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May 21, 2018

Welcome to the Grace Cafe Podcast. We begin this episode by interacting with a letter we received from a long-time listener who shared with us her struggles with reading Scripture. These struggles stem from viewing the Bible through the legalistic lens she was taught to use years ago, prior to her own grace awakening. She mentions, "I'm thinking that taking a break from reading the Bible might be needed to give myself time for God to replace my old mindset with the freedom I have in Christ." 

As we interact with her letter, we talk about our own struggles in that area, which seem to be commonplace to varying degrees with those of us who've transitioned from some form of legalism into a gospel-centered life. A necessary part of that transition can be to lay aside our Bible reading for a season while our hearts are re-tooled by the Holy Spirit to see God as the kind Father he really is instead of the harsh task master of legalism. God doesn't panic or think less of us during those seasons. Legalists will use false guilt tactics as we experience more and more freedom in Jesus to be who we really are. One writer called the church God's gymnasium for spiritual fitness via "spiritual disciplines", meaning we need Jesus less and less. But Jesus said we would know the truth and the truth would set us free. If the version of truth that we're hearing from those reciting Scripture to us, isn't setting us free, it isn't Jesus.

We also talk about forgiveness in this episode. Did you know that while the New Testament does encourage us to forgive one another, asking for forgiveness is nowhere in the New Testament? One problem with asking for forgiveness is that it puts the burden of forgiving on the one who was hurt. Even if the one asking seems insincere and simply going through the motions, the one who was hurt may be pressured by a false sense of obligation to immediately forgive and is viewed as insincere themselves if they are not yet in a place to do that. Let's talk about it.

What about trials and suffering? Is God trying to teach me something when I go through a trial or suffer loss? Is it up to me to find out what he's trying to teach me in my suffering? We don't think so. We think that that is a horribly wrong view of God that we get from our theological traditions. Was God trying to teach Paul something as he was being beheaded? Was he trying to get through to Peter as he was being crucified upside down? Was God trying to teach Jesus something as he was dying on the cross? We don't think so. Let's talk about it.