All is Grace 5 Cormorants and Kittiwakes

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. ” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:10)

Series: All is Grace

God’s Grace

Talk about the most, understand the least.

“God loves everyone” – treat ourselves and treat others – get our act together.

Scandal of Jesus.

One mystery of bible: Jesus attraction unlovely.

Book – Ragamuffin Gospel

Title: Cormorants and Kittiwakes

I warned you at the beginning on this series that I was going to break all the rules. I have WWAAYY too many quotes.

I’ve been alive 11,744 days.

Sun Rises – God’s Mercies

Used to mean more to me than it does now.


Calous around our hearts.

Try something

heart, effort, – doesn’t work out.

Hardness around heart.

Fold arms – Sarcastic – Cyncial – Jaded – Roll eyes – Spectator

Happens to all of us, we can see it in Jesus’s disciples.

They were masters at missing the point.

“…Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:3)

Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:4)

And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. (Matthew 18:5)

Children – life their life free of cynicysm.

Body of Christ needs to return to the place when they’re in wonder of God. & His beauty.

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel – Born 1907

Jewish Rabbi

Marched w/ Martin Luther King

Wrote ‘God in search of man’

Several years before his death, he sufferent near fatal heart attack.

His best friend Sam was by his bedside. So weak, only able to whisper

“Sam, I feel only gratitude for my life, for every moment I have lived. I am ready to go. I have seen so many miracles during my lifetime. Never once in my life did I ask God for success or wisdom of power or fame. I asked for wonder, and He gave it to me.” (Abraham Joshua Heschel)

Sistine Chapel – “I’m bored” – Filled w/Wonder & See God

Stand in the sistine chapel and say “I’m bored.” other people will be filled with wonder and see God.

For me, as I’ve grown older, it been a real challenge for me to keep my sense of wonder.

Talking w/ Jayne – Supernatural

Talking with Jayne about supernatural stuff. It’s become very hard to impress me. I’ve been cynical. I want to change that.

Think about when you were a kid, and how everything was amazing. Like Ice Cream. – Evan and Annie, eating ice cream, it’s amazing.

Older – We get bigger and everything else gets smaller.

Back in the day, a thunderstorm used to make grown men feel small. Not anymore. We’re just inconvienced by it.

Samuel Johnson (English Writer/Poet – arguably the most distinguished man in English history) said

“Wonder is nothing but the effect of novelty upon ignorance”

I’ve been the guy saying that when i become cunical and lose my sense of wonder.

Rabbi Heschel (God in search of man): “As civilization advances, the sense of wonder declines. Such decline is an alarming symptom of our state of mind. Mankind will not perish for want of information; but only for want of appreciation. The beginning of our happiness lies in the understanding that life without wonder is not worth living. What we lack is not a will to believe but a will to wonder.”

Trees outside house I have beautiful trees outside my house. What’s nuts is that they can produce their green leaves, the leaves turn yellow, then red, then fall, and I don’t look at them even one time during that whole process. I live a productive life where I’m going, going, going and I think I miss something.

Our world is saturated with grace, not just in the spirit, but in matter.

Deer leaping in meadow – The flight of an eagle – In fire – In water – In the rainbow after a storm – Music – A kid eating an ice cream cone

God wants us to experience His loving presense in the world around us.

Celtic Church

Around 300 AD-500 AD – Celtic church – Ireland – weren’t exposed to the greek belief of spirit and matter yet. ‘Dualism’.

Didn’t have a seperation between the spirit and the real world. Saw the world with faith.

In their writings: Young celtic monk saw his cat catch a salmon swimming in shallow water “The power of the Lord is in the paw of the cat.”

In their writings: Young celtic monk – cat – salmon – shallow water “The power of the Lord is in the paw of the cat.”

Their writings: “Wandering sailor monks of the Atlantic” – “Seeing the angels of God and hearing their song as they rose and fell over the western islands.”

Scientific people – Misc Birds – “Cormorants and Kittiwakes” – The monks lived in world where everything was a word of God to them.

I can think, how stupid! It wasn’t angels, it was just stupid birds! But I then I realize it’s me who’s stupid.

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. (Psalm 19:1-2)

We need to rediscover – gospel of grace – world of grace.

1. New York Mayer

Fiorello LaGuardia – Mayer NYC – worst time of great depression and all of WWII

Nicknamed – ‘little flower’ – 5 feet tall

Ride on New York City Firetruck

Raid speakeasies (illegal alcohol)

Take entire orphanages to baseball games

When the New York newspapers were on strike, he’d go on the radio and read the Sunday funnies to the kids

One cold night, Jan 1935 – showed up at night court – poorest parts of the city. Dismissed the judge – took over the bench himself.

Old Lady (ragamuffin) – brought before him – stealing a loaf of bread.

‘Her daughters husband, abandoned his family, daughter was sick, children were starving.

‘It’s a bad neighborhood, she’s got to be punished to teach other people around here a lesson.’

‘I’ve got to punish you. The law makes no exceptions – ten dollars or ten days in jail.’ – But even as he was pronouncing his sentence, he was already reaching into his pocket. $10 and threw it onto the table. “Here is the ten dollar fine, which I now pay. and furthermore, I am going to fine everyone in this courtroom fifty cents for living in a town where a person has to steal bread so that her grandchildren can eat.’

Ballif – collect the fines and give them to the lady.

The next day – newspaper reported $47.50 to the lady. And after collecting the fines, he got a standing ovation from the people he was fining.

What a moment of grace!

2. Retreat – Virginia Beach

Story in book – retreat – in Virginia Beach

6 women

Write ‘One Grace they’d like to receive from the Lord.’

Married woman – 45 years old – served God all her life “I want more than anything to actually experience just one time, the love of God.”

Brennen said he would join her in that prayer.

Next day, woke up before the sun was up – walked on the beach, less than 50 yards from the house. No shoes, water brushing up, noticed a teenage boy 100 yards away, walking toward her, behind him, 15 yards a woman walking behind the boy.

The boy passed by, when the woman was about to pass, made a sharp turn to walk right toward our woman, never seen her before. Put her arms around her, kissed on cheeck and whisered ‘I love you’, and then continued to walk away. The lady walked for another hour on the beach, returned to the house and told Brennen ‘Our prayer was answered.’

3. Bill Cosby

Even though there’s a ton of controversy around him right now, there’s tons of people who saw that show and recieved grace.

Cliff, claire, sondra, denise, theo, vanessa, rudi, and so on. We learned, without knowing it, how to live lovingly as families.

Weird situations:

engagement announcements – 15th birthday – Big telephone bill – Fight between young couple – A wedding anniversary of grandparents – A divorce between friends – An assault of the flu on a family – Ugly sweater

Patience, trust, sensitivity, honesty, flexibility, and forgiveness.

Shows like that, in their own way, are Vehicles of grace.

Fredrick Buechner (Beek-ner) (The Magnificent Defeat):

“For what we need to know, of course, is not just that God exists, not just that beyond the steely brightness of the stars there is a cosmic intelligence of some kind that keeps the whole show going, but that there is a God right here in the thick of our day-to-day lives trying to get messages through our blindness as we move around down here knee-deep in the fragrant muck and misery of the world. It is not objective proof of God’s existence that we want but the experience of God’s presence. That is the miracle we are really after, and that is also, I think, the miracle that we really get.”

Erma Bombeck – Newspaper Columist 60’s-90’s – (polycystic kidney disease) :

Fameous article “If I had my life to live over again”

“I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained and the sofa faded. I would have sat on the lawn with my children and not worried about grass stains. I would never have bought anything just because it was practical. When my child kissed me I would never have said ‘Later, now get washed up for dinner.’ There would have been more I love yous, more I’m sorrys, but mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute, look at it and really see it, live it, and never give it back.’

Each day, you’re either living more, or just dying a little bit.

Brennan – “The spirituality of wonder knows the world is charged with grace, that while sin and war, disease and death are terribly real, God’s loving presence and power in our midst are even more real.”


  • Moses at the burning bush “afraid to look at God”
  • Stephen about to be stoned “I can see the Son of man standing at the right hand of God.”
  • Doubting Thomas feeling the wounds of Jesus
  • Mother Teresa “see the face of Christ in the poor”.
  • Child throwing his kite into the wind
  • Mother looking into the eyes of her newborn child

The gospel of grace is devalued when Christians don’t see the beauty of this world.


God is willing to maintain a relationship even when His spouse has become a vulgar prostitute.

Same thing – adulterous women brough before Jesus.

Adulterous Woman – to Jesus


Expect him to Judge her.

She’s been unfaithful.

Stone her.

That’s the message of some churches. You’ve been unfaithful to God, so he should kill you.

Jesus passes right over justice and goes straight to grace.

Unjust? Yes. And least to our human thinking.

I am completely content with God not dealing with how I deserve.

On that day when Jesus says “Come David, blessed of my father”, won’t be because he’s just, it will be because His name is mercy.

Jesus Christ is the scandal of God.

May your heart always be amazed by him.


Parables – mercy – opponents:

Every parable of mercy was addresses to His opponents. Scribes, pharisees, theologians.

They’re opponents of the gospel of grace – They’re mad b/c He’s saying that God cares about sinners. Eat with people they dispised.

Here’s what he says (my words):

“These sinners, these people you despise are nearer to God than you. It is not the hookers and thieves who find it most difficult to repent. It’s you. So secure in your holiness that you have no need of me. Sure these people may have disobeyed God’s call, their professions have ignored and insulted Him, but they have have recieved the free gift of grace.

These are the people who appreciate His goodness: They have what you lack – a deep gratitude for God’s love and deep wonder at His mercy.”

“Dear Lord, grant me the grace of wonder.”

Suprise me, amaze me, awe me with every inch of Your universe. May I delight when I hear the song of Christ playing in ten thousand places in our beautiful world. Each day suprise me with Your marvelous things without number. I don’t ask to see the reason for it all; I ask only to share the wonder of your grace.”