In my previous life, I created a matrix with the variables involved in every gift we give or receive. Here, I fill in the variables while considering the Gift of Grace, 

GENERAL
  • What is the setting? Man has sinned and cannot reach God on his own deeds.
  • What is the value of the Giver and the Receiver sharing the gift? Infinite joy, peace and love.
  • What is the frequency of the gift? Is it a recurrent gift? The gift is available anytime and, once accepted, the gift is renewed every day.
THE GIVER
  • What is the cost of the gift to the giver? His only Son.
  • What is the giver's motivation (to say Thank You? to celebrate an occasion? to help out?) To save and to bring His people unto Himself.
  • Was the gift planned by the giver? Since eternity past.
  • Does the giver have any expectations of returns on the gift? Obedience.
  • Is there any additional value to the giver for giving the gift? His glory.
THE RECEIVER
  • What are the receiver's expectations? A relationship with Him with Internal peace and joy.
  • What is the receiver's gift value? Any additional value post-gift? Eternal life in His presence.
 
 
The Parachute Band have written a song about Grace which reminds me about the pouring overflow of God's Grace and it's effect in my life.

Grace is on me, like water
Grace surrounds me, like rivers deep
Grace is singing, like angels
Grace is washing the nations feet
Grace is leading me onwards
Grace is teaching me to forgive


Grace. It's pouring on me and should be pouring out of me.
 
 
If I learn to see Grace in the mirror, then the natural next step is to see Grace in others. It is hard for me to see others as God's Grace sees them. I see them as I think I know them, not as God's Grace sees them.

I see their flaws, He sees Grace
I see their imperfections, He sees Grace
I see their failings, He sees Grace
I see their weakness, He sees Grace
I see their vices, He sees Grace
I see their past, He sees Grace

Grace, it's in others' mirrors too.
 
 
Following my previous post on the relationship between Grace and me, I started wondering why I don't see it when I look in the mirror. I see me as I think I know me, not as God's Grace sees me.

I see my flaws, He sees Grace
I see my imperfections, He sees Grace
I see my failings, He sees Grace
I see my weakness, He sees Grace
I see my vices, He sees Grace
I see my past, He sees Grace

Grace, it's in the mirror.
 
 
Speak gently

Speak gently! -- It is better far
To rule by love, than fear --
Speak gently -- let not harsh words mar
The good we might do here!

Speak gently! -- Love doth whisper low
The vows that true hearts bind;
And gently Friendship's accents flow;
Affection's voice is kind.

Speak gently to the little child!
Its love be sure to gain;
Teach it in accents soft and mild: --
It may not long remain.

Speak gently to the young, for they
Will have enough to bear --
Pass through this life as best they may,
'T is full of anxious care!

Speak gently to the aged one,
Grieve not the care-worn heart;
The sands of life are nearly run,
Let such in peace depart!

Speak gently, kindly, to the poor;
Let no harsh tone be heard;
They have enough they must endure,
Without an unkind word!

Speak gently to the erring -- know,
They may have toiled in vain;
Perchance unkindness made them so;
Oh, win them back again!

Speak gently! -- He who gave his life
To bend man's stubborn will,
When elements were in fierce strife,
Said to them, 'Peace, be still.'

Speak gently! -- 't is a little thing
Dropped in the heart's deep well;
The good, the joy, which it may bring,
Eternity shall tell. 

-- David Bates
 
 
Nehemiah was an example of using Grace and Truth in the leadership position God had put him in. Nehemiah knew that to be a good leader you had to have clean hands and a pure heart. The basic quality for leadership is the same as the basic quality for success in a person's life. And that is to be true to one's belief and values. 

So what made Nehemiah so special ?
  • Nehemiah had a sense of calling. 
  • Nehemiah patiently waited for the right timing. 
  • Nehemiah established reasonable and attainable goals. You know one of the reasons why leadership fails is 1) they have no goals whatsoever or 2) they establish goals that are not reasonable, measurable or attainable. 
  • Nehemiah made prayer and recollection a priority in his life. 
  • Nehemiah rearranged his priorities in order to accomplish his goals. 
  • Nehemiah acted decisively when it was time for him to act. 
  • Nehemiah took time to rest, to plan, to pray, to think. 
  • Nehemiah became personally acquainted with his task. 
  • Nehemiah made shrewd use of his time. 
  • Nehemiah surrounded himself with trusted allies. 
  • Nehemiah provided vision for the people. 
  • Nehemiah involved a broad-based work team in the work. 
  • Nehemiah never wavered in the face of opposition. 
  • Nehemiah executed a plan to accomplish his goal. 
  • Nehemiah didn't hesitate to take emergency action when emergency action was necessary. 
  • Nehemiah was very visible and approachable. 
  • Nehemiah managed his resources very well. 
  • Nehemiah verbalized his dependence on other's help, and he did it again and again. 
  • Nehemiah was not afraid to get his hands dirty. 
  • Nehemiah took care of his people financially. 
  • Nehemiah personally sacrificed to accomplish his goal. 
  • Nehemiah refused to live above his people. 
  • Nehemiah didn't hesitate to discipline inappropriate behavior. 
  • Nehemiah had a great view of the value of his own work. 
  • Nehemiah exuded integrity before everyone. 
  • Nehemiah showed discernment in dealing with people. 
  • Nehemiah didn't hesitate to attribute his success to others.
  • Nehemiah kept his promises. 
Whether you believe in the veracity of the Good Book or not is besides the point. The example given here of someone who wisely persevered against all odds, with great Grace, is worth a moment of reflexion.
 
 
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 1:14

The 'Grace and Christ' series focuses on the aspects of His ministry on Earth and how it demonstrated Grace.


One leadership book which has had a profound influence on me was 'The Way of the Shepherd' by Kevin Leman. It describes how to be a leader by drawing parallels to keeping a flock of sheep - and it draws from Christ's graceful example. I know, it doesn't sound like there are parallels to make... but read on. Here are the principles from the book and the studied life of Christ as the Shepherd. I think what really gets to me is that Christ's Grace-based Shepherd Leadership promotes the notion that leaders are actually servants to their constituents. Now that's counter-intuitive...

Know the condition of your flock
- Follow the status of your people as well as the status of the work
- Get to know your flock, one sheep at a time
- Engage your people on a regular basis
- Keep your eyes and ears open, question and follow through

Discover the shape of your sheep
- Your choice of sheep can make flock management easier of harder
- Start with healthy sheep, or you'll inherit someone else's problem
- Know the SHAPE of your sheep to make sure they're in the right fold
-- Strengths
-- Heart
-- Attitude
-- Personality
-- Experiences

Help your sheep identify with you
- Build trust with your followers by modeling authenticity, integrity, and compassion
- Set higher standards of performance
- Relentlessly communicate your values and sense of mission
- Define the cause for your people and tell them where they fit in
- Remember that great leadership isn't just professional; it's personal

Make your pasture a safe place
- Keep your people well informed
- Infuse every position with importance
- Cull chronic instigators from the flock
- Regularly rotate the sheep to fresh pasture
- Reassure the sheep by staying visible
- Don't give problems time to fester

The staff of direction
- Know where you're going, get out in front, and keep your flock on the move
- When directing, use persuasion rather than coercion
- Give your people freedom of movement, but make sure they know where the fence is. Don't confuse boundaries with bridles
When your people get in trouble, go and get them out
- Remind your people that failure isn't fatal

The rod of correction
- Protect: stand in the gap and fight for your sheep
- Correct: approach discipline as a teaching opportunity
- Inspect: regularly inquire about your people's progress

The heart of the shepherd
- Great leadership is a lifestyle, not a technique
- Every day you have to decide who's going to pay for your leadership - you or your people
- Most of all, have a heart for your sheep

May it bring out the graceful shepherd leader in us.
 
 
Superduo brother and sister Bebe and Cece Winans have penned a song that describes the intimacy, the awesomeness and the openness of Grace. 

The line that touched me profoundly:
Hide behind a painted smile
You lash out and sing while you spiritually die
There's no need to sit in denial
He knows all about it and He understand why

Grace. There is nothing more intimate, more personal.
 
 
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 1:14

The 'Grace and Christ' series focuses on the aspects of His ministry on Earth and how it demonstrated Grace.

Here I look at how Christ used Grace to train the disciples he handpicked to deliver His message to the world.

- When they lacked spiritual understanding, Christ's grace provided instruction

- When they lacked humility, Christ's grace provided His example

- When they lacked faith, Christ's grace provided miracles and mighty deeds

- When they lacked commitment, Christ's grace provided His prayers

- When they lacked power, Christ's grace provided the Holy Spirit
 
 
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 1:14

The 'Grace and Christ' series focuses on the aspects of His ministry on Earth and how it demonstrated Grace.

Here I look at what my humble reactions should be to to His graceful actions towards me:
  
- Christ's grace teaches me, my humility should make me His student

- Christ's grace forgives me, my humility should make me repent from my sins

- Christ's grace leads me, my humility should make me follow in complete dependence

- Christ's grace serves me, my humility should make me serve Him and others

- Christ's grace hears me, my humility should make me pray about everything

- Christ's grace is with me, my humility should make me worship His presence.

His Grace should stimulate humble actions in me.
 

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