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Living In Grace

A Christ inspired work dealing with American Christian Culture in the New Century.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Of Free Will and Anarchy

Judges 17:6
In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.

I will do.

I will go.

I am free.

It is my life and I will do what I want with it.

Libertarian free will and its philosophical offspring libertarianism will by necessity lead to anarchy.

According to Funk and Wagnall's Dictionary

lib-er-tar-i-an, n. 1. a person who advocates liberty, esp. with regard to thought or conduct.... advocating liberty or conforming to principles of liberty.

We, especially as Americans, love our liberties, our pursuit of happiness, and the American Dream with little or no hindrance to what I want and when I want it.  We have been taught to varying degrees that we are free and have the ability to freely choose whatever we want.
Read more »

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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Word Wednesday:Honesty

2 Corinthians 8:21Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.

1 a : free from fraud or deception : legitimate, truthful <an honest plea> b : genuine, real  c : humble, plain <good honest food>
2 a : reputable, respectable <honest decent people> b chiefly British : good, worthy
3  creditable, praiseworthy

" You PROMISE? " are two words I often hear from three young and impressionable little men.  Can I be taken at my word?  Is what I say good enough?  As a Christian and a Father my word had better be good enough.  What we say matters and the impression our words leave on those within our family and without can last a lifetime.

Do we deceive others  and ourselves with our hypocrisy?  Integrity, honor, honesty, and character are all facets of who and what we are as Christians. 
  1. Are we honest with our spouse?
  2. Are we honest with our children?
  3. Are we honest in business?
  4. Are we honest with ourselves?
These are some questions that we must ask ourselves as we travel this road of life.  My boys know that if Daddy promises something it is all but assured.  We are not perfect and circumstances do change, but do others say of us, " He is as good as his word?  " When those outside the family of God see us they should ( if they are honest ) be able to give a good report of our lives.  God hates lying tongues and those who practice such will have their part in the Lake of Fire so I believe honesty is an imperative in our lives.

As I write this I am convicted and broken before the Lord.  I have not always been honest in all my dealings and often I have " went along to get along. "  We are required to be honest with both the Lord and with men and that includes ourselves and our families.  We are to dwell on things that are honest and pure and by doing so we are fulfilling the will of God.
Philippians 4:8Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Father, I thank you that you are True and Faithful.  Forgive me not always being honest, genuine, and reputable.  Lord, when others look upon me I desire that they see you living through me and I pray that my life will be honoring to you.  Amen

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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Freedom Apart From God

The leading opponent, Democratic Sen. Ruben Diaz, was given only a few minutes to state his case during the Senate debate.

"God, not Albany, settled the issue of marriage a long time ago," said Diaz, a Bronx minister. "I'm sorry you are trying to take away my right to speak," he said. "Why are you ashamed of what I have to say?"

After days of contentious negotiations and last-minute reversals by two Republican senators...

Read more »

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Monday, June 27, 2011

The United State of Man

Give Me Liberty Or Give Me Death

Patrick Henry, 1775

We in America have a long history of autonomy, rugged individualism, pragmatism, and the pull yourself up by your bootstraps mentality that many ( not all ) relate to.  We want to be our own person, do our own thing, and go our own way without the government, our elders, or any authority directing our actions or limiting our " freedom ", but are we truly free?
Read more »

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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Midnight Introspection

I am sitting here on this Friday night wondering to myself why?  The questions come one after another just as the dawn follows the night day after day and night after night.

Why am I so blessed?  I have done nothing to deserve the goodness of our benevolent Creator and never will as His manifold mercies envelop me daily.  The three boys who bring both joy and frustration ( one just woke up and crawled into my lap ) are a testament to the goodness of God.

My wife who so patiently endures my idiosyncrasies is my helpmate and my support while walking down this narrow path toward that Heavenly City.

Why has God called a wretch like me to share in this glorious salvation?
Read more »

Friday, June 24, 2011

Lights, Camera, Action!

My playground was the theatre. I'd sit and watch my mother pretend for a living. As a young girl, that's pretty seductive.

Gwyneth Paltrow

As I was reading this week I came across an article detailing The Top Ten Historical Impostors and I began to thinking: Who am I and is what I portray to the world who I really am?  Am I doing what is quoted above and pretending for a living and  by doing such am I seducing and being seduced at the same time?
Hypocrisy : a feigning to be what one is not or to believe what one does not; especially : the false assumption of an appearance of virtue or religion.
Pretending on stage is referred to as art and theater, but offstage it is hypocrisy and here is what Scripture has to say about it:

Read more »

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Thursday, June 23, 2011

The RoadMap, Reality, and Resurrection

John 14:6
I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

I am the WAY. 
  • The Narrow Way.  Matthew 7:14
  • The Gate for the Sheep. John 10:7
  •  By His name we are saved. Acts 4:12
He is not one way among many or merely a moral teacher.  He has not given us that choice.  It is by Christ alone that we may be saved from our wretched sinfulness and set on the path of righteousness.  The Way is Narrow and in this life it often seems long and hard but He has already made the way and it is Him.

The Truth
  • He is perfect and without iniquity.  Deuteronomy 32:4
  • We are to learn of the Truth. Psalm 25:5
  • He is Truth. Psalm 31:5
  • He is freeing.  John 8:32
He is Truth and He is the ultimate Reality.  His ways are righteous and pure and all that He has decreed will come to pass.  All truth comes from Him as He is the fount from which all goodness, mercy, and grace flows.  He cannot lie and no guile was found in Him.  He is upright in all His ways and He has shared the truth with us.

The Life
  • He is the creator of all life.  Colossians 1:16
  • He is the firstfruits of the resurrection.  1 Corinthians 15:20
  • He is the resurrection and the Life. John 11:25
  • We have been raised with Him. Colossians 2:12
He is our Life.  There is life found in no other and He is the hope for Eternity.  In Him alone is life found and in Him is the guarantee of eternal life.  It is His promise that to all that have received Him He will give eternal life. 

Has He made your paths straight, shown you the truth, and given you life? 

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Word Wednesday: Accessibility

Hebrews 4:15-16

15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tested in every way as we are, yet without sin. 16 Therefore let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time. 

After working in ninety five degree heat all day with a heat index nearing one hundred the last thing this body wanted to do is be accessible.  It wants to take a break, grab some ice tea, plop in the chair, and soak up some AC for a couple hours before bedtime.  That is not what happens though in the Stapleton Household.
Read more »

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Reflections of Father's Day

Ephesians 6
 1Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.
 2Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise;
 3That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.

This past Sunday we celebrated Father's Day here in the States which is an annual celebration honoring Fatherhood.  We had a good day in the Stapleton household as we corporately worshipped the Lord at our local Church and later in the day we had time to spend with friends eating and laughing.  I got to speak with my own Dad and wished him a happy Father's day as well. 

Once upon a time that would never have happened as we were both unrepentant sinners and I felt that he was not deserving of much honor.  He was in no way evil ( by earthly standards ) but he did not measure up to what I thought a father should be.  We have both came to know the Lord and I now have moved past any hard feelings and sinful attitudes I had. 
Read more »

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Friday, June 17, 2011

The Church, Parents, and Universities Oh My!!

On this Friday I only have one link to share and I feel that it is a good read for everyone who claims to be a Christian and parents at the same time. Mike Duran, at His blog DeCompose, wrote about the failure of the Church to produce young adults who are strong in their faith and can withstand the pressures of secularized higher education.

For many years, especially in the United States, we have abandoned the intellect to anecdotal wisdom and emotional outbursts which are a poor substitute for rigorous and faithful study of the Scriptures and the history of the Church. 
Read more »

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Thursday, June 16, 2011

I am Thankful

1 Thessalonians 5:18
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

Give thanks in everything.  Not just the things we like, appreciate, or asked for.  EVERYTHING.  Nothing Excluded.  The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.   Give thanks unto the Lord for He is good and His mercies endure forever.  Give Him thanks in the morning when your rise up for giving you another day and thank Him when your head hits the pillow for bringing you through once again.

Thank God for His mercy and Grace that has spared you.  Thank Him for carrying you through the hard times and thank Him for the good times.  Thank Him for His love, faithfulness, and His longsuffering ways with us.  Thank Him for keeping you from things you are unaware of and restraining the sinfulness of evil men.

Thank Him for friends, family, and the fellowship of the saints.  Thank Him for His never changing Word.  Thank Him for the bad times that draws you closer to Him and the good times for His abundant blessings.  He is God and He is worthy to be praised. 

We may not always understand our circumstances and we may not always know the path He is leading us down but He is faithful.  He orders the steps of the righteous and works all things together for our good.  He is in  Sovereign control so thank  Him that He holds the Universe together by the power of His word.

Thank Him for His discipline that proves you are His. Praise Him and love Him as a small child would a loving father.  Thank Him because now you are a fellow heir with Christ and a member of the household of God.  Remember Him, the one who redeemed you from the curse of sin and death and adopted you into His family.  Praise Him that you are now a child of God and a covenant member of His family.

At all times and in all ways thank Him.

Give Thanks unto the Lord for He is good, His mercies endure forever.

To God be the praise, honor, and glory forever. Amen

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Word Wednesday:Disappointment

Luke 24:13
And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs

I wanted a bow and arrow for Christmas and my little heart was set on it as I was nearing the age of ten.  To watch my Grandpa and Dad practice out back was to inspire awe and wonder in the mind of this boy.  To be like them and cast arrows at indescribable speeds at a far away targets was my goal for this year and to do this I needed my own archery equipment.

Now my mind was much bigger than any budget my parents could work with so on Christmas, awakening with anticipation, my hopes were crushed when I found what I considered a rinky-dink bow and arrow under the tree.  It was not at all like Dad's or Grandpa's and my childlike aspirations were crushed.

Looking back I now know that what I wanted was not what was necessarily best for me and here is why:
  1. I was physically unable to use a bow of the same size and capabilities of the adults.  I could neither hold it upright nor draw it back.  What I wanted would have been useless to me.
  2. I need to learn and grow in increments.  We learn to walk by rolling, crawling, and falling.  No one learns Calculus without first learning 1+1=2.
  3. There are limits on what others can provide for us.  People will let us down when we do not fully understand their situation also.  This does not excuse any wrongdoing on either ours or their part, but there very well may be good and valid reasons as to what has occurred.
Many if not all the disciples who had been following Jesus were disappointed at how His ministry apparently ended.  The Messiah of Israel was not supposed to die a gruesome death at the hands of the Gentiles and Jewish leaders.  Most of them were looking for an earthly Kingdom to be restored to Israel without having truly understood the plan and purpose of God ( it is hard to blame them on many parts ).  God was going to do a new thing in that the substitutionary death of Jesus had opened the way for both Jew and Gentile to be partakers of the family of God.  His plans were much larger and grander than what they had wanted.

Parents, children, and all others we will both disappoint and be disappointed in this life.  We will most certainly fail others but we can be assured that God will never fail us as He rules and reigns and will be faithful until the end.

25Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken:
 26Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?
 27And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.  30And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them.
 31And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.
There is always more to the Story when we are dining with the Master.

Father, I pray that you will help us to deal with life's disappointments in a Godly and edifying manner.  That our lives will be marked by a faithfulness in You that transcends our circumstances and will be a testimony to others of your Faithfulness.  Amen

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Can Christians Sin? The Answer

1 John 1:8
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

There is a pernicious doctrine making its rounds over the Internet and through our churches today called sinless perfectionism.  Sinless Perfectionism quickly defined is:
The belief that once saved someone can and does obtain perfection in this life since they are " in Christ " and they are a " new creation ".  It is the belief that one has arrived at the destination of ultimate glorification and believers are completely and wholly free from sin.
Read more »

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Monday, June 13, 2011

Can Christians Sin?

I have been going the rounds of the Internet the last few days and I have seen something that is rather alarming: The notion that Christians cannot sin. 

I have been aware of the doctrine of sinless perfectionism for quite some time but I did not know that it apparently had become so prevalent.  I have seen quotes ranging from " those who are in Him are unable to sin " to " I have not sinned for weeks ".  This sentiments are both dangerous and unbiblical.  They place a burden upon the believer that they are in no way capable of carrying to its logical and practical conclusions. 

We are not yet perfect brethren and we are still living in the confines of this flesh.  We are not yet ultimately glorified and as such we must deal with the curse of sin.

Tomorrow I am going to deal with this more thoroughly so please read Here to find out more!!

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Saturday, June 11, 2011

I have a Question

This is not a normal post.  I am just requesting some feedback from anyone who may actually be reading this.

Is there anything that you would enjoy, like, be interested in seeing written about here?  What can I write about that would further edify you?

So please comment below or if you wish to remain anonymous to the entire web you can email from the Connect Page at the top.

I do want you guys feedback.  Thanks and God bless you throughout your day

Friday, June 10, 2011

Fan Favorite Friday:6/10/2011

This really has been a hectic week and I must apologize for not keeping up with my reading list this week.  So I have a couple posts to share and some of my older ones for those who may be newcomers.

  1. My Struggles: Ben Reed
  2. We are on the Case: Mindy Stapleton
  3. Sola Scriptura: Living In Grace
  4. Have We Lost: Living In Grace
  5. Are We Effective: Living In Grace
  6. Walk of the Living Dead: Living In Grace

Please only Post other's material and not your own...Thank You.


Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Quiet

I was sitting and pondering on what to write today and between work, the kids, and various other circumstances I really have not given it much thought today.

So I am going to say nothing profound ( like I ever do anyway ).  I am going to be quiet and meditate upon the Lord and rest.  Yes rest.  Not to fret over whether I had written anything or not. 

After all our Lord and Savior would slip away to just be quiet with the Father.  He went away and prayed.  He had quiet time.

The Second Person of the Godhead, the Eternal Son of God, and the One who Created all that there is wanted to get away from the demands of life to pray and rest.

Are you or I better than Him>

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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Word Wednesday:We Are Not Perfect

2 Samuel 14:24
And the king said, Let him turn to his own house, and let him not see my face. So Absalom returned to his own house, and saw not the king's face.

As I have read that story in the past I often focused on the drama, violence, and betrayal playing out in the King's household like a bad B-movie.  I mean there was intrigue, deceit, and murder among the King's sons with enough adventure to keep an adrenaline junkie hooked.  
I am now older and as a father with three young boys I see the story from a vastly different perspective.  All the same elements are still there but now other things have drawn my attention as the Lord reveals new aspects of the Scripture to me.  

Dads, we are not perfect and we never will be this side of Eternity but I honestly wonder how David, a man after God's own heart, could let such things happen in his house.  The rape of his daughter, the lack of justice to the rapist, the murder of the perpetrator ( his son ), the rebellion and deception of Absalom, and finally the death of Absalom.  It really is almost to much to comprehend.  

How could a father become so disconnected from his family that would allow that to happen?  How could Absalom return to Jerusalem and David not see him for years?  How could a son become so resentful and rebellious that he would want to murder his dad and steal his kingdom?

I want my relationship with my kids to be so involved and God-centered that things like that will not happen in my family.  That my sons will grow up respecting me and their mother, that a love of God will be instilled in them that will last a lifetime, and that they will love and protect each other.  I pray that the time we spend together will nurture and grow them into young men full of integrity, honor, and that God will save them unto Himself.  

One thing Dads that I want to reiterate; we are not perfect.  We will mess up, we will drive our kids crazy, and they will think that we are insane, but we must never lose the ability to say, " I am sorry " and " I was wrong."  We must acknowledge our failings and be real before our kids, our wives, and our God. 

Lord, help me today to be honest with my family.  Help me to be a man of integrity and allow my children to follow me even as I follow you. Amen


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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Faith, Religion, and Politics

I would rather be ruled by a wise Turk than a foolish Christian.
Martin Luther

It seems that here in America we are now in a never-ending political campaign season.  The ads never stop,  the politicians are always politicking, and we are inundated with news flash after news flash.  Yahoo, Google, Bing, MSN, Fox, MediaMatters, and a vast array of others vie for our attention to keep us informed about our leaders sex lives, their choices of schools for their children, and what type of aftershave or perfume they wear.

We are not a theocracy, I am not a theonomist, and God has never commanded anyone presently living to establish His present and future Kingdom upon this Earth.
Read more »

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Monday, June 6, 2011

Dwell on This

Philippians 4:8
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

This is not going to be a long post as I do not have much to say.  Read above.  This is what we are commanded to dwell on.  This in no way denies the reality of evil, our own sinful tendencies, and the curse that is upon all creation because of sin, but it goes along quite well with the notion of renewing your mind.  Dwell on what is good.  Stand against evil and expose error by knowing what the Lord of all Creation has said is pure, and lovely, and of a good report.  Stand against the darkness by letting your light shine before men.
Read more »

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Friday, June 3, 2011

Fan Favorite Friday:6/3/2011

 Favorite Fridays

The new edition of Fan Favorite Fridays is here so enjoy the posts that I have found and add those you have discovered this week.  Send in some links by using the widget at the bottom of the post that you would like to share from your favorite blogs.  All links will not be shared as they will be reviewed for content and just because they are shared does not mean I agree with every view found therein.

  1. Unabomber stuff Auctioned Off:Washington Post
  2. Spec Faith-Imagination for God's Glory:E. Stephen Burnette
  3. God, Chance, or eHarmony:Mike Duran
  4. Can't Keep a Secret:Gospelonetone
  5. Tim Challies and Rick Warren:Timmy Brister
  6. Why Polls Make us Dumb:First Things

Please only Post other's material and not your own...Thank You.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Life's Narrative

Luke 12:20-21

 20But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?
 21So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.

Why, after Tressel admitted in March that he played ineligible players and lied to the NCAA about it, did people still rush to his defense, claiming him an otherwise perfect coach who made one little mistake?
Because Tressel, Ohio State and a compliant media -- yes, I'm just as guilty as the other two parties -- sold that narrative so well.- Andy Staples, Sports Illustrated
 I do not know what kind of man Coach Tressel is; I have not never met him and I probably never will, but he does have something in common with all of us.  His life is a narrative, a story, and a journey from the cradle to the grave filled with triumphs and failures.  How we travel down that road, how we conduct ourselves, and the way we relate to others will fill the pages of our lives with the saga of who we are and what God would have us become.
Read more »

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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Word Wednesday: Sacrifice

Then they came to the place of which God had told him; and Abraham built the altar there and arranged the wood, and bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood.  Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.
Genesis 22:9-10

We as men are called upon to sacrifice in this life to varying degrees in differing circumstances.  Some give their lives for country, community, or a cause but for the most part we will never reach that level of self-sacrifice.  So what should our daily lives look like?

"  Daddy, come read my Bible Reader with me, " I heard my seven year old, Weston, say.  Usually that is a warm welcome to spend time with my son and the Lord in His Word, but that day I was comfortably piled up in my chair trying to recover from a cold.  I wanted nothing more than to sit there and do nothing, but his eager and expectant little face was beckoning me to read.  Against my bodies protests I got up and read with Weston, though I must admit it was not a huge sacrifice since it was something enjoyable and worthwhile.  If I routinely refused to give of myself, however, I would be sacrificing my family upon the altar of selfish convenience.

 What have you given up? What have you not given up?
  1. That extra rung on the career ladder that may have cost time with the family.
  2. Those extra man-toys many of us desire
  3. Our own time apart from everything
  4. That favorite television show or sports program
I am not advocating an unbalanced life where all we ever do is give ( which is not likely anyway ) but a lifestyle of self-sacrifice that includes loving others as ourselves especially in our homes.  Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son at God's command, but to often we are unwilling to sacrifice anything for anyone.

Father, help us to be living sacrifices to you and for your glory and to love those around us sacrificially.  Help us to realize the impact we as husbands and fathers have on the lives of those around us.  We know that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. Amen.

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