Thursday, December 29, 2011


I’ve had this title on my list for several months now.  Today I had a great reminder of how great it is to be free under the grace of God.  Since Cheri, our boys, and I were all home today, we went to a movie as a family, something we rarely have the opportunity to do.  I posted something about it on my Facebook wall, and one of my old roommates from college expressed mock outrage that I was attending a movie. 

We attended a Christian university that taught us that it was wrong as Christians to go to movies.  In fact, they taught that it was wrong as Christians to do all kinds of things, so much so that it was oppressive.  Instead of growing in my relationship with Christ while I was attending a Christian university, I spent all of my time either trying to measure up to what a Christian should be, or feeling defeated because I couldn’t measure up to what they said God expected of me. 

After Cheri and I moved to the Atlanta area in the mid 1980’s, we were blessed to sit under the teaching of Dr. Charles Stanley.  It was refreshing to learn that we have great freedom in God’s grace, and we don’t need to try to measure up.  We can’t do anything to earn God’s grace.  He gives His grace to us freely and abundantly.  Once the burden of oppression was removed, I began to grow again in my relationship with Christ.

Galatians 5:13 tells us, “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”  Christianity is not a list of requirements that must be met in order to earn and maintain favor with God.  It’s a call to freedom in Christ, to love and to serve others.

Freedom under the grace of God is a wonderful thing.  Enjoy it!


  1. I agree, Joel, that Christianity isn't about a list of rules and do's and don'ts to try and meet some man-made standard of "righteousness." But do you think there are things that Christians should avoid, not simply because of the "appearance of evil" (as I have heard it said) but because certain things can taint our minds with things that are not pleasing to God? I'm not challenging you, just asking a sincere question for your honest opinion. I don't think movies are "sinful" just because they are movies, but what about the content of each movie? Is that how we judge if it is acceptable or beneficial to our walk with God ... by what is in the movie? Judge each on its own merit? I think that makes logical sense. But unfortunately, there are SO few movies out there, even "good" movies, that don't have at least SOME ungodly aspects in them, be it cursing, swearing, using the Lord's name in vain, sexual promiscuity, adultery, fornication, immodesty, etc. ... so how much of that is 'okay' for us to view in order to see the rest of the 'good movie?' I have seen movies that would be EXCELLENT movies, had they just been willing to omit the unnecessary cursing and filthy language and gratuitous sex scenes ... but they are afraid "clean" movies like that won't sell ... and they are all about the money, naturally. (I've had to break this comment in half, it was too long for it to accept - imagine that! LOL!) so ... continued ...

  2. (continued comment) ... The church I have been going to for quite some time is considered "oppressive" by some ... but in all honesty, what they are trying to teach is just one basic simple premise ... and that is that God wants and expects us to do our BEST to live a HOLY life. Not to be perfect, He knows we will fail, stumble and fall ... but to desire that in EVERYTHING we do, think, say, where we go, how we present ourselves to our fellow man, from our attitudes to our words, deeds and appearance, to be first and foremost concerned about being as Christ-like as humanly possible. Most people think that (striving to live a Godly life) is too oppressive. I think it's not out of defiance or rebellion, but more out of just wanting to do what everyone else does ... to be 'normal' and 'fit in' and not have any restrictions on ourselves. Please don't get me wrong - as you are one of the most Godly men I know - so I'm not saying otherwise, I'm just trying to point out what I see so much of and that is that it seems to me that many, many Christians translate "freedom" to mean "I can do anything I want as long as I don't break the 10 commandments or do anything overtly wicked, immoral or illegal" and misconstrue any efforts at teaching very high standards as being too 'confining' or 'restrictive' and thus, buck against it and scream legalism. I don't see it as legalism at all to encourage believers to live as far removed from "worldly pleasures" as possible (IF those things can in any way displease the Lord or cause our minds to feed on sinful things) rather than to get as close to the world as they can without actually 'falling in.' And trust me, I don't for a minute believe that pleasure is an evil thing ... as long as that pleasure is not derived from something that Jesus would not condone or engage in himself. So ... I waiver ... to go see that movie I want to see ... or not. Sometimes I go ... and it was fine. Sometimes I go ... and wish I hadn't. I struggle with wanting to be that "Godly person" ... and throwing my hands up knowing that I am not. Am I 'oppressed' with restrictions and just don't know it? Or am I just struggling with normal human tendencies, weakness and doubt ... like Paul when he said something like "the things I would like to do, I don't do and the things I should not do, I do!" (or something along those lines, indicating he constantly 'fought with his flesh').
    I showed Momma how to view your blog and told her she would really enjoy reading them, as they are very insightful and full of encouragement and Godly wisdom. She was going to try to remember how to get back to them. I might have to remind her a time or two. :)
    {This thing makes me post as anonymous because I don't have an 'account' ... but you know it's me - your OK friend.}

  3. I appreciate your kind comments and I hope your mom enjoys reading my blog. I don’t mind at all being challenged on anything that I write. I’ll be the first to admit that I am not always right, and I’m far from being a Bible scholar. My opinions are based on my experiences and the things I’ve learned through reading, study and the teaching I’ve received.

    I have a rather lengthy response, so instead of posting it here, I'll post it as today's blog entry. Thanks for asking!