Preaching Articles

Here’s our problem: we suffer from a grace too small. We’ve lined up the chairs in neat little rows and called it grace. We never noticed: it has broken free. Right now it’s running wild in the streets. We suffer from domesticated grace. We think grace is pleasant to receive. We think it’s ours to give, as if we could ladle raindrops from Niagara.

Grace isn’t safe: it’ll wreck your world. Grace assaults and grace subverts. Grace grabbed one man and knocked him off his ass. It rendered him blind and healed him three days later. Grace put him in danger time and again: shipwrecked three times or more, beaten with rods and sticks, stoned and left for dead. Grace used him like a ragdoll, overthrew an empire and saved us all—even him, the foremost of sinners.

Grace assaults us in so many ways we are dizzy and dumb from its constant battering. We seldom see it coming, and after it’s gone we rarely know what, exactly, just happened. Grace whispers and howls at the moon. Grace asks, and it’s the one telling us how it’s gonna be. It binds the strongman.

Grace sneaks into a crackhouse and holds the baby in the crib. It breaks into prison and sets the dealer free. Grace says, “Come, let’s reason together” even when the other side is incapable of true reason. Grace has its reasons of which reason knows nothing.

Grace will pick you up in Kansas and set you down in Oz. You’ll pick up crazy friends along the way and discover the boss behind the curtain is just as screwed up as you are. Grace gives you ruby red slippers stolen off a dead woman’s feet, and they show you the way home.

Grace is a strong man’s game. It’s God’s game. He invented it and plays it full out. Good luck against Him. Grace huddles with the opponent, calls the play and then runs the ball right up the middle. The enemy knows it’s coming, but grace never audibles: it executes the play—just try to stop it.

There’s only one way with grace. Surrender.

Grace is birthed in a stable and though it is homeless, it welcomes whomever celebrates its coming. Grace pulls back the veil between heaven and earth; it turns the night sky into the glory of God. Grace is where shepherds dine with Magi and humble young parents play host to perfect strangers.

Grace wanders; he does not build a house. Grace searches for welcome. Grace calls at every door, but never trespasses. He stands at the door and knocks, ready to bring a feast inside. Vagabond grace is the beggar bearing treasure. We welcome the wretch into our home; he reaches into his threadbare bag and pulls out gifts more precious than gold. His satchel holds love, joy and peace. He bestows patience and kindness. He fills the room with the fragrance of goodness, and leaves behind a map to faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Grace is the subtle hand of God before our very eyes. Grace gives thanks for a humble meal, and thousands sit and eat. Grace never condemns, yet somehow commands us to go and sin no more. Grace walks the pavement and it turns to gold.

Grace supplies our deepest need. We want a deliverer; God sends grace. We want to see power and the glory; God sends grace and truth. We want a king; God sends a Servant. Grace rules the world without title or rank. Grace has legions at his command, and never once calls for their aid.

Grace is never a tyrant—but forever a king.

Ray Hollenbach helps pastors and churches navigate change. He's the founder of DEEPER Seminars, weekend leadership retreats focused on discipleship in the local church. His newest book is Deeper Grace, a guide to the connection between grace and spiritual maturity. Ray currently lives in central Kentucky, coaching and consulting church leaders. You can visit his blog at Students of Jesus.

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Talk about it...

Chuck Sligh

commented on Jan 29, 2015

Sounds GREAT. problem is, I couldn't figure out three-fourths of what Ron was saying about grace. X,

Chet Gladkowski

commented on Jan 29, 2015

Question: Do We Preach a Grace That's Too Small? Short answer: YES!!!! YES!!!! YES!!!! YES!!!! YES!!!! YES!!!! YES!!!! YES!!!! YES!!!! YES!!!! YES!!!! YES!!!! YES!!!! YES!!!!

Tom Voigt

commented on Jan 29, 2015

I understood every word ... and offer an 'Amen'!,

William Lee

commented on Jan 29, 2015

He doesn't always send us what we ask for. He provides what we truly need-aka God's Grace;He uses the suffering that we bring into our lives for our good-aka God's Grace; He uses kidney cancer to restore my vision of what truly matters and gives me day after day of purpose and meaning-aka God's Grace. Ray, thank you so much for your perspective on God's amazing eternal grace. Bill

Doug Knox

commented on Jan 29, 2015

Excellent article, Ray. Thank you for showing us how to see and welcome grace. It truly is a celebration of joy with the stops pulled out. In another picture, it is healing the blind and lame in the temple, while children cry out, "Hosanna to the Son of David!" (Matthew 21:15).

Karumba Kiroko

commented on Jan 29, 2015

If Grace is the free, unconditional and unrestrained manner in which God acts toward his creatures, what grace is my brother talking about. The personification of the aspect of grace in the article almost makes the reader perceive that you are speaking of Jesus Christ.

Edgar Dotson

commented on Jan 29, 2015

Awsome, wow, excellent article. I did not overthink this article; I just understood it and loved the way it was written.

Charlie Roberts

commented on Jan 29, 2015

The answer to your article title is YES...Grace is what every promise that has been made to us is guaranteed by! We can't earn, can't buy it and certainly don't deserve it...but yet God saw fit to lavishly extend it to us, on a continual nonstop basis..once we accept it and receive it! That's what makes it so AMAZING!! Thanks for the article....

Dr. Genesis A. Slaughter

commented on Feb 2, 2015

This has been a topic I have been hearing the preached word on for about 6 mos. This article said a lot of what I have been hearing in the Spirit. To many in church don't know what true Grace is, and those who have never been to a church think it's a female name. Grace, is the cross of Jesus Christ. Grace is the rejection He bore for me. Grace is the unmerited favor of a life free of sin and shame. Thanks Ray for more to work with!

David Holland

commented on Feb 26, 2015

Ray, I was touched and so moved by this article. Thank you for writing so eloquently things more of us need to feel. Your story was better felt than understood intellectually. Amenm brother.

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