Some people are just, simply … attractive! (What is Grace?)

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“You think I’m gorgeous, you want to kiss me, you want to hug me… and you want to marry me” , Gracie Hart, Miss Congeniality 2000

Some people are just, simply … attractive: Admit it, there are people who are good looking, or have sparkling personalities and we just like to look at them and hang around those people. These are the type of people who were the teacher’s pets. They were first to get party invites and dates to formals!

Did you know that the word ‘grace’ originates from the idea of beauty and attractiveness? A person can even look ‘graceful’: meaning they are good looking in an unassuming and attractive way. The word also implies that when someone is exhibiting ‘grace’: they are demonstrating a benevolence to others, who may not be able to return the good deed. Music even has ‘grace notes’– pretty little accents placed in music scores that may not have much to do with the melody, except that they sound really good. Grace notes, by definition, cannot have any value in adding up the beats in a bar.

The ‘Charites’Screen Shot 2014-09-02 at 11.31.44 pm: The ancient Greek world had a goddess of grace: ‘Charis’. She had two friends who together were called The ‘Charites’, who, how can we put it nicely; didn’t do much at all, except dance around, laugh and look pretty.

New Testament Grace: This is pretty much the context, in which the New Testament word ‘grace’, was introduced to Christianity.   The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia states it well:  ‘the word has abundant use in secular Greek in the sense of unmerited favor, and Paul seized on this meaning of the word to express a fundamental characteristic of Christianity …’

Why go to the trouble of explaining the word ‘grace’?

Grace is such a foundational concept that understanding it is virtually essential for victorious Christian life and sound doctrine. Sometimes people like to have their own special ‘revelation’ about what a word means. Sometimes we can all get a little loose and lazy. This can lead to misunderstandings and miss-rendering of scriptures.

Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace:’ Hebrews 13:9

‘(the Gospel) is constantly bearing fruit … in you since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth’. Colossians 1:6

In the New Testament, grace refers to: i. the favourable disposition of God to man, apart from any merit on man’s behalf and,. ii. the spiritual and physical blessings that are freely bestowed to Christians, purely on the basis of God’s favourable disposition to us.

A neat summation of New Testament grace would be: ‘The unmerited and freely bestowed virtue and affection of God toward mankind, as expressed in Christian salvation, life and ministry.’

It’s not hard to see how the New Testament word for grace grew out of the common word. Isn’t it good to know that God finds us so attractive, that all the goodness, gifts and blessings of God are known as ‘graces’: freely bestowed on us out of His grace.  We can’t earn his favour, his gifts and power towards us: they are all freely given. To paraphrase Gracie Hart in Miss Congeniality: “I think he loves us.”

How to talk proper! (9 tips to help with public speaking)

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“Anything you say should be understood by an eight-year-old.”
(extracted from: SMH 2 Sept 2014)
 

1. Talking about yourself:  A small amount of personal detail encourages listeners to feel a connection, but a large amount just bores them to tears.

2. Be calm (!): A lack of confidence is easily spotted and unfortunately this can be interpreted as sign of untrustworthiness, … Practise is the key to perfection, … Nervous speakers need to rehearse what they plan to say and preferably, in front of a volunteer family member or friend.

3. Keep it simple: Getting bogged down in the detail is a common mistake for novice speakers. You have lots of information you want to impart, but the truth is, much of it just isn’t necessary. “Don’t tell me what I don’t need to know,” …. “Not everything needs to be explained in its full complexity.”

4. Build rapport: It’s important to build common ground to establish a rapport with your listeners, says …“Put business to the side for a moment and talk about subjects that are interesting in life,”

5. Avoid Waffling: Get to the point! Off-topic rambling and drawn-out analogies only serve to annoy audiences.

6. Ask for action: What do you want your listeners to do after you have finished talking? … Whatever your request, make sure you let your listeners know what you want them to do.

7. Know the audience: Who are you talking to and what do they want? This information will help you tailor your speech and ease any nerves. Knowing your audience also makes it easier to target their needs.

8. Vary Tone and Pace: A speaker who drones on in the same tone and pace is likely to send their listeners to sleep. To animate your talking and keep your audience engaged, try to control your voice and vary your tone and pace.

9. Avoid Jargon: Is your vocab littered with jargon no one understands? Simplify it or risk losing your listeners.

(Sydney Morning Herald 2 Sept 2014)

Being heard in the ‘market place’.

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‘When we share the Gospel, is all that is heard just BLAH BLAH, jargon, BLAH?’

Why do so many top shelf businesses begin to fail in their ‘third generation’ of leadership. Think of Kodak, Microsoft and (mercy) let’s hope not Apple! One of the main reasons is that strong businesses tend to develop a unique culture which, over time, becomes further and further removed from their market. A key factor in culture is our spoken language and semiotics (signs & symbols). In the case of businesses that have developed an isolated culture;  they may believe they are communicating one thing, but the audience is hearing something very different. Or worse, their market is saying something, but the business is hearing something very different.
Sandwich Board

I grew up in a great Christian denomination that had impacted the world in a wonderful way. Over the decades much of the language, signs and symbols of my denomination had remained the same, however, contemporary culture had moved on. So, in effect, we thought we were saying one thing, but the world who really needed to hear our message, was hearing something very different.

Could it be that much of the Church thinks it is communicating the Gospel, but what is being heard is just BLAH BLAH, BLAH?

Grant Peterson

The fruit of Grace.

Fruit

‘Our fruit is a barometer of what is going on inside of us.’

‘(the Gospel) is constantly bearing fruit … in you since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth’. Colossians 1:6 NASB

I have tasted some bitter fruit before. The fruit can look sweet and ripe but when you start to eat it, the taste causes your face to screw up. No doubt there’s been times in all of our lives when what has come out of our mouths has been bitter as well.

What we say, do and how we treat others is usually the result of a mish-mash of our feelings about ourselves, value judgements we place on others and our core beliefs. Either way, our fruit is a barometer of what is going on inside of us.

The Apostle Paul told the Colossians that the ‘Gospel’ had been bearing fruit in their lives. The Gospel had allowed them to ‘understand the grace of God in truth’ and the fruit was clearly observable:

 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints; because …  the gospel which has come to you, … is constantly bearing fruit … since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth’ (vs 3-8)

I find it interesting that ‘faith and love’ are the result of understanding the grace of God. Understanding the grace of God has a transforming effect in our lives and the resulting fruit is beautiful.

Grant Peterson

Stilling A Troubled Heart

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John 14:1“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.” (NKJB)

The human heart can become troubled. We can become distressed by fears and insecurities. This is not a good condition for our hearts. A lack of peace will cause all kinds of strife and trouble.
In John 14:1, Jesus tells his disciples that the condition of a troubled heart, is one that they don’t have to allow to continue. A troubled heart comes when our current situation seems to overwhelm us and we lose hope for our future and take our attention off of our Saviour.
Jesus told the disciples that they were to trust and rely on him. The cure for a troubled heart is to remind ourselves of the goodness of God. He has a plan and purpose for our lives which he will bring to pass, as we trust and rely on him.
Without an ongoing awareness and reliance on God our hearts revert to being troubled.
However, the peace that comes through an assurance of His presence and purposes for our lives is simply an adjustment of our hearts toward Him.

Strength Through Hope

greenSteps‘The human spirit has been created to be… invigorated by hope.’

31 Then Jesus said to them, “All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written: ‘I will strike the Shepherd, And the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ 32 But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.” Matthew 26:31-32

Of the three enduring qualities that are mentioned in Corinthians 13 – ‘faith, hope and love’; hope is possibly the most undervalued. The Bible word for hope is an ‘expectation of what is sure’.

In the passage above, Jesus uses the power of hope to provide encouragement for the disciples as they faced Jesus’ death. By warning them of the trials ahead, but telling them that there will be a new day in which he will be with them, the disciples were empowered to have hope for the future. No doubt the hope (the expectation of what is sure) of the resurrection empowered  Jesus to face the coming hours of his terrible trial and crucifixion. Isn’t in wonderful, that in the face of death, Jesus not only had hope for himself, but also hope for the disciples.

Hope is an incredible motivator: the human spirit has been created to be instilled with hope and invigorated by hope.

The are many things we hope (the expectation of what is sure) for in the scripture. If we meditate on these things, it will strengthen our hearts. With hope comes joy, peace and comfort in the face of trials.

13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.’ Romans 15:13 (NKJV)

Grant Peterson

(Photo courtesy of ‘Derek Prince Israel’)

Avoiding An Unfulfilled Life

Screen Shot 2014-08-26 at 1.16.55 pm‘Apparently, what God has for each of us is not fulfilled automatically.’

At the end of Colossians (4:17), Paul asks the Colossians to speak to a man by the name of Archippus:

This verse struck me as interesting: to think Paul thought this message was important enough to ask a church to publicly remind one of their members.

Archippus was described by Paul in his letter to Philemon as ‘our fellow soldier’. It would seem that both Paul and Archippus were aware that there was a ministry that God had in mind for Archippus.


Apparently, what God has for each of us is not fulfilled automatically. We can’t assume that just walking through life aimlessly will result in us fulfilling what God has for us. God has given each of us a purpose in life. However, it doesn’t just happen.

For Archippus and for each of us, the call of God requires us to ‘take heed’. We are to pay attention, to care for, to attend to the ministry that God has for us. Paul told Timothy: ‘be sober, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry’. (2 Tim 4:5) If our ministry gift is neglected, we will not be the blessing that God wants us to be.

What happened to Archippus? We don’t know for sure from the Bible, but apparently he listened to Paul’s advice. The Catholic Church recognises him as a Saint and early church literature places him as the first Bishop of Laodicea in Phrygia.

Grant Peterson