Grace vs. Justice

I came across the video of the Cleveland shooting by accident on Sunday night. Not knowing what I was watching, when the senseless murder took place on my smartphone I wasn’t quite sure how to process what I had just viewed. Everything in me hurt. Then when I began reading more into what happened my “hurt” turned into a deep empathy for the victim’s family and a growing disdain for the man who committed the crime. I am certain my feelings are nothing exclusive to only me. Fast forward 48 hours and the murderer was discovered and rather than being arrested, face a trial, and serve a sentence, he took his own life. Another life loss but reactions of mourning were scarce. Rejoicing was found. Voices chanting “coward” were heard. Yet, very few mourned another soul lost in the chaos.

Wednesday morning comes and another life was lost. Aaron Hernandez, former NFL star and convicted murderer, was found dead of an apparent suicide. As the news spread some talked about a wasted NFL career, others offered words dripping with notes of “good riddance!” on them. Once again, few were mourning. Few reflected on a life that was wasted perhaps because Mr. Hernandez never understood what matters most in life.  While the Cleveland shooter and Aaron Hernandez probably never met, they crossed paths on our national radar and taught us something that we already know but refuse to address. We are a graceless people who cry for the justice of others while praying for grace and grace alone for ourselves.

Grace makes no sense to our world because grace is communicated with the accent of heaven by those whose hearts are attuned to heaven. Grace doesn’t make sense. When justice is warranted, Christ’s church should be advocating grace. I know I know. They murdered people(s). Demonstrating grace doesn’t mean a removal of an earthly penalty for an earthy grievance. Demonstrating grace means seeking a heavenly answer to an earthly problem. The solution is not that these murderers would hopefully find themselves in eternity a part from Christ. That is never the solution. No, we should mourn their passing because there has been no account given of repentance and salvation.

This is difficult. Not because these men or many like them have wronged us personally. No, it is difficult because it reveals our level of self-righteousness. We demand forgiveness for ourselves but the very thing we demand liberally we pour out frugally. We just do not understand grace. IF we did we would remember that our grievance against a Holy God is greater than any offense humanity can do to us yet, God offered grace when justice was warranted. We must advocate grace because it by grace that we have life. We have hope because we have grace. There is never a man or woman who is “beyond the reach of grace”. No one has fallen from grace more than the rest of us. Instead, Christ has extended endless grace and calls us to do the same. We must always err on the side of grace (even though within that you could argue there is rarely error in displaying grace).

I wonder had todays news read “Hernandez repents and receives Christ” would skeptics  raise their voices with frustrations and objections. Perhaps some would argue that he does not deserve it. What if had the Cleveland shooter turned himself in and with tears in his eyes repented for giving in to anger and taking the life of the elderly man. Would we forgive? Would we run to him with grace the way the father ran to his returning prodigal son? I would like to think I would but I know one family unit that would.

 

Thank you God for grace. May we be men and women who turn our world upside down because of the grace we show.

12.28

December 28th is always a unique day for our family. Sandwiched between Christmas and New Years, the 28th of December means more to me than most other days. Sure, there is the temptation to skip past it because a new year is coming and that means a “new me”.  Yes, the post-christmas lag is real and could easily swallow up the 28th. Yet, the 28th is here and I have not forgotten. It is the day we celebrate the births of my Papa, my brother, and my sister.

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Me and Papa have been cool since ’86.

Ken Frontz, aka. Papa, is a man unlike any other. Perhaps that sounds forced or cliché. After all, a grandson should have nothing but glowing remarks and embellished stories when discussing his grandfather but when I say “unlike any other” it is because he truly is. My Papa has lived life in such a way that when people find out I am his grandson I wait for the story of how he served them at some point when they were in need. Papa has never preached a sermon to me from behind a pulpit. He has never sat me down and walked through his favorite parts of scripture so that I may see how much he loves God. Instead, he served others in ways that only a man who loves Jesus could. In recent years he has been in and out of doctors offices and hospital visits. It has been a weird season with all of that. I never knew steel could bend. Yet, true to who he is, when I visited him one time in the hospital he allowed no time for me to ask how he was feeling. Instead, he quickly asked how I was feeling (having had some medical issues at that time myself) and then began checking on my kids and wife. In many other situations that would have come across as mere formality but for that man, my Papa, laying in the hospital bed, it was his character revealing itself once again. He turns 81 years old today. Happy Birthday Papa. Thank you for providing me with a standard of serving and loving others.

Ross Frontz, aka. my shadow/my protegé/my brother, turns 28 today. We are two years a part in age but when it comes to personalities we always seemed decades a part. Ross has always had the unique ability of living each day with passion and excitement. He has never been a man I would accuse of letting life “slip by” without getting something out of it. I have envied that trait. My cautious instincts often robbed me of new and exciting opportunities. Not Ross. The other thing I have always admired about Ross is his loyalty to people. Ross cares for his family and friends with a deep level of affection and care. Ross and I were never confused for “best friends” while growing up. Thank God for Pokemon or I am not sure we would have talked much from ’98-’01. However, I never doubted Ross’ loyalty to me as his brother. In fact, as we grew older, I remember numerous times when others made comments or jokes at my expense, Ross would use another gift, sarcasm/quick wit, to come alongside me in defense. (For what its worth, I never needed much help in the area of sarcasm but Ross didn’t need the invitation to defend me). It has been a great 28 years with my brother. We may not have grown up being best friends but I am not sure there is anyone else besides Charity that i enjoy hanging out with more. Happy Birthday brother. Thank you for your passion for life and deep love for your family.

Addyson Frontz, aka my sister/ the athlete/ the baby, turns 22 years old today. I am not even sure how that is possible. Growing up with an 8 year difference between us, I had the privilege of watching her grow up and remembering it all. Her first steps, first time I attempted to change her diaper, first time she wore a hoodie, etc. Addyson has taught me a lot about life and for that I am thankful. She is quiet and stoic but compassionate and thoughtful. Addyson is that person who does amazing things when no one is looking because A) she prefers that no one look B) she doesn’t care in the slightest if people “credit” her. She was destined to be the first girl QB at our high school or at least that’s what we dreamed when she would practice football plays with me in the yard. Addyson has taught me that being direct with people might not always be easy but it is always honest and forthright. I have always connected with Addyson. Probably because she called me “wabu” for the first 21 years of her life. Happy Birthday Addyson. Thank you for loving others deeply yet, quietly.

I love the 28th of December because it has given me 3 people who have helped make me a better man, father, husband, and brother. Happy Birthday !

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Two “blondes” and me.

A Culture Worth Defending

We have successfully endured the months and months of campaigning for the office of president. President Obama may have been the first president to utilize social media but President-elect Trump (yep.) has taken social media over. I have never enjoyed pictures of food, videos of everything minus politics, and Jaguars fandom as much as I have these last couple of months. They have been sweet pockets of sanctuary from Trump vs. Clinton talk.

On Wednesday nights I have been leading a series called “Church Life”. Our young adults have been discussing what our role is as the “bride and body of Christ”. One of the most recent points we discussed was our need to know truth so we can stand on truth so we may ultimately proclaim truth. The issue is that far too many Christians are content with not learning. We cease to hold onto the desire to learn about our faith. Wrestling with our faith is too much work. Searching truth is tedious and that process may take some time. So, christians sit back and grow complacent in their walk and allow errors to take root all around them. Unable to tell the difference because they do no know the truth. Unable to defend their faith because they do no know the truth.

Why does this connect with our recent political season? Well, if you are capable of knowing your candidates policies, vision, and desires but can not give a solid defense of the gospel of Jesus Christ then you have revealed to yourself and others who you worship. (Hint: It isn’t Jesus as much as we might hope.) If you know your opponents talking points, errors within their policies, etc. then you are without excuse as to why you are unable to defend the truth of who Christ is, why he came, and what he desires for each individual.

That is probably what bothers me most about the church during a time like this. Myself included perhaps more than I would care to admit. We have little issue with defending my political view, my candidate, or whatever else might fall under the umbrella of politics. We believe it matters. Our social media feeds are filled with men and women of the church fighting for and against policies and politicians. I would offer though that in the midst of those discussions let the church fight not for the culture at hand but instead, fight to present and display a radically different culture. A culture of men and women who fight for the truth of the beautiful gospel of Jesus Christ. A culture that fights for her brothers and sisters because they are men and women who have been redeemed and partakers of a new nature. A culture that fights for the least of these. A culture that serves and loves because the One we follow has demonstrated a service and love that will forever go unmatched. That is the beauty of the bride and power of the body. That culture is one worth defending. That truth is worth knowing, defending, and proclaiming!

Being His Bride In This Political Climate

Politics. Trump. Clinton. #NeverTrump or #NeverClinton. It has been a consuming world, this one we call the American political system. Consuming in all the worst ways imaginable. The rhetoric of our candidates and their campaigns have led much to be desired and many of us with a hint of nausea. It is with no surprise that this season has brought many to verbal attacks, criticisms, and outright dismissals of peers. No verbal sparring is more concerning for me than that which has taken place between brothers and sisters of the Father, Christ Jesus, who hold different positions on the current political affairs.

The bride of Christ is beautiful. She is eternal. She is what Christ died for (Acts 20:28). She is a body made up of many yet moving as one. The very gospel she was founded on has been afforded her victory over Satan, hell, and death. She is the picture of Christ, called to put on display the gospel, grace, and refuge found in Christ alone. Oh, I implore you and me to truly understand just how beautiful His bride is. Yet, we seem to forget this the moment a dissenting voice within the body speaks. We are His bride. Intended to be satisfied with Christ alone. Nothing else will do.  Not even your “perfect” president. We would do well to remember this when we encounter a brother or sister on the other side of the discussion.

If anyone knows my brother and me you would know that we didn’t always have the “brothers who are truly best friends” type of relationship. We competed. Hard. We did so at everything and so much so that it often forced us to concede areas of our lives just to escape the competition. I played sports. He was athletic but walked away after some time. He enjoyed performing musically. I was an international sensation (thanks Word of Life) but walked away. All of this to say that while our relationship was not always one that viewed life from the same perspective, nothing, and I mean nothing, separated the bond that was created from us being family. He was my brother. He was mine and I was his. No circumstance changed that and when others might attempt to create genuine strife for him I would not hesitate to defend him.  Fight for him. When he wronged me or I wronged him, we would forgive and reconcile. We were brothers.

Church, remember we are family. When a brother/sister has stepped in error let us not run to twitter or Facebook. We might be successful in creating armies for our angst but we create an even larger chasm within the body of Christ. When a brother/sister articulates a position you can not understand, fight the urge to spit fire. Remember, Proverbs 12:18 is still in your Bible, “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing”.

Brothers and sisters, this political season will end. Empires will grow. Empires will crumble. Those is power will rise and they will fall. Why be so quick to cast all your cares on the very things we know will exist for such a fleeting moment? No, in the midst of all the noise, let us not lose our voice or our focus. We are His bride. We are beautiful. We are eternal. We are brothers and sisters. Let’s act accordingly.

Redemptive Suffering

“When we find a redemptive perspective in our suffering, it ceases to be suffering.” Victor Frankyl

Yesterday, my wife posted a picture of me on Facebook as I was beginning a new course of treatment. It is that post which has even led me to write anything at all about my R.A. Many people expressed concerns, asked questions, and offered “get well” and prayers as a way of comfort and encouragement. (All of those were overwhelming to say the least and for each one my wife and I were very grateful.) So, here is a little insight into my R.A. and hopefully a word of encouragement to you or someone who may have moments of “suffering” which can appear at any time and in many forms.

It was 4 years ago I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Being 25, an expectant father for the first time, I was not exactly thrilled to hear that sort of diagnosis. I had witnessed my mom fight the disease for years. She never seemed defeated. She always participated in life with a smile. But there were days when R.A. just won. I thought of a neighbor I had who was also diagnosed and after years of battling she reached a point where walking to her mailbox became a near impossible take. Instantly thoughts of being feeble, weak, and unable to move ran through my mind. Sure, modern medicine is better than ever before. Yes, science has learned more about the disease than has ever been known. Yet, it remains uncured. I was 25 and was being told I had an incurable disease.

No, it is not cancer. Nor is it immediately life threatening. Those truths are comforting for sure. R.A. is an autoimmune disease that essentially tells your white blood cells to attack all cartilage in the body as though the cartilage is a foreign substance. Doctors are not sure what causes R.A. If untreated, a persons’ hands and feet would be drastically distorted and essentially all movements would cease or exist at a minimal level. This was my diagnosis, my disease, my future.

I came across the Victor Frankyl quote I shared above a few years back. I remember being forced to stop what I was doing and just think about how BIG that quote is, what it means, how it can be applied, etc. I instantly thought of my disease, the personal pain from it when it is flared up, the depression that always seems to be knocking, and the myriad of thoughts one might experience when suffering through a physical ailment. How could this suffering be redeemed? How could there be a purpose for it?

I might not have realized it then but what I was really wrestling with was my personal belief in the sovereignty of God. Did my diagnosis surprise God? Did he plan for this to be a part of my life? Big questions with even larger implications. It was not until recently though that I was able to answer those questions with confidence. It was no accident that I was diagnosed with R.A. It has a purpose and beautiful purpose, no matter how painful it must be to fulfill that purpose.

Humility. That’s my understanding of my R.A. and its’ overall redemptive purpose in my life. The disease has forced my hand in numerous ways to stop relying on myself, whether it is in getting dressed some mornings for work (Thanks Charity for the help) or learning how to share grief and hardship. In multiple arenas I have learned that “Ryan Frontz” is not invincible, unbreakable, nor self sufficient. That is a big lesson for a man like me to learn. I am not quick to differ to others, depend on others, or make myself open to others. R.A. has forced my hand in this area. When I allow myself to not see R.A. as a disease that is transforming my joints and muscles but as a disease that is also transforming my heart and my mind, I become thankful. My God did not give me this as some curse, nor as some accident, but he gave it to me for me to rely on him even more. For me to rely on others more and ultimately less on myself.

I am not sure what type of suffering you may have gone through or be going through. Suffering appears in many ways and can appear at any time. I would just encourage you to rest in knowing that God is sovereign and whatever suffering you are encountering, it is no mistake. Your suffering can be redeemed to serve a greater purpose! So redeem it! Through what appears to be that toughest moment, the darkest hour, allow God to reveal to you your sufferings purpose and let that purpose be fulfilled.

Thanks for letting me share some scattered thoughts on my R.A. and the perspective I am learning to adopt when dealing with it.

Rituxan

First treatment using Rituxan.

The call for genuine faith.

I remember hearing a story about a man who would walk high wires. High wires acts are something I can not even wrap my mind around seeing as how just the thought of hanging christmas lights outside while standing on a 6 foot ladder leaves my knees shaking. This man was performing on a high wire that was hanging over the Niagra Falls. He began by simply walking back and forth on the wire and then riding a unicycle across the wire. The crowd could not help but gather all around. He was putting on a show and the crowd was filled with not only awe but genuine excitement at this amazing feat. Finally the man dismounted the wire and approached the crowd, “How many of you believe I am capable of carrying another human across the wire as they sit in a wheel barrow?”, he asked. The crowd nodded, clapped, and roared with assurances, surely this man could do this great  act. Then he asked, “Fantastic, who then will get in the barrow?”. The crowd made no noise.

James 2:14-26 serves as  a great reminder for the believer about a faith demonstrated with action. The church building is filled with people who operate with only an “intellectual” faith or “emotional” faith but are absent of a genuinely dynamic faith. An intellectual faith and emotional faith are consistently found “action-less”. We see the brother or sister in need and offer a blessing in word only but do not intend to meet the need even when we have the means to do so. We come across a really moving worship song or sharply worded sermon and are stirred with emotion but, as all emotions do, the emotion flees and there has been no change. The christian story can not be told by those who consistently proclaim what they believe and yet, appear unwilling to live out the faith they proclaim. 94781-1432238986103_640x640

No, the faith we are called to have, the faith that saves is the genuine faith. The faith the encompasses not only our intellect and emotion but our will. Our desires are no longer to live for self but instead to live in light of the faith we are growing in. Our worship songs allow us to cry out to God asking Him to move us beyond our comfort, the fill our lives with his presence, and yet, when God says “who is willing to get in the barrow?” we balk. We are no longer interested in allowing that intellectual and emotional faith be fully developed into a genuine, dynamic faith.

The challenge for us is to never be content with inaction in our lives. Instead, may we be intentional about not just proclaiming g a faith in God and His promises but living them out as Abraham did when he laid his promised son on the altar. May we see our lives being transformed by the beautiful gospel of Christ into lives lived for the Glory of God and not for the pursuit of self. The genuine faith is what we are called to and what an unbelieving world wants to see on display.

This is the Day…

It almost seems impossible that some teenager could go through today with no actual recollection of what took place on 9/11/01. For anyone who can remember it will surely be a day and moment forever etched into our minds for as long as we are capable of remembering. The emotions that swelled up within everyone were unparalleled to any we had experienced before. Fear gripped us all in some fashion. A loss for words was obvious in a silent but crowded room. The need to clinch ever so tightly to the ones we held dear reigned supreme. The planes hit. The evil of that day laughed. God was still in control.

That is the interesting truth of 9/11 for myself to remember. God was in control that day. Did the lyrics of the children’s song “This is the Day, this is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it” lose their truth? Did God take a break from accomplishing His will? Absolutely not. God was and is in control. My prayers on 9/11 were filled with questions, fear, and even the occasional “Dear Jesus come into my heart” just in case (on that day I fully expected Nicolae Carpathia to walk on a TV screen and the end times would be upon us). Never did my prayer thank God for being in control. Never. Yet, He was. He is.

So on this day where we mourn what took place, reflecting the lives loss due to extreme evil personified, allow us to rejoice. Not only for the sacrifice of men and women who risked their lives for the good of others or the soldiers who fought in wars immediately following this act of terrorism. No, rejoice also in knowing that God was in control that day seated on the throne. God is in control today seated on His throne which means that for today we can sing with confidence “This the Day, this is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it”