Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Grace Roots

Grace Roots... Where'd that name come from? Almost three years ago I had been thinking about creating a website, basically for the purpose of providing an outlet for me to write about God's grace. I asked the Lord, "What should I call my website?" I remember the day as clear as crystal. I was driving along the road for my job, and just as soon as I had asked the question this is what came into my mind: "graceroots.org."

It's something that I never would have come up with myself - I really believe the Lord gave me that name. And although I questioned the Lord about that name and about if I had really heard from Him (or heard from Him correctly), I came home and signed up with a web host and I registered the graceroots.org domain. During these past 3 years I've gone along with the "Grace Roots" theme. Till now, it's been a theme about having everything we do rooted in the grace of God. But the theme became even clearer to me last week.

I was listening to Grace Walk Radio last Wednesday - at a time when I normally would not even have been home- and the discussion at hand was between Steve McVey of Grace Walk Ministries and Paul Anderson-Walsh of "The Grace Project" in England. To try to be brief here, they were discussing "growing in the the grace and knowledge of Jesus" (2 Peter 3:18). "Growing in Grace" has been another theme in my life, as I co-host a show on GW Radio with that name, and I also write an article with that same title.

Paul brought up some words from Psalm 92.

The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;
planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God.
They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green...

Paul brought up something about palm trees. He said something like, "Did you know that palm trees don't bear fruit during their first ten years?" He went on to basically say that a palm tree spends that time getting its roots established in the soil. If you look at the branches and leaves, the palm tree appears to simply be in a "Godward Gaze" (Paul was referring to McVey's book of that name). That really spoke to me about so many of the thoughts I've had during the past few years, some of which I've written about and some of which I haven't yet.

I've been big on "waiting" and "abiding" and on not just going out there and "doing things for God" for the sake of making sure you're working for God. I've been big on "resting" and "establishing the heart in grace" and in letting real, God-produced fruit come in its proper time, and by HIM producing it, not us producing it. I've really been saddened that we get people to come to church and then each week we teach and preach about how to live life as a Christian (all the "Christian values" and "Principles for Christian living"), but we really give people little to no time to get their roots established in the fertile soil of grace.

We add a little grace here and a little grace there. We say we can do nothing apart from Christ. That's all great, but it just seems that grace is basically seen as one of many "ingredients" of Christian living. We don't seem to understand that grace is the very soil that our roots desperately need to be firmly established in.

I'm not saying that a Christian should wait ten years before "doing" anything! The point is that every Christian needs to have their heart established in grace - and that takes time. Grace is the soil that provides all the water and nutrients to the heart. Instead of focusing on all the fruit we think we're suppose to bear, we need to spend time in a Godward Gaze, getting our roots firmly established in grace - no matter how long it takes.

Steve and Paul went on to talk a little bit about how even a little legalism can contaminate the soil, and can stunt growth. OH HOW TRUE! I've written about this a little, and I've thought about it A LOT! I've experienced this first hand. I've discussed it with my wife. I've had to "fast" from various religious teachings so I could purge out the subtle legalism that was killing my growth in grace.

Just a little bit of herbicide sprayed in the wrong direction can kill a healthy plant. But the heart established in - rooted in - the fertile soil of pure grace will flourish like a palm tree and grow like a cedar of Lebanon.

One other thing to note, about the mighty Cedar tree. It doesn't exactly spring up overnight either!

2 comments:

  1. Joel,

    Some neat thoughts there... the palm tree imagery is quite powerful! Miles Stanford had a similar thought in his book "The Complete Green Letters"... check it out here:

    http://withchrist.org/MJS/time.htm

    I too have grown weary of sermons like "10 Steps to Godly Finances", or "10 Steps to Godly Parenting", etc. Not that what is being taught is not biblical... but that type of teaching is useless unless one has an understanding of their union with Christ, and that it is He who wants to do these things in and through them.

    Good reminders, my friend...

    Kenny

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  2. Thanks for your comments, Kenny. I relate well to your thoughts. :) Thanks also for the great link. I read the article with joy, and I've bookmarked it, and will take a look at the other articles there as well.

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