Grace

Posts that find “grace at the end of disgrace”.

That awkward moment when you realize you're a PhariseeOver the past couple of weeks, I’ve gone through what I can only describe as a spiritual s***-kicking. Excuse my French, but I can’t come up with any term that describes it better than that.

By nature I’m an extreme introvert, and am wired more to deal with tasks than people. I’m a guy who makes to-do lists. Forecasts. Grocery lists. Budgets. I’m a planner and a control freak. I like all my ducks in a row.

I’ve measured my success by how many items on my lists I’ve been able to check off.

Some days, I’m this annoying boss from The Incredibles:

I’ve gotten so caught up in making sure that I do my daily Bible reading, blog reading, blog writing, praying, etc. that it has become all about the list, and not about people.

When someone asks how my spiritual life is going, I instinctively default to my list of activities. How much am I praying, reading, writing?

Not – how is God using me as an instrument of His grace to others?

“Religion” has become more important than relationship.

Crap. I’ve been a Pharisee.

Don’t get me wrong – praying, reading and writing can be good, and healthy. But not when they become a consuming activity, an item on a checklist, something that actually keeps me from sitting at Jesus’ feet.

As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”

But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” – Luke 10:38-42

Imagine that. In my pursuit for Jesus, I’ve rushed right past him, to-do list in hand.

Jesus, forgive me.

Time for me to throw away the to-do list, and sit at Your feet.

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A Letter to My 18-Year-Old Self

by Larry Hehn on December 12, 2012

writingAt the end of each year, I like to take a few days off, recharge my batteries, and spend some extra time with family and friends. This year, I’m also putting the finishing touches on a book proposal. What a perfect time to share the 10 most popular posts of the past year here at Christian in the Rough!

Surprisingly, most of the “Top 10” were not published in 2012, so you may not have seen these in a while, if ever! Over the next few days, we will be counting down the Christian in the Rough Top 10 for 2012. Here’s number nine…

Last week I noticed that bloggers Dustin Valencia and Ben Nunes had posted letters to their younger selves on their blogs. I thought it was a great idea. I started thinking, what sage advice would I give to my 18-year-old self?

I’m not sure if I would have listened to all this when I was 18, but here’s what I would say if I had a chance. Here goes…

Dear 18-year-old Larry,

  • Don’t be in such a hurry to get older. You’ll be 43 before you know it.
  • Relax. You don’t have to be “right” about everything. (And, by the way, you aren’t.)
  • Nobody is beyond redemption. This includes you.
  • Humor at someone else’s expense isn’t humor.
  • If you don’t have the money for something, don’t buy it.
  • Breaking a room-temperature Terry’s Chocolate Orange on your forehead is a neat trick. Trying to break a frozen Terry’s Chocolate Orange on your forehead will give you a concussion and leave bits of foil embedded in your forehead. I’m just sayin’…
  • If you want to experience grace (and you will), start by extending it to others.
  • Don’t derive your self worth from your athletic accomplishments. Just go out there and have some fun.
  • I know you may not want to hear it right now, but Dad does know what he’s talking about.
  • Some things are your own fault. Deal with it.
  • Mullets aren’t forever. Rock it while you  still can.
  • Seek God above all else, and he will provide.
  • Everyone you meet is important. Everyone.
  • As long as it is legal, moral and ethical, there is no job that is beneath you.
  • Always look for things to celebrate rather than criticize.
  • You don’t need to know what happens next. If you found out, you wouldn’t believe it anyway. Just have faith.
  • Some of this stuff will take you 25 years or more to learn and appreciate. Hang in there!

What would you write in a letter to your 18-year-old self?

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I Hate Christmas

by Larry Hehn on November 26, 2012

I hate ChristmasA few days ago, my friend Julie shared a story with me, and asked if I wanted to share it here on the blog. I couldn’t say yes quick enough.

I think Julie expected me to re-write this in my own words, but her version is so spontaneous and heartfelt that I’m publishing it as is. Julie doesn’t have a blog, but I think she could!

Hey Larry — Wondered if you would be interested in an article / idea I have for your blog. Short story: At the dentist office, making my next appointment which will be in January so I started to say, “Hey well then Merry…” and I got cut off.

“I hate Christmas so don’t bother.”

I think there are a lot of people with ‘I hate Christmas’ going on right about now and I expect it will get worse! But it is because their Christmas is filled with shopping, and baking and wrapping and trying to be all things to all people but without any joy … being and doing everything that isn’t really about Christmas!

I know there are tons of messages about keeping the Christ in Christmas, but maybe people need something more practical to follow.

Find Christ everywhere.

1. Let someone in line at the store. Smile. Tell them that’s a present from you.

2. Sing / Listen to Hymns about the joy of Christmas not just about Santa and Reindeer (they are okay sometimes too).

3. Don’t wait until Christmas Eve to read the story of the birth of Jesus – Read it now. Advent doesn’t mean you have to wait for the story in Church!

4. When you start to get caught up in everything that isn’t about Christ … take a moment. Pray for the guidance to find the joy.

5. Look at every life around you as if they were as special and beautiful as the birth of baby Jesus … because every life is special.

Just some thoughts … You can do wonders with an idea like this (I think!)

Wishing you Joy in your heart and mind as you prepare for the Christmas Season!

Julie, you already did wonders with this idea. Thank you so much for sending it my way and sharing it with us! Wishing you much joy as well, and a very merry Christmas!

What other ways of finding Christ everywhere can you add to Julie’s list?

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