wrongs.” The Message versions says that love, “Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others.”

Do you know what it’s like to live with someone who keeps score of your sins? More importantly, do those who live with you know what that’s like?

Keeping a record of sins—holding a grudge—that’s not love. That’s not grace. Sometimes, grace is forgiving the same sins, over and over. Sometimes, grace is being honest with your spouse about how you feel, and sometimes, grace is letting the little things go. Grace is loving your spouse even when he embarrasses you. Even when she hurts you. Even when he takes you for granted.

Grace matters in a marriage. In fact, I would go so far as to say, the longer you’re married, the more grace matters.

If you struggle with extending grace to your spouse, you might remember this prayer:

Lord, today, help me to give as much grace to my spouse as you give to me.

That’s a lot of grace.

One of my favorite, practical books on grace is Families Where Grace is in Place by Jeff VanVonderen. I highly recommend it for your family.

~Robin Patchen

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 9, 2014 in devotion, Robin Patchen

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Grace for your Friends

graceYou know that friend, the one you know everything about? The one who has the same problems for weeks, months, years on end and never does anything about them? Yeah, that one. My best friend has a friend like that: me. Here’s a snippet of a conversation you might overhear if you eavesdrop on our lunch conversation:

Friend: How’s your writing going?

Me: Ugh. Haven’t written a word in months. What I really need to do is start my writing first thing every day, and do everything else after that. I need to make it a priority.

Friend: Yeah, that would probably work.

Six months later:

Friend: How’s your writing going?

Me: Ugh. Haven’t written a word in almost a year. What I really need to do . . .

It’s like an endless loop of stupidity! And it’s not just me. Here’s a conversation where my friend perches (she never sits—no time) on the hot seat.

Friend: I’m so busy, I didn’t have time to eat yesterday. I’ve gotten myself involved in too many projects, and I have no idea how I’ll ever finish—[Phone rings. She answers.] President of the club? Run the meetings? Teach a couple more classes? Sure, I’d love to. [Hangs up the phone.] Where was I?

I admit it. Sometimes, I want to roll my eyes. And I’m sure she stifled an eye roll or two herself. My best friend and I have been having conversations like the ones above for years. The problems change, but the way we handle them doesn’t, not much. So why do we put up with each other?

Well, the best thing about friends is that we know them so well. We know their good qualities and their bad, their hopes and their fears, the loves and their hates.

And the worst thing about friends—we know them so well: the good, the bad…the hopes and fears…the loves and hates. Yeah, that’s the thing. And sometimes, their issues can get old. I know sometimes I get tired of hearing myself whining about the same things. How must my friend feel?

So what do we do when our friends drive us crazy, do things we can tell from a mile away are aren’t going to work, and then do those same things, over and over again? We could drop them—plenty of people make that choice, and sometimes, it’s the right choice. But sometimes, when people are stuck in a difficult loop, when those friends need friends more than ever, we should remember that we have issues of our own, and we should offer our friends grace.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 26, 2014 in devotion, Robin Patchen

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Grace for the Church

graceYou know that woman, the one at church who serves on every committee and attends ladies bible studies faithfully? The one who, with just the quirk of an eyebrow, will dish up the latest gossip faster than her own delicious apple pie. And what about that man, the deacon who never misses a Sunday, who serves as an usher—and cheats on his taxes. What about that teenager, the one who lifts his hands during worship, whom you saw in a not-so-innocent embrace with his girlfriend. You know the kinds of people I’m talking about. The church is filled with them. And we have words for them, don’t we? Gossip. Cheater. Immoral. Hypocrite.

I have another word I’d like to suggest for those people: Human.

Today, we’re going to talk about grace for the church. Not just your own small community of believers, but the church as a whole, the followers of Jesus Christ who are saved, redeemed, justified, and reconciled, but who still have the unmitigated gall to sin, anyway.

Why do we do it, we believers who should know better? I’d like to suggest just a few reasons. Maybe those folks are:

Immature: Not all believers are mature in Christ. 1 Peter 2:2. “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation.” The idea that we need to grow up into salvation tell us that some of us have done more growing up than others. Some newborn believers have recently come to the faith. Others might have been Christians a long time, but for whatever reason have not craved that pure spiritual milk, and so have not matured as quickly. As babies, believers can still hold on to addictions from their previous lives. They can be selfish, ungrateful, and angry. They can also be judgmental and foolish. But do you judge your infant for not eating solid food? Do you look at your two-year-old and say, “Act your age”? If you did, she might just respond with a chubby-cheeked, “I am.” Babies are babies and need to be loved, nourished, and protected. The same is true for spiritual babies who don’t yet understand the things you do. They need help, not judgment. They need grace.

Experiencing a moment of weakness: God called David a man after His own heart, and yet David fell into grievous sin when he brought Bathsheba into the palace. Nathan confronted him, and rightly so, and God took the child who was the product of that sin. You may be called to be the Nathan to someone, in which case, I recommend you study Matthew 18:15-17, which will counsel you as to how to confront that person in his sin. If you are not called to be the prophet in that person’s life, then pray for him and offer him grace.

Walking through a time of testing: I went through a period of depression a few years ago that was like nothing I’d ever experienced. I questioned my faith, my salvation, and my worth. I avoided church like a sick child who closes his mouth to the very medicine that would heal him. My thoughts were always turned inward, examining and finding myself wanting. I didn’t serve—didn’t feel I had anything to offer. To the outsider, I was self-absorbed and aloof. And yet, I was struggling like I’d never struggled before. People who are struggling with their faith often sin, and they need support and prayers, not judgment. They need grace.

Not saved: Matthew 7 tells us that there will be people who, when they face Christ at the end of their lives, will be surprised when Jesus turns away with the words, “I never knew you.” I wonder how many people sitting on the pew with me are in that crowd. How many of those people do I silently judge, wondering why they don’t behave better? Fact is, unbelievers can’t behave better. They don’t have the indwelling Holy Spirit to guide their actions. It’s hard enough for Christians to stop sinning; it’s impossible for the lost. Do they need your judgment? If you’re not sure about this one, check out my last post, Grace for the Lost. The lost are not saved by haughty looks and turned up noses. They are saved when people look past their sins and tell them about Christ. They are saved when someone extends them grace.

Yes, you will encounter sinners at church, people who have not yet learned the lessons you’ve learned, and people who have forgotten what they used to know. Teach them, guide then, pray for them, and love them. If you feel led to, gently point out the truth in response to their behavior. Keep in mind that, though you may feel strong right now, there will come a day when you will be the one going through the time of testing or the moment of weakness. It’s possible that you, too, have some maturing to do. So give your fellow believers a break. Like God does for you, offer them grace.

~Robin Patchen

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 12, 2014 in devotion, Robin Patchen

 

Tags: , , , , , ,