The story behind the song “Grace Has Become Your New Home”

We live in a transitional neighborhood. Several years ago, on the evening before a bulky trash pick-up, we set out on the curb a variety of items we could no longer use. Most of these items were broken. An hour later, everything was gone! People had driven by and picked everything up. Since then, I have tested this phenomenon several times. A broken aquarium…GONE. A vacuum cleaner that no longer sucked…GONE. A rusted out shower caddy…GONE. One person’s trash is another person’s treasure!

A song lyric came to me as I was staring at our empty front yard after the latest round – “When the curb you’ve been kicked to is where Jesus grabs you, then grace has become your new home.”

Here is how Paul puts it. “Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else. But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus. God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (Ephesians 2:1-10 New Living Translation)

Blessings,

Rick Jordan (one of Jesus’ ongoing reclamation projects)

https://youtu.be/dguOy_d55j8

 

New Song – “Grace Has Become Your New Home”

Here is my brand new song – “When the curb you’ve been kicked to is where Jesus grabs you, then GRACE HAS BECOME YOUR NEW HOME!!!” Words & Music by Rick Jordan 07/18/2018, Copyright #bx8TM7XWSPirwG7b.

Here is where you can watch it, listen to it, “like” it, and share it – https://youtu.be/dguOy_d55j8

THANKS!!!

Rick Jordan

What Difference Does Relationship with Jesus Make? (Acts 3-4)

Christianity affirms that Jesus came to us as a baby, grew up, atoned for our sins through His sacrificial death on a Roman cross, and rose again. Christianity affirms that Jesus defeated every enemy, and that Jesus is our Savior and Lord. Christianity affirms that this same Christ, through the Holy Spirit, indwells people who respond to Him in repentance and faith. Christianity affirms that Christ changes those people from the inside out.

That’s a whole lot of affirming. But how often do Christ-followers live out these realities we affirm when we gather together? Do these realities make a noticeable difference in the way we talk and act and react during the 167 hours that transpire between our weekly worship experiences? Does relationship with this death-conquering Christ transform the people who follow Him?

In the early years of the church, people who said yes to the loving lordship of Jesus were transformed and became transformative. In fact, the world faced a decision: do we join them or do we kill them? They couldn’t simply tolerate the church, which was in those days a dynamic movement, not an institution.

Fast forward to today. Did Jesus choose this path of incarnation, agonizing crucifixion, and resurrection just so people would attend church services and clean up a few bad habits along the way? Can the people around us observe from their interactions with us that the living Christ indwells us and empowers us? Is there anything transformative about us?

The book of Acts chapters 3 and 4 chronicles an outlandish event in the life of the early church. On the way to the temple, Peter and John encountered a crippled man who begged them for money. John and Peter stopped and made eye contact with the man. Then Peter said, “I don’t have any money, but what I do have I give you in the power of Jesus’ name…get up and walk!”

The man grabbed Peter’s outstretched hand, got up, and walked. Actually, he jumped around in aerobic worship on legs that were functional for the first time ever.

This miracle stirred up a commotion exactly like the commotions Jesus had stirred up, and the religious leaders reacted exactly like they reacted to Jesus. They had Peter and John arrested and brought before a tribunal where they demanded that Peter and John come clean about how they were able to say such troubling things in the name of their crucified Rabbi and do such a troublesome thing to that crippled beggar. Filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 4:8), Peter responded by proclaiming the good news about Jesus.

Check out what happened next. “The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus. But since they could see the man who had been healed standing right there among them, there was nothing the council could say.” (Acts 4:13-14, The Passion Translation)

The council members were doing their best to connect the dots. In front of them were three common Galilean fishermen. The Jewish leaders had no reference point for common Galilean fishermen saying and doing anything remarkable, but they knew these common Galilean fishermen were associated with that carpenter’s son who said and did extraordinarily remarkable things before they killed Him. They knew that these common Galilean fishermen had invoked the name of that carpenter’s son in healing the man.

The council members shifted into damage control, attempting to contain the uncontainable. I am quite sure the Gospel was never meant to be containable.

Can people recognize about you and me what the council recognized about Peter and John? Can people correlate our words and our behavior with what they have observed about our relationship with Christ? Because self-giving love is the timeless and international signature of a Christ-follower (see John 13:34-35), let’s start there. In the way we relate to people – especially the unloveable ones – is the love of Jesus evident? Are we attracted to the same kinds of people to whom Jesus and His early followers were attracted? Do we attract the same kinds of people Jesus and His early followers attracted?

The crippled beggar in Acts chapter 3 was physically challenged from birth and was a fixture next to the temple gate. How many people had ignored him as they walked by him or had glanced dismissively at him as they walked around him? Let’s zoom in on what Peter and John did before commanding him to walk and on what Peter did immediately after commanding him to walk. Before commanding him to walk Peter and John stopped, they made eye contact with the man, and they spoke to him. After commanding him to walk, Peter took him by the hand, which required physical contact without access to hand sanitizer.

Peter and John dignified him before and after they invoked the name of Jesus in commanding him to walk.

Paying redemptive attention to somebody does not seem like a big deal until you are the one stuck at the temple gate day after day being ignored. Are you and I willing to stop and move toward people, especially the ones who are inconvenient or objectionable or might require something from us? With whom can you and I make eye contact? With whom can you and I initiate a conversation? Who can you and I touch?

If we ordinary Christ-followers will move toward people and pay redemptive attention to them, who knows what OTHER miracles might happen?  

May you and I become increasingly swept up in the bigger-and-better-than-life realities of the Christ we follow, because this world desperately needs us to step up and love like Jesus.

Rick Jordan (www.rickcarlajordan.com, rickjordankcmo@gmail.com)

“A Curiouser Life” (an original song by Rick Jordan)

We posted another song, called “A Curiouser Life,” on our YouTube channel. Thanks in advance for clicking on the “Like” icon below the video (if you do like it of course) and thank you for subscribing to the channel – subscribing really helps! Here is the song. https://youtu.be/vQCoQWbYgbM

When God Flips Us (Isaiah 61)

I am intrigued by people who flip houses, for two reasons.

  1. Flippers see what I cannot see. When I look at a broken down house I see nothing but a dump, but Flippers can see all kinds of potential. Flippers see a fine fixer-upper (cue the Rock Trolls from “Frozen”).
  2. Flippers get to call themselves Flippers, which sounds quite cool.

Flippers are able to deconstruct and then reconstruct a house that not only becomes habitable again but becomes valuable and desirable.

God is the consummate Flipper.

Isaiah wrote the section of Scripture we call Isaiah 61 to people who had been conquered, deported and enslaved. Their world had been blown to pieces. Their lives were in shambles. From their humiliated and defeated perspective, they were beyond salvage. But God specializes in flipping lost causes. Where we see irreparable ruin, God sees promise. Where we see a pile of manure, God sees compost.

Here is Isaiah 61 in The New Living Translation, with a few parenthetical notes I have added. In Luke 4:18-21 Jesus applies the first section of this passage to Himself and to His kingdom agenda, which is why the pronouns are capitalized.

On behalf of God, the prophet announces liberation, recovery, and restoration.

v.1) The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon Me, for the Lord has anointed Me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent Me to comfort (heal) the brokenhearted  and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed.

v.2) He has sent Me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favor has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies. (In Luke 4:18-21 Jesus intentionally closes the scroll before reading this last statement, which means Jesus did not come to condemn us!)

v.3) To all who mourn in Israel, He will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for His own glory (deeply rooted, strong, stable).

v.4) They will rebuild the ancient ruins, repairing cities destroyed long ago. They will revive them, though they have been deserted for many generations (a return to productivity).

v.5) Foreigners will be your servants. They will feed your flocks and plow your fields and tend your vineyards.

v.6) You will be called priests of the Lord, ministers of our God. You will feed on the treasures of the nations and boast in their riches.

v.7) Instead of shame and dishonor, you will enjoy a double share of honor. You will possess a double portion of prosperity in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours.

God directly reinforces this liberation, recovery, and restoration.

v.8) “For I, the Lord, love justice. I hate robbery and wrongdoing. I will faithfully reward My people for their suffering and make an everlasting covenant with them.

v.9) Their descendants will be recognized and honored among the nations. Everyone will realize that they are a people the Lord has blessed.”                                              

The prophet expresses the transcendent and irrepressible joy and hope of the liberated, recovering, restored people of God.

v.10-11) I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God! For He has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness. I am like a bridegroom dressed for his wedding or a bride with her jewels. The Sovereign Lord will show His justice to the nations of the world. Everyone will praise Him! His righteousness will be like a garden in early spring, with plants springing up everywhere.

There are ten upgrading exchanges in this passage, all fulfilled in Christ:

  1. We exchange poverty and oppression for the good news of God’s intervention (v.1).
  2. We exchange brokenheartedness for God’s healing comfort (v.1).
  3. We exchange captivity and bondage for God’s liberation (v.1).
  4. We exchange debilitating and exhausting grief for God’s favor and grace (v.2).
  5. We exchange wretched doom (ashes) for God’s approving crown of beauty (v.3).
  6. We exchange despondent heaviness for God’s joyful blessing (v.3).
  7. We exchange devastating despair for God’s festive praise (v.3).
  8. We exchange ruined failure and waste for God’s new start (vv.4-5).
  9. We exchange humiliating shame for God’s double share of honor (v.7).
  10. We exchange suffered consequences for God’s justice and faithfulness (v.8-9).

No wonder the prophet erupts in joyful and hopeful praise at the end of this chapter! In the Christ-following life, joy and hope are not pursuits or objectives. Joy and hope are results. They are effects. They are outcomes. When we begin upgrading our lives for Christ’s life in us, all of the joy and hope we could ever need begins bubbling up through our union with Christ.

In light of these ten upgrading exchanges, please read verses 10 and 11 again. This rendering combines the New Living Translation, New International Version, The Voice, The Common English Bible, and The New English Translation.

I am overwhelmed with joy and my soul vibrates with exuberant hope, because of the Eternal Lord my God! For God has dressed me with the garments of deliverance and has wrapped me in a robe of His righteousness. I am like a bridegroom in his wedding suit, or a bride adorned in her jewelry. For just as the ground produces its crops and a garden yields its produce, so the sovereign Lord will cause deliverance to grow, and give His people reason to praise God in the sight of all the nations.”         

Faith exercise questions:

  • Do you know anybody who has been “flipped” by God? What was their response?
  • When has God “flipped” you? What was your response?
  • Which of these upgrading exchanges have you experienced?
  • Which of these upgrading exchanges are you currently experiencing?
  • Which of these upgrading exchanges do you want or need to experience?
  • From the passage, what is the next faith-step for you? Which of God’s promises do you need to claim? Do you need to be flipped?
  • What if Isaiah 61:10-11 can be our “new normal?” What if God WANTS to bring us into a joy-full and hope-full life that lifts us above hardships and attacks? Are you in?

Grace and peace,

Rick Jordan (www.rickcarlajordan.com, rickjordankcmo@gmail.com)