I get emails —
Dear Al and Jay;
I wanted to thank each of you this holiday season for your ministries in re-teaching those of us in the Church of Christ branch of the Stone-Campbell movement. There has always been for me a sadness in the holidays. I think because I saw so many people willing to express their faith in Christ and celebrate His birth, but somewhere inside of me was this really horrible, depressing, soul destroying, joy killing, and inspired by Satan thought that was saying to me, “These poor fools don’t even know they are bound for Hell and there is nothing you can do about it because no one wants to hear the message that the Church of Christ has to offer.”
For the last twelve months I have been intensively restudying and meditating on many of the issues that you have been dealing with the past several years. In the last 6 to 8 months I found your blogs (and some others) and have felt a tremendous relief, support, and God affirming grace for which I have prayed. I have no doubt that God’s providence helped me to find your teaching ministries.
The Bible makes more sense to me now than it has my whole life. I see my life filled with more blessings and riches of His grace than I could have ever imagined. And at the same time view my life and its many short comings as more sinful, shallow, and legalistic than I had ever realized. Amazingly, however, I feel closer to God because I know that in spite of my great and serious flaws, God loves me and has forgiven me entirely due to the riches His grace which He gives freely to all who believe in the good news of the gospel and trust in Him.
One of the incredible things about my theological (and I think spiritual) change is that almost any devout Baptist or Methodist would probably read the last sentence of the previous paragraph and say, “Well, DUH!”. But for a life long “church ‘a christer” and graduate of one of our mainline schools of preaching, it is almost as foreign as though I were saying “I have met extra terrestrials and have seen their mother ship.” And, in fact, that is almost how my friends in the church look at me as I ever so gently approach them about the issues of CENI, patternism, Grace, and doing good works ‘because of’ and not ‘in order to’. I told one friend of mine that I am looking at the same scriptures I have always read, but somehow everything looks different. …..like the way you look through a stained glass kaleidoscope and then turn it just a little bit and whole new figures and images emerge; everything has changed.
The changes I have experienced, which to me are so profound, are to my patient wife kind of like…. “yeah, …… I figured he would come around one day”. But then, she did used to be [non-Church of Christ denomination] before I got a hold of her. … LOL ….
Seriously, as a result of things I have learned from your ministries my Christmas will be one of the most blessed and happiest of my life. My family will enjoy me more because I am more at peace with God in this season of peace.
God bless each of you, your families, and your ministries.
Your friend in Christ.
That’s why I keep typing away.
We need to all understand how very important it is that the view of grace I advocate be taught. Please … spread the word every way you can.
(I can’t believe I was mentioned alongside Al Maxey!)