The Write Place- Curtis Bruce Kessler

August 25, 2017

Works and Grace

Filed under: Uncategorized — Curtis Bruce Kessler @ 3:44 am

me and dad

I had a special and unique relationship with my dad. It was a mixture of works and grace. A healthy balance. I was never confused between these two core essentials. I always knew he loved me, cared for me very deeply, would do anything for me. I also knew and was raised with a spiritual work ethic. I was expected to work, to grow. There was a non-verbal understanding that as I grew more mature that more was expected of me. Yet, my dad loved me unconditionally. He would forgive me in my worst moments. He acted with compassion when I was expecting severe punishment.

You would think I was describing a perfect man. But, no. Dad was not perfect by any stretch. Time will not suffice to write all my faults and his, yet, what he did perfectly was underscore the importance and healthy balance of works and grace.

In a nut-shell this is the principle lived and experienced in Jesus Christ, works and grace.
But for some reason while threads of these truths are evidenced all around us they are difficult to reconcile from a personal level. Notice why.

Point 1.
Ephesians 2:4 “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.”

By grace we have been saved. God alone acted out of love to sacrifice his Son. Not by our works or because of our works. Just the opposite. We contribute nothing to the purchase of our salvation. Romans 4:4 “Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt.”

All we can do is accept his amazing gift.

Point 2.
James 2:14 “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?” Concluding in verse 26 “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” In Acts 20 “but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance.”

Faith is in the heart, unseen. Works is the outward, seen. Works are the natural result of faith and conviction of Jesus Christ. Without the testimony of works, faith is dead.

Yet, it seems we struggle with finding a healthy spiritual balance.

We take Point 2 (works) and beat it to death to the point where we start living as if we can work our way into heaven. I remember growing up and hearing one sermon after the other (well-intention) just whipping us into a frenzy over obey, obey, work, work, it’s curtains if you don’t, you will be ground to dust. The effect was a life of uncertainty and insecurity.

Or we take Point 1 (grace) once saved always saved. It’s a breeze. Once you’re in, you are in. All we need to do is bask in His grace. Love, love, love., rah, rah, rah, groovy. An endless foray of love. But just preaching grace only is also a slippery slope and can make you feel all cozy, too cozy.

Where do we go? How to reconcile and stay away from both extremes?

2 Peter 1:5-11 starts us on the right path.

” For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. 11 For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

A few quick thoughts here-
For this reason…our response is from God’s act of love.
Don’t forget what Christ did for you.
Be motivated. Eternity matters.
Look what God will do.

A few questions you need to ask and answer to help you find a balance between works and grace:

Are you trying to earn your way into heaven?

Are you living a life that honors Christ?
Do you take sin seriously?
I believe repentance is…
The difference between grace and works is…

Finding that healthy balance between grace and works is essential.

Kess

 

 

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August 24, 2017

Luminosity

Filed under: Uncategorized — Curtis Bruce Kessler @ 2:51 am

Related image

From his advantage point the sky is always clear.  That said there are those rare occasions when strange events take place. When light bends and curves, when dust particles bounce around him then slowly settles. Unperturbed and undisturbed he waits. Generally speaking he is unmoved by these brief singularities.

His attention is focused on something far more important.

His eye is always drawn towards that blue diamond above.  Radiant, beaming, inviting, beckoning.  For since a millennia  he has contemplated this unparalleled beauty. Beyond the horizon this perpetual glory remains a source of light and promise. A constant companion.

Awe-inspiring this bright angular wonder!

Peering through the great gulf towards the gleaming jewel he swells in rapture.  A powerful stirring of something wondrous. He waits. Yearning.

One may think his condition is quite sad or unbearable. Yet, he knows he has the best seat in the universe. He is blessed.

Nudged within the continental area covered by precious snow-like thin dust. Made of composites of silicates, nitrogen, and titanium he is unmoved. Unfazed by time. Luminous.

His eye never wavers from that blue diamond in the sky.

 

 

August 22, 2017

Faith That Defies Logic

Filed under: Uncategorized — Curtis Bruce Kessler @ 3:18 am
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Dad and I

I was a young boy who lived in the best little town in the south, Rincon, Georgia.  Rincon was a bedroom community of Savannah, Georgia.  Tall majestic pines swung in the southern breeze, massive oaks decorated by moss completed the scenery. I never feared walking the town or playing late at night.  It was just my dad and my family.  The world was ours.

One particular day my dad and I were walking with my uncle Allen and my best friend Wayne (cousin, I had one on every block).  The Rincon branch flowed through the town and along the property of my uncle William.  The water reminded me of the color of tea: however, you could still see clear to the bottom easily seeing the minnows and crawdads.  Lots of children played in this area. A pool had formed naturally at this spot.  This day the branch had swelled as we were graced earlier with a rain shower.

Wayne and I were poking around the branch, throwing rocks, watching them skip.  Without explanation and warning, we were instructed to strip down to our skimpies and cross the rapid stream.

I was downright puzzled.  This seemed to defy logic, at least from a boy’s perspective.  I was perfectly happy in my dry clothes.  I didn’t outwardly question my dad’s sanity.  But, we did as we were told.  Into the swirling water we went and traversed to the other side by using an old gas line for stability.  We were met on the other side with our dry clothes.  Nothing was ever said again.

I think about day often.  Never questioned my dad as to why this ever happened.  If someone had passed by and asked me why I was crossing a branch in my skivvies, my answer would surely been met with bewilderment and scorn.  After all, it defied logic.  But I loved my dad, trusted him, knew he had my best intentions in mind, even if it meant getting down to my skivvies.

I think about how the simple message of the cross is so perplexing and stunning.  We just cannot grasp the particulars and fit them all in an easy bag of logic.

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” 1 Co.1:18

God’s logic is perplexing.

“But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty;and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not..”

Why would God move in this way?

“….to bring to nothing the things that are,that no flesh should glory in His presence.”         1 Cor.1:27-28

Faith is rooted in the cross.  What appears to the world as illogical or a lapse of logic, is in fact the difference between life and death.

“For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.”              1 Cor.1:21

Let’s bring this full circle.

“But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption—that, as it is written, “HE WHO GLORIES, LET HIM GLORY IN THE LORD.” 1 Co.1:30-31

Don’t listen to the noise around you.

God’s intentions for you are demonstrated on the cross.  No, he isn’t asking you to do something off the wall, but, do you trust Him?  Do you trust His judgment in the area of eternity? Defy worldly logic and defy your many doubts. God provides the wisdom needed to overcome the world- Jesus Christ.

Kess

 

Freedom and Liberty

Filed under: Uncategorized — Curtis Bruce Kessler @ 3:03 am
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 austria

In 1730 my relatives lived under the shadow of the majestic mountains surrounding Salzburg, Austria.  Under great persecution at that time by the Catholic church for their religious beliefs they heard of a new world, a place to worship freely, a place to be free of the burden of brutality and  oppression.

So they acted.

Leaving behind their homeland, leaving the splendid hills decorated with yellow and blue wild flowers, imposing yet beautiful mountains, streams of pure water, tall majestic pines, and villages.

They would leave all this behind.

My wife and I were privileged to travel to Salzburg recently.  Walked down the same roads my early descendants traveled. I viewed the same amazing hills and mountains they woke up to every morning and that has captured the hearts of many in the movie/musical The Sound of Music. 

I had to ask myself what is the price of freedom?  What is life worth when you are given an opportunity to live?  I wondered to myself, how daunting the task must have been to leave behind familiar things!  How daunting and oh my the cost of giving up everything in order to gain freedom based on a message that promised genuine liberty!

Yet, based on that glorious message they acted.

I was deeply moved to reflect on the liberty and the religious freedom I enjoy today.  I had to ask myself what cost have I had to endure for this privilege?   What price have I paid to gain this freedom?  What would I be willing to give up? Everything that is familiar to me?  Would I be willing to leave behind the comforts of home? How valuable is freedom to me?  How valuable is truth to me?

Yet, above all, this is precisely the struggle and cause of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The glorious message of the cross is that “…God demonstrated His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. Much more then, having been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him” Romans 5:8-9.  Just as importantly Jesus says “If anyone desires to come to me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” Matthew 16:24,26.

Freedom and life is the Gospel message.  But.

How far are you willing to go to accept this gift? Your life? Your home? Your comfort zone?

Am i really prepared to act and take up His cross and follow Him? Through oceans, meadows, mountains, countries, villages, states, counties, leaving behind one life to gain Christ?

Are you?

August 16, 2015

Protected: I Am Luke

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August 4, 2015

Cecil Am I

Filed under: Uncategorized — Curtis Bruce Kessler @ 2:57 pm
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Lion-004

Cecil was majestic and beautiful.  He was of a kingly nature.  In many ways he was both courageous and innocent.  He had a keen sense.  Surrounded by nature and a vast wilderness he had so much potential.   Though at peace with nature there was something undefinable, something beyond that caused in him great stress.  The struggle for survival defined him and gave him purpose.  Yet, here on the precipice of greatness, to roar, to live, to fulfil his destiny, the attack came with extreme brutality.

Cruel and void of reason; the attacker was vicious.  Cecil could not escape his ultimate confinement and faced a resilient foe.

The weapon had penetrated and was fatal.  Unimaginable pain coursed his body.  He tried crying out but managed only to gape in silence.   Death would not come for an agonizing 10 minutes.  Tears dropped as he struggled valiantly against the sharp cold blade that pierced his neck.  The attacker was resolute.  No pity, just business after all.  Trophy secured. Cecil succumbed to the ravages of partial term abortion.

Kess

July 29, 2015

In the Blink of an Eye

Filed under: Uncategorized — Curtis Bruce Kessler @ 3:00 am
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“The morning was turning out to be a real special day for hunting. The previous day the veteran (Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class) had canvased the area and found good evidence of deer.   He stood taking in the sight before him. The gentle wave of tall Savannah pines caressed by the coastal breeze, the morning sun causing the Georgia morning dew to sparkle like diamonds, and splendid oaks decorated by moss dangling like ornaments on a Christmas tree.   Indeed, a day of days.

He glanced over at the teenager. Why he had established a unique relationship with this skinny troubled youngster was beyond him. Yet, he had felt something. Intuitively he understood that the teen needed help and well, that was that. After an internal debate the veteran had given the teenager his granddad’s double-barrel shotgun to use for this hunt. For self-preservation and for general training he went through all the safety features he could recall.

One thing- the shotgun had a tricky trigger and no safety.

He had impressed upon the boy the proper position of the trigger finger as well as pointing the gun towards the ground at all times. They closed in on the area where he had scouted the day before. The teenager followed close behind. He turned to motion to the teen.

Boom!

The young teen stood dazed and confused. Horror and shock took over. Smoke billowed from both barrels of the shotgun. The shot echoed majestically through the still forest. He dared not look up. The one person whom he looked up to more than anyone had surely taken the full brunt of the blast.

In the blink of an eye everything changed.

What was a great day was now a real tragedy. He had to look. But he didn’t see the twisted bloodied body of his friend. There standing before him was the veteran alive and well, with hands on hips, with eyes that were both furious and merciful. No words were spoken. The stare was more than enough. Without a word they walked out of the forest and went to eat breakfast.”

I recall this day many times. I was the teenager and my cousin Noel was the veteran (active duty rank was Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class and his Army Reserve rank was Buck Sergeant).   More times than not tragedy is the outcome of such hunting accidents. In the blink of an eye life can turn. That day God’s providence offered the gift of life. Such a gift makes you appreciate every ounce of every day.

Here is something to consider. One day, in the blink of an eye all life will take a turn. Notice in 1 Corinthians 15: 51-52, “Listen, I will tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a moment, in the blinking of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.”

In less time it takes you to blink is how quickly your life will change.

In that climatic instant you will be resurrected. Thus the writer describes this fantastic moment in verse 54, “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” The statement in verse 57 is critical and cannot be overlooked. “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” This moment of being raised imperishable will only come through Jesus Christ.

One day, in the blink of an eye your life will turn, you will be changed. That day will be final. There will be no second chance. You will be raised imperishable or perishable. Are you prepared?

Kess

April 24, 2013

I Love You with All My Son

Filed under: Uncategorized — Curtis Bruce Kessler @ 3:46 am
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son

The mother tucked her son in for the night.  Their nighttime routine was as regular as clock work or so the mom thought.  Together they would say their bedtime prayer.  Mom would be first then her son would follow.  She was always eager to hear his prayer.  His prayer was always new and refreshing.  She would teasingly pinch his toe and then his nose.  His smile would brighten her heart and instantly life would be as right as rain. She would always say, “Son, I love you with all my heart.”  With that pronouncement their nightly routine would end with a huge hug, you know, one of those hugs we all need and treasure.

Then one night this routine was shattered in a most spectacular way.

The night began routinely enough.  The mother tucked in her son; they prayed, she pinched his toes and nose and then he gave her his world winning smile. Yet when she was about to say, “Son, I love you with all my heart” he reached up with his hand to silence her.  Time stopped.  Routine was shattered.  His smile was broader than ever before and his eyes, oh his eyes, radiated a light so full of innocence that she felt as if she were caught up in a massive black-hole pulling her into a world of pure love. She was enraptured. Then gesturing to his entire possession of toys said, “Mom, I love YOU with all my toys.”

The chords of her heart were stroked and in that single moment of clarity she knew what genuine love must be like in Heaven.

The story that I have revealed is true. A wonderful moment of love shared between mother and son.  Love shakes us, molds us, connects us, shapes us, motivates us, challenges us, moves us, strengthens us, confounds us, and dares us.  These precious love moments are but a reflection of a bigger purpose and spiritual force.  They serve as windows begging our attention to perceive the true source of genuine love. From that pure source love springs and never runs dry, is limitless in mercy, looks beyond faults, strikes the chords of our heart, and is always true.

God is love.

The mother’s son conveyed a type of love we yearn for every day; to love one another with the entirety of who we are and all that we have. Sadly, we miss the mark here. But, this is exactly the love God demonstrated so perfectly in the life and death of His Son Jesus ChristRomans 5:8 “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” 1 John 4:9 “In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

You may have failed in so many ways.  You may have lost countless opportunities to love.  Perhaps all you’ve done lately is be a negative, critical, unforgiving, and hateful person.

Today, God says to you and to a needy world, “I Love You with All My Son!”

The love of Christ is as powerful as any black-hole.  His love is an event that is life-changing. This dynamic love is tugging on your heart every day. The question is will you allow your heart to be pulled in and be embraced by His Amazing Grace?  Only then will you be able to experience and share a love “that passes all understanding.”

Bruce

Hidden in the Shadows

Filed under: Uncategorized — Curtis Bruce Kessler @ 2:59 am
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shadows

Late at night as the wind howls outside my window and the moon casts bizarre images on the bedroom walls, I detect furtive movement out of the corner of my eye.  Each time I try to focus on the movement the image mockingly disappears into the shadows.  I was a young boy at the time and I imagined something terrible was hidden in those shadows. Night terrors were what my dad called them but I thought differently.

One night my dad rented a room at a spooky looking hotel.  We had traveled a long way from Houston, TX headed home to Rincon, GA so dad was exhausted and needed rest.  All I wanted was to get to that wonderful place called home and more to the point I sensed or rather imagined that there was something creepy about the motel. I couldn’t come up with any legitimate reason why we shouldn’t spend the night.  How could a young boy explain to his dad a fear that sounded crazy and far-fetched? I hid under the covers praying that my fears were unwarranted. However, the light emanating from the bathroom suggested otherwise.  The light appeared strange; rather than being warm and natural, the tone had an unnatural quality purposely concealing a clandestine operation.

Sleep eluded me.

Soon after dad was fast asleep I sensed a presence next to my side of the bed.  I dared not take a look. I waited. My heart pounded in my chest.  For what seemed like an eternity nothing happened then I felt ice-cold boney hands ease under my body.  The clandestine operation revealed!  I knew without a doubt that my life depended on crying out.  With all my strength “Dad!” then within seconds his loving arms were embracing me, protecting me, and pulling me to safety.

The shadows retreated.

There are powerful events that we experience in childhood that affect us both mentally and spiritually. Divorce is one of those jarring events.  I don’t believe parents are neither fully aware of the drama of divorce nor fully conscious of the war that rages within the minds of innocent children.  Children are left with unanswered questions.  What was once a home (even a fractured one) is instantly gone.  We feel abandoned.  We have difficulty expressing our bewilderment and pain.

You can be sure that whatever the cause for divorce, children are at risk!

Satan lurks to use these events as opportunities to create as much chaos as possible.  This is one reason why Jesus warned, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.” John 10:10.  Satan wants to debase all that is good and innocent. There are many children of divorce parents who are hurting; a deep ache exists, a forever scar.  Be mindful of the reality of this even in cases where the divorce was legitimate. Many are now adults who are still haunted by memories hidden in the shadows of the past.

One night long ago my dad embraced me and pulled me to safety.  He was there for me. He was my hero. Yet, my dad did something even better. He taught me that God was the only one able to heal my broken heart, to give me peace over troubled waters, to give me power over fear, and to empower me to live a life of meaning and purpose.  Are you hurting?  God will heal you.  What is hidden in the shadows that have you in the grips of fear and anxiety? God is here for you. His Grace will enable you to experience a victorious life!

“He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler.” Psalm 91:4.

Bruce

January 24, 2013

The Look

Filed under: Uncategorized — Curtis Bruce Kessler @ 11:59 am
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eyesI could never escape “The Look”. Wordless, timeless; a defining moment filled with meaning, conviction, purpose, hope, and love. The Look has all this and more.  I can get away with a lot of things but The Look transfixes me, anchors me, and grounds me.

The Look forces me to see the truth of things like no other.

We all come across a similar Look in the faces of those we love, those we respect, or people in position of authority like teachers or policemen.  I remember as a teenager in church one Sunday the guest speaker was anything but interesting or lively.  I decided to take matters into my own hand.  So, I began to write notes or use my index finger and middle finger pretending to be a person running a mad race over books, knees, and anything else.  We began giggling and soon my dad was standing next to the pew giving me the Look.  Red faced, I wanted to disappear.

Wives are famous in their art of simulating The Look.  Husbands are caught flat-footed many times and are frozen in mid-sentence with that magical Look from their lovely wives.  Parents have this art as well.  Just argue with your parents kids and the Look will quickly surface with amazing results.

However, all such Looks pale by comparison to The Look that stirs the heart of our soul. Who has The Look that causes such drama?  Jesus Christ!

Consider Peter whom Jesus specifically picked out to be an apostle.  Peter was excitable, strong willed, emotional, brazen, bold, and courageous.  But Jesus knew that Satan wanted to sift Peter like wheat.  The Devil had inside knowledge (as he does with all of us) that the outwardly strong Peter had a weakness of the heart.  Jesus prayed for the battle ahead, “But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to me, strengthen your brethren.” Lk.22:32.

Based on Peter’s own rash statement Jesus predicted he would fall away.  Peter subsequently became filled with pride, cussing, lying, and denying Jesus Christ. Sound like anyone you know?

Then the most important moment in Peter’s life occurred.  “…Immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” So Peter went out and wept bitterly. Lk.22:60-62.

The Look from Jesus was a monumental shift for Peter.  Peter, who had wept so bitterly, would later write in 2 Peter 1:1 “Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.”  He was once a rebel but now a servant.  What was once lost was now found in the righteousness of Jesus Christ.

The message of the cross cuts through the riff-raff and looks right into the heart of your soul. Jesus died to address your heart problem. God has always been interested in your heart.  1 Samuel 16:7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Breathtaking and pivotal is The Look from Jesus Christ.

He is Looking at you through the Gospel message of Saving Grace. His love probes and stirs your heart.  Just as Noah found “favor in the eyes of God” so can you. You may feel far from help but salvation is only a Look away.  Will today be the life-changing moment for you?

Bruce

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