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?

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