Flirting with Faith

Flirting with Faith


Hope for Unity Across Generations

posted by Joan Ball

My sister in law, a long time and devout Christian believer who I used to (not so lovingly) refer to as “The Baptinista” in my atheist days, sent me a link this morning. She knows I am here in Memphis at The Great Emergence event and that I am unsure why. She does not know much about the premise of the conference or the content of the emergent conversation. She is a Chuck Swindoll gal and gets his daily devotional. As I read what she sent, it I thought two things.
It is true that there is nothing new under the sun…yet sometimes things need to be reinvigorated.
This may be communicated differently to different people across generational and process divides, but the call is coming from all corners to reconsider how things are being done. I hold out hope that we can do it as a unified intergenerational family.
I am pasting the piece below in full, so please pardon the length of this post.
December 5, 2008
FREE INDEED
by Charles R. Swindoll
Romans 6:14 NLT
My hope has been to create an appetite for grace that is so strong nothing will restrain us from pursuing the freedom and spontaneity it can bring—a longing so deep that a new spiritual dawn, a “grace awakening,” if you will, cannot help but burst through the wall of legalism. Since I am a Christian minister, much of my involvement and exposure is in the realm of the church and Christian organizations. It has been my observation that even here most folks are not free; they have not learned to accept and enjoy the grace that has come to us in Jesus Christ. Though He came to set us free, it saddens me to say that many still live behind the wall of bondage. Regrettably, the stones of constraint are everywhere to be found. Instead of being places of enthusiastic, spontaneous worship, many churches and Christian ministries have become institutions that maintain a system of religion with hired officials to guard the gates and to enforce the rules.
In vain I have searched the Bible, looking for examples of early Christians whose lives were marked by rigidity, predictability, inhibition, dullness, and caution. Fortunately, grim, frowning, joyless saints in Scripture are conspicuous by their absence. Instead, the examples I find are of adventurous, risk-taking, enthusiastic, and authentic believers whose joy was contagious even in times of painful trial. Their vision was broad even when death drew near. Rules were few and changes were welcome. The contrast between then and now is staggering.
The difference, I am convinced, is grace. Grace scales the wall and refuses to be restricted. It lives above the demands of human opinion and breaks free from legalistic regulations. Grace dares us to take hold of the sledge of courage and break through longstanding stones. Grace invites us to chart new courses and explore ever-expanding regions, all the while delighting in the unexpected. While others care more about maintaining the wall and fearing those who guard it, grace is constantly looking for ways to freedom. Grace wants faith to fly, regardless of what grim-faced officials may say or think or do.
There is a “grace awakening” loose in the land. Will you become a part of it? While you take your turn with the sledgehammer and pound away, a host of us are standing near, and some of us may be half a world away, cheering you on. Don’t think of it as a lonesome, isolated task. You are breaking through to freedom, and no one is more delighted than the Lord Jesus Christ, who has promised you His grace. Never forget His words: “If therefore the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.” Stay at it. By the grace of Almighty God, the new movement will someday sweep across every continent and the longstanding wall that has kept people in bondage for centuries will come tumbling down. And we shall all, at last, be free indeed.



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Trish Ryan

posted December 8, 2008 at 9:55 am


What an interesting call for true freedom.
I wonder if he isn’t actually talking about two different things…God’s grace which sets us free, and then God’s Holy Spirit which calls us to the life of adventure and exploration that is the antithesis of the dull, ordered way so many good church people live?



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Joan Ball

posted December 8, 2008 at 1:21 pm


Thanks for the comment/question Trish. Swindoll wrote a book called Grace Awakening that was one of the first things I read when I came to faith. I can’t remember how he defined it and your comment is encouraging me to pull it off the shelf and refresh my memory.



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Peter Vessenes

posted December 9, 2008 at 3:59 pm


Hey Joan,
I saw your post on notreligious, and wanted to invite you to drop me a line; I’d love to chat about what Dave is up to and hear why you’re excited! Probably the easiest thing to do is e-mail me at peter at stage4faith dot org.
Peter Vessenes



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Yvette

posted December 10, 2008 at 9:38 pm


Hey Joan:
You reminded me of my cousin Nancy who went to be with the Lord at the very young age of 27. I miss her so. She always said “It is by His grace that we are free. Have fun WITH the Lord and just be yourself. That’s what it is to be a christian. To be FREE, to be yourself”
And it’s so true. I know He loves ME, for ME. I can always be myself where ever I am. Because He knows me. So why should I try to be different to different people. No way. I am free in Him. He accepts me the way I am. So I figure, if he accepts me and my sometimes stupd ways, then everyone can accept me also for me. Thanks for your post. I loved it.



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Bradley J Moore

posted December 11, 2008 at 9:15 pm


Hey Joan – Hope you’re feeling better! Looking forward to hearing your take on what the Emergents have to say. As for me, I love the mainline Presby church I’m a member of – filled with its full share of tradition, liturgy, and ritual. And a dynamic group of people who are trying to be a community of faith.



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