We can’t make ourselves more loveable to God by years of good behavior. And yet, because of grace, we seek to do what pleases Him. We can’t earn even half an hour in heaven by acts of sympathy or kindness. And yet, because of grace, we spend unnumbered hours caring for the least of all His little ones. Those shining moments when we sometimes rise to our potential don’t make us even one bit more beloved by God. His love for us cannot be amplified, expanded, or improved. Grace cancels everything we think we’ve earned, and makes us utterly rely on everything God gives us. It is the end of all our goodness, and the place where faith begins. Abandon hope in all you’ve done, but deeply trust what God has done. And stay in grace. -Bill Knott

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The gospel is only as good as the God who asks us to believe it. If He’s the disappointed, vengeful deity we have pictured in our frightened imaginations, then we do well to hide, to stay away: why would we risk ourselves with Him? But if Christ is, as His Word says, the Lord whose love for us survives even our worst choices and most defiant behaviors, then we may crawl out from beneath the bed and step out from the shadows. When I am loved at my lowest and embraced even at the height of my foolishness, then I can safely trust myself to grace. “By grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” (Eph 2:8). I now believe in Him who has always—unequivocally—believed in me. So here I’ll stand—and stay in grace. -Bill Knott

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Jared Thurmon is the liaison for strategic partnerships with Adventist Review Ministries and is also a brand new father.  

It’s not called “practicing” for nothing. On some great future day, the liberating, life-affirming grace we each receive from Jesus will also be the grace we give as freely to those who wound us, irritate our peace, or call out for our love and care. Between the “now” and “then” there’s a lot of practicing to do—a daily repetition of kind words, forgiving acts, and chosen, holy silences. Like hours we spent as children with pianos, violins, or flutes, we learn the patterns of the Jesus life—not all at once, but with increasing Spirit-skill. On many days, we get the fingering all wrong: we point unrighteously at those who really need our grasp and our embrace. But just because the grace that saves us keeps on saving us from us, we build up skills in loving, holding, healing, helping. Great music—gracious music—is never perfect on day one. Keep practicing. And stay in grace. -Bill Knott

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In Other Words is the opinion page of Adventist Review staff: wide ranging, as befits the thinking of a group spanning multiple generations and encompassing more than half a dozen nationalities; spiritually earnest, as reflecting the thinking of a team of mature Christian professionals in areas as varied as journalism and technology, education and business, biblical studies and theology; sometimes lighthearted, always relevant. Wilona Karimabadi is an associate editor of Adventist Review magazine. www.adventistreview.org

Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence?” (Psalm 139:7, NRSV) “Searching the Obvious” focuses on how the Holy Spirit is ever active in our surroundings and in our lives, urging us to serve others. Personal stories challenge the reader to be mindful of our Christian Walk, recognize our own fallibility and slow down to ‘search the obvious’, the active presence of the Holy Spirit ever always around us.

"Journeys with Jesus" is an intimate, personal look at the walk we all have with our Savior. Inspirational, heart-tugging, thought-provoking vignettes of life's journey and life's decisions. Most of all, it points us to our Father, our Friend, as the Source of all wisdom, comfort, and peace. www.adventistreview.org

The mystery is that grace still finds us, hidden well beneath the cellar stairs—angry, broken, sinful, sad. When we’ve crawled into our painful cave to lick our wounds or plot revenge, we hear the footsteps on the stair. We hear the sound of Jesus’ gentle laughter: “You can stop being afraid now. All-y, all-y—yes—in free!” The games are finally over. When grace comes seeking you, there’s no more need to hide. What’s wounded starts to heal. Your past all gets forgiven. The lonely all get friended. Today, get found: step out into the light. Enjoy the life you’ve always sought. And stay in grace. -Bill Knott

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Every day beside the Jordan, can you hear the “hallelujahs”? Can you hear the joy of angels in their vast, euphoric choir as you give your life—again—to Jesus and walk down into the water? Can you feel the hug of heaven as you leave your past behind you—leave your sins and all your merits, held by grace and grace alone? Can you hear the words cascading: “This one’s Mine, My lovely child, of whom I’m so greatly proud”? Do you sense the great affection of the Father who will not be turned away by sin—in your past, your now, your future? Ah, the washing, the renewing that restores a dry disciple! Spend some moments, washed and steadied, in the sand beside the river, hearing heaven’s affirmation of your choice to follow Jesus. Jordan’s bank is sacred space. Come here often: stay in grace. -Bill Knott

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The resurrection is the greatest turnabout in time, a reversal of such epic scope that all our yesterdays have been reshaped and all tomorrows made anew. From Friday sundown’s grinding grief to Sunday morning’s glorious light, the balance of the world tipped.   We were the people sitting in darkness.  Now we greet His rising day. Death and dying lost their grip:  life and hope came springing up—out of the ground, within the tomb, above our loss, beyond our sin. Because Christ lives, the world’s dirge will die away;  a song of love and grace will be the anthem of the future. Join in the song that never dies:  “The Lord has risen—so shall I.”   And stay in grace. -Bill Knott

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