Love and Law

I’ve been feeding on the doctrine/theology of my beloved Calvinist tradition.
My brain is well fed.
My heart is starving.


{This is a re-post from November 11, 2013.}


I posted these words on my Facebook page Sunday morning before leaving for the morning church service. It stirred up an interesting collection of comments.

If you are wondering about the last line, #Next3Decades, I’m using this phrase for the next few months at the end of Facebook and Twitter posts. I may use it all through 2014. It is intended to remind me, and maybe you, that change is possible. A friend of mine used it when I posted something about the last 30 years of my life. It grabbed me. I need to let go of the last 3 decades. I need to look to the #Next3Decades.

And that is the reason I posted the first three lines.

I haven’t posted here in about four weeks. At first I wasn’t 100% sure why. I had plenty of material available to post and promote. It would have led to some great discussions. But, I wasn’t happy with it. (I’ll post it at a later date. I still like it. It will promote conversation.)

In my heart I knew I needed to look for something else. I needed different content for my current frame of mind.

I found it.

Now back to the first three lines of the Sunday post.

The question that continually came to mind over the last few weeks related to something that was missing.

I was missing something. Something big.

What was I missing?

Grace and forgiveness.

My head is full of wonderful doctrine and theology. I collect it. I study it. I look for it in everything I read. I listen for it in every sermon.

During a counseling session I suddenly realized it wasn’t enough.

I had the head knowledge. I knew the words describing grace and forgiveness.

I knew Jesus had died on the cross for me. I knew that God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit loved me.

I knew it in my head.

How did I miss the part about my heart?

Don’t get me wrong, please. I’m not upset or disappointed with my Calvinism. I’m not upset with my upbringing and education. I will always love and spend time with doctrine/theology. And, I have no intentions of “falling off the wagon” so to speak. But, in the last six months my eyes and heart have been opened to what I was missing.

It was being offered to me from the pulpit, in my reading, through my music, in person by great friends, etc.

My defective brain didn’t let my heart see it or feel it.

I have hundreds of pages of journal notes about grace and love over law. But recent events have “cracked my heart open”.

Now it is time for me to allow grace and love to pour into me and over me.


Please join the conversation. Return to my blog every Monday and Thursday. I’ll do my best to make it worth your time.


Have you ever been stuck on the law? Have you ever been stuck on the love?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

Leave a Reply. Seriously. Let's have a conversation.

14 thoughts on “Love and Law

  1. This is what I’ve been feeling a LOT of lately. That personal connection that comes from a personal connection from the heart. My Catholic upbringing didn’t show me how to have the heart with the faith… and trying a “Bible” church has changed that.

    This writing is good stuff. Keep it up writer.

    I still will tell you that I haven’t hit my 3rd decade so I’m glad that you are here to show me the way.

    • Laura – If I’m called to show you the way, so be it. I accept that responsibility with great seriousness. (Thanks for not calling me old.)

  2. This is a continued focus at our church. It had only been since attending there have I fully grasped that it isn’t about receiving it but giving it away because we have it. Thanks for this post Rick.

  3. So glad to see this post today, sir! Head to heart, indeed. So needed. I have been both stuck on the law and stuck on the love at different seasons in my life. The love one is better. 🙂 Keep writing, my friend!

  4. I’ve been thinking a lot about the role of the head and the heart, especially as they relate to developing and sharing a worldview. I think the head allows us to understand relationships, but the heart is where they live.

  5. I could have written exactly this post just four or five years ago. I grew up in a Christian home, went to Christian school, embraced and loved the Calvinist theology with my whole heart. But something was missing and I knew it. I longed for something more, I had this gut feeling that my life was supposed to be about more than knowing God and knowing the right answers. I moved to Texas in 2008 and we ended up at a much different church, very modern, non-denominational in name but Southern Baptist in practice. The doctrine coming from the pulpit was reformed, but this church was so full of grace and forgiveness, overflowing with it from every side. I started getting the message from not only the teaching, but the people and the reading I was doing. All of the sudden my whole perspective changed and I saw the Bible with completely fresh eyes. I don’t know how I had missed it all those years. Now my life is so full of love and grace and forgiveness, if it hadn’t been for that I would have never survived the past year. Even my two therapists can’t believe it. My next three decades are gonna be AWESOME.

    Praying for you and wishing for you fresh eyes and a softened heart 🙂

    • “…something was missing and I knew it. I longed for something more, I had this gut feeling that my life was supposed to be about more than knowing God and knowing the right answers.”

      Thanks Sarah.

  6. Rick,

    I’m not a calvinist, so keep that in mind as you read my comments.

    First of all… I used to be a big fan of theology. I loved the “study” and coming from a baptist upbringing that had about half a foot in calvinism, I believe that “study to shew thyself approved” was a life verse at every VBS, bible camp, college campus, sunday school class, and everything else that was part of my upbringing in the faith.

    Not that I disagree with the verse, or the thought behind it… but out of context, it creates a misdirected focus.

    1. Theology is limited. No matter which theology you pick… it’s entirely limited by your ability to understand it. God is infinite. Man is not. Which means your brain, your understanding, and your ability to put the theology into practice are limited. Don’t hang your faith on the hook of theology, because the screws only go as deep in the wall as your are able to drill them. Instead, strive to know Christ, because he is not just a screw in the wall.. he’s an ANCHOR.

    2. Remember that the early church did not have “the bible” as we have it today. No…. what they had was a collection of letters that one person in a small group of believers may or may not have had. In fact, many of them were probably illiterate, so even if they HAD their own copy, they couldn’t have read it anyway.

    It is a WESTERN cultural phenomenon that has elevated intellect and education to the place where “Read your Bible Every Day” is a practice required by our faith.

    Jesus did not say to read it every day. (NOTE: I’m not saying that you shouldn’t read it everyday. read on.)

    What I’m saying is that our faith was not meant to be intellectual. It was meant to be SPIRITUAL and SUPERNATURAL.

    3. Which leads me to my third point. and not to go all “Charismaniac” on you… but look at the descriptions of the early church, and see what was happening there. Then look at “the church” today and ask yourself why are these things not happening.

    When I asked this question, my mind was blown wide open. If your commitment to theology is to accept what the word SAYS rather than what MAN SAYS IT SAYS… it begs the question, why are we not experiencing the SUPERNATURAL on a daily basis?

    4. I’m not going to argue calvinist theology… I’ve studied it extensively, and came to a different conclusion… most of which is that the truth is somewhere in the tension between the two viewpoints…. God is soverign. Man’s will is free. Both are true… and what that looks like is balance. But I digress.

    What I’m going to address about calvinism is the tendency of many of it’s followers to be douchey.
    They spend more time equipping themselves to argue and slap the label on “heretic” on people than they spend on getting to know JESUS.

    Jesus is not theology. He is not history. He is alive, and real, and at the HEART of Christianity is not a systematic approach to understanding scripture, but rather a real and loving PERSON and GOD who is here and now, and who demands that we follow Him.

    Not telling you to abandon your pursuit of the study of the scriptures, or your passion for theology… but more important than STUDYING GOD is KNOWING GOD.

    Anyway… not to create an argument, but just encourage you to seek Him, because that’s what this is all about.

    • “Charismaniac”. That’s hilarious! 🙂

      You get my point, Josh. I love the study of theology (not limited to Calvinist either), but somehow I had missed the HEART.
      And, I can truly tell you, my missing out on the heart and love was not because of what I was hearing from the pulpit. The HEART has always been present in the words preached by the two men who have been the pastors at our church. Our current pastor has been with us for almost 17 years and before him was a tenure of more than a dozen years.

      Thanks for joining the conversation!