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Caleb KaltenbachCaleb Kaltenbach is lead pastor at Discovery Church, Simi Valley, California. The author of Messy Grace: How a Pastor with Gay Parents Learned to Love Others Without Sacrificing Conviction, he speaks widely on faith, reconciliation, and sexual diversity to people on all sides of the LGBT issue. Caleb attended Talbot School of Theology (Biola University) and is currently finishing his DMin at Dallas Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Amy, have two young children.
Paul David TrippPaul David Tripp is a pastor, author and conference speaker. He is the president of Paul Tripp Ministries and works to connect the transforming power of Jesus Christ to everyday life. This vision has led Paul to write 17 books on Christian living, produce 14 teaching series and travel aroun...more
Ron DealRon L. Deal is one of the most widely read and viewed experts on blended families in the country. He is Director of FamilyLife Blended® for FamilyLife®, founder of Smart Stepfamilies™, and the author and Consulting Editor of the Smart Stepfamily Series
Tim KimmelDr. Tim Kimmel is the founder and Executive Director of Family Matters, whose goal is to see families transformed by God’s grace into instruments of reformation and restoration. Tim and Family Matters conduct the Grace Based Parenting Conference across the country on the unique pressures that confront members of today's families. He and his wife, Darcy, also team up with other organizations such as FamilyLife, Focus on the Family and MOPS to build strong families. With his dry wit and engag...more
What is the difference between giving grace and giving in? Paul David Tripp, Tim Kimmel, Ron Deal, and Caleb Kaltenbach explain what grace is: in parenting, marriage, or relationships with a watching world.
Michelle: Do you remember that verse, “Be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves” [Matthew 10:16b]? We live in a time where, for Christians, it seems to be getting harder and harder to walk that line between acceptance and approval. Here’s Caleb Kaltenbach.
Caleb: We are moving into a culture where people go with whatever they want to do. There are going to be new things that come out that really scare Christians, and we don’t know how to handle it; we think: “Okay, do I keep my relationship with this person?” “Do I not?”
There are so many other issues that are going to come down the pipeline. We have to understand that we are missionaries; and there is a difference between acceptance and approval, and there’s a tension between grace and truth.
Michelle: We’re going to talk grace: how to live out grace during difficult times in marriage, in family, and in all of our relationships—with a watching world—on this edition of FamilyLife This Week.
Welcome back to FamilyLife This Week. I'm Michelle Hill. Okay, I have to talk to you today about something—that towel—that wet towel that gets left in the bathroom, obviously by someone else; not you—of course, not you—because it’s not me either. But there’s that wet towel that gets left in the bathroom [drawn out for emphasis] every single day; ohh! Drives me insane. Did you hear that other sigh? Drives my sound engineer insane too. We have this wet towel; what do we do with it? Do we pick it up, or do we leave it there? Do we go about our day, going, “Oh, if only they would have picked up their towel!”? You pick up the towel, and you put it on the rack [drawn out for emphasis] every single day. Are you enabling, or are you exhibiting common grace?
That’s what we’re going to talk about today; because, if you’ve listened to FamilyLife Today® or even the weekend show at all, you understand that grace is one of our core messages. A couple of men that we’ve leaned into for this message are Tim Kimmel and Paul Tripp. Of course, Tim Kimmel is known for his life message on grace; he and his wife Darcy are known for their books, Grace-Based Parenting and also Grace-Filled Marriage.
Paul, of course, is an author and conference speaker. He’s a counsellor, and he lives this grace-filled message. Here’s Paul describing the difference between grace and the law.
[Previous FamilyLife Today Broadcast]
Paul: Our tendency is just to come armed with the law: “This is what you did. How dare you! And this is what you’re going to get…”
Now let me say something about that: “Do our children need the law?”—yes, they do; because the law does a beautiful job of exposing sin. “Do our children need the law?”—yes, they do; because it’s a wonderful guide for life. But here’s what you need to understand: “The law has no power whatsoever to change the heart of your child—none.” If the law could change your child, Jesus would have never had to come.
I want to respond to my child with grace. Now, parents, don’t misunderstand me. Grace is not about calling wrong right. If wrong were right, there’d be no need for grace. The assumption of grace is that wrong is wrong; but now, I’m moving toward this child and I’m saying, “What is it that God wants for this young person, right now; and how can I be part of what God alone is able to do?”
I can’t change him; I’ve no ability to do that at all, but God can: “What does it look like, in this moment, to be God’s tool in the life of this young person?” That’s a whole different set of questions rather than: “How can I make him feel the weight of what he’s done to me?”—that’s just judgement. If God responded to us that way/if the wise heavenly Father responded to me that way, I’d have no hope as one of His children.
[Previous FamilyLife Today Broadcast]
Tim: Grace is what draws us all to Christ; that’s what we all resonate with as Christians. The problem is that, many times, you can get inside a Christian home and it does not reflect the grace relationship that we have with Christ.
The reason it’s so important, Dennis, is because, if we don’t make grace the theme of our home, we are contradicting, in the way we raise our kids, the very message we want them to embrace in their heart.
Bob: That contradiction may ultimately spiritually sabotage what we are trying to do with our kids; right?
Tim: Absolutely; it can bring the worst out of them unwittingly.
We have some great Christian/conscientious Christian parents listening to us right now; they want to do the best for their kids. Let me define this in one statement: “Grace-based parenting is treating your children the way God treats His children.” Now, that didn’t give you your definition—it just gave you your template—in that we should treat our children the way God treats His. He’s dealing with us in grace; that means that we don’t make arbitrary standards that are not backed up, biblically, and make them moral issues. If we do that, we incite our kids to rebellion.
Michelle: Did you catch what Tim Kimmel was talking about, parents/mom and dad?
Grace-based parenting means that we are treating our kids the way that God treats us.
I’m not someone, who likes formulas or anything; but here’s one formula that does come true is: “Rules, without relationship, usually does equal rebellion.” But here’s also the point that he’s making: is that grace-filled parents/they’re not pushovers. Grace-filled parents—they do discipline, and they do give consequences—but grace-filled people aren’t going to jump to conclusions.
Let’s break this down: let’s figure out how to act in grace, not only in our homes with our children, but also outside in our relationships at church and in the marketplace. One of my friends and coworkers, here at FamilyLife®, is Ron Deal. One of the things I really appreciate about Ron is his grace-filled attitude. A while back, I heard him give a message on grace. I was kind of surprised as he started going from grace to humility. It’s almost like humility is that secret in the sauce. Here’s Ron, talking about grace and humility from 1 Peter 5:5.
Ron: First Peter 5:5 is you verse of change; alright? Let me walk through this with you: “Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because…” Now let’s just pause there for a minute because—if I’m listening to this and I’m going, “Okay, now wait a minute; you’re telling me you’re about to give me the secret to having a good relationship, horizontally, with other people on earth: ‘Clothe yourself with humility toward one another because…’—but his answer/his explanation—the ’because,’ goes vertical.” Watch this: “Clothe yourselves with humility…because, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’”
There’s this principle, where it lays out—by the way, that’s repeated a number of times in the Old Testament, number of times in the New Testament; it’s repeated in a different form and fashion by Jesus in a lot of different ways—“God opposes the proud.” You come before God, say, “I got this; I’ve got it all figured out. Don’t need you, God; I’m fine all on my own,” God will oppose you; He’ll break you down.
But God gives grace to the humble—God moves towards us in our humility—and that fosters His grace then to lift us up. That’s the other way that this is repeated in the New Testament—this principle—Jesus said, “He who exalts himself will be humbled,”—“You come to Me in pride; I’m going to break you down,”—“he who humbles himself will be exalted” [Matthew 23:12].
That’s even said about Jesus in Philippians, Chapter 2: “He humbled Himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross; therefore, God has exalted Him to the highest name above all names” [Philippians 2:8-9]. See, the process even works in that relationship; with one another in human relationships: in parent/child relationships; in work relationships; and especially, in marriage relationships—especially, in marriage relationships, here’s the principle: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble,”—and so do spouses, and so do children, and so do coworkers, and so do employees; they respond well to humility.
Their heart softens when you soften you/when you deal with you. You worry about the plank and you start dealing with how you deal with your fears and your concerns, and you start acting godly and humble in that moment, then all of a sudden, they will soften as they deal with you—as they care about you/ as they reach toward you—because when you’re in pride, you’re just trying to make them change; and now, they’re going to oppose you. It just doesn’t work!
The anecdote to the fear factor is a shift in your heart to being humble about who you are. “Now, how do you make that work? How do you get humble about yourself?” I want to share with you just one strategy. These four things that you say, “What I know about me…”—say your fear; say your typical action; say the truth; say what you’ll do differently,”—comes from the work of a good friend of mine, Terry Hargrave, who’s a therapist at Fuller Theological Seminary; I want to give him credit for these ideas.
It’s really fascinating that there’s actually some brain science/that you change how your brain works when you do this humility stuff; it remaps your mind. From the time you were a baby, to the time you were a teenager, to the time you were a married adult, you may have done the same patterns over and over again. That creates a little rut in your brain—that’s a simplistic way of saying it—but the neuropathways in your brain, from stimulus to response, gets to be pretty ingrained.
You can actually change that pattern by doing this [moving to humility] over, and over, and over, and over. That’s fascinating; right? In other words, God knows how cool humility is when we implement it; it goes way deep in fostering a change in who we are.
Let’s think about that old fear dance a little bit: “What I know about me…”—say your fear: “What I usually typically fear is control right now,”—like—“What I usually do with that is I get defensive,”—right?—“This is where I usually start arguing with you about what you just said.”
The truth is: “I’m learning that you really care about me. Even though I feel controlled, you’re not trying to control me. I get that. You’re just trying to reach me. So what I’m going to do differently right now is, instead of arguing with you like I usually do, I’m going to try to listen/I’m going to try to just slow down and not say much and just pause. I’m going to just try to hear you and I’m going to try to understand what that means for you, and I’m going to try not to get all defensive about me.”
Does that magically fix everything? Does that just magically mean everything is wonderful and everybody’s happy all of a sudden?—no; but in that little tiny moment, we have just stopped that horrible crazy fear thing. We’ve just taken a little bit of a detour; we’ve taken a detour out of that, where now we have a chance or an opportunity to go somewhere different.
By the way, if I go through all that: imagine ladies, your husband walking in; you sit down at the table. You say one sentence; and he goes, “Whoa, what I know about me is I’m feeling controlled right now.” [Laughter] Just imagine yourself—you’re sitting at the table—this has happened a million times. He just said, “I’m feeling controlled right now, but what I know about me is that it’s more about me than it is about you. I used to blame you for that, and I used to accuse you of trying to be my momma. Now, I understand that you’re really not trying to do it; because the truth is you really don’t want to do that. You just want to figure out how we’re going to deal with this kid situation, so you’re not controlling me.”
He’s saying all of this out loud. He’s talking like crazy; and you’re just sitting there, listening to that. Then he ends up by saying, “What I’m going to do is I’m going take a deep breath. [Loud deep breath] I just fired off a little bullet prayer, saying, ‘God, please help me calm down’; and I’m going to try to listen without being reactive.”
Okay, ladies, if you’re used to him being highly reactive—being/running off: “You’re trying to be my mama…dah, dah, dah,”—and he did that [talking through what’s true], what might you feel? [Audience participation] “Shocked”; right. [Laughter] We’d have to pick you up off the floor; give you CPR. “Stunned.”
What else comes along with it? What does that represent: “Shocked” and “Stunned”?—like—“Relieved,” “Grateful.” I think I’m hearing, “Grace.” I think her heart just calmed a little bit. He’s shifted down; she’s shifting down. Is this leading to something better?—“Yes.” Do we know exactly what?—“No.” But it has a better chance of being grace-driven.
Michelle: Did you catch that? We need to take on humility: waiting/hearing the other person out has a better chance of being grace-driven. That’s not just according to Ron Deal; that’s according to God.
We need to take a quick break; but when we come back, we’re going to hear how grace plays out. Now, that we understand what grace is and we understand about humility, we’re going to hear how it plays out and maybe how it can start changing some of our relationships. I’ll be back in two minutes.
[Radio Station Spot Break]
Michelle: Welcome back to FamilyLife This Week. I’m Michelle Hill. We’re talking about grace today. I have a great example; because yesterday, I was stuck in traffic. It was bumper to bumper; we were going nowhere/absolutely nowhere. But there was this black BMW sedan—you know the guy: he was not only creeping up that middle lane/that lane that’s saved for merging only—but going fast. When he got where he wanted, he just cut back into our lane. I’m sitting there, thinking, “Seriously, Dude, we all have places to go.”
Traffic is one thing; but how do you live out grace with that family member, who has the political views that you, of course, don’t agree with?—or the coworker who is always talking about these conspiracy theories that drive you nuts? These relationships you can’t escape: “How do you make something of these relationships and actually strengthen your relationships?” It’s called grace.
I’ve got a great example of this: Pastor Caleb Kaltenbach. As a young boy, his mom and dad divorced. Not long after that, his mom moved in with her same-sex partner. He didn’t think much of Christians, as in he didn’t like them, until the day that he wound up at a Bible study at high school. This Bible study changed his life when he was introduced to Jesus Christ. For Caleb, it was the best news. But for his mom, it was the worst possible news. Here’s Caleb.
[Previous FamilyLife Today Broadcast]
Caleb: I got in [the car], and I told my mom. She just started crying: just crying, crying, crying. My mom, when we got home, went in. I stayed in the car, because I didn’t want to go in yet; and waited about 15 minutes. She had told Vera by then. As I said, Vera didn’t get along with me; I didn’t get along with her. She was a PhD psychologist, who had a very liberal view, not only on psychology, but on everything.
I sat down; and I remember she asked me, “So you’re a Christian now, Caleb.” I said, “Yes.” It was just very contentious again to the point, where my mom said, “Hey, you’re not going to come back for a while”; basically kicked me out. My dad had told me the same thing at his house. It was very difficult.
Bob: So you called friends and said, “Can I crash at your house?”
Dennis: You were 16?
Dennis: Not long after that, someone invited you to a Youth for Christ® conference?
Caleb: Youth for Christ, also known as CIY, Christ in Youth. It was a great conference, but I had never been to a Christian conference. It was so great being with other high schoolers that were my own age and getting to know them.
I remember, again, one morning I woke up; and I just couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else other than telling other people about this Jesus, who I had learned about. I mean, I figure I had lived 16 years of my life away from Jesus. I wanted to spend the rest of my life telling other people about Jesus and saying that He’s—again—He’s not like the people on the street corners. A week to the day that I was baptized, I said, “I want to give my life to fulltime Christian vocational ministry.”
Bob: —a week after you’re baptized.
Dennis: Here you are: you’re this on-fire 16-year-old, who now has been baptized; you’ve been to a conference and surrendered to God’s call on your life to move into fulltime Christian ministry. I can only imagine, when you went back to Columbia—
Bob: —yes, how that news went over; yes.
Dennis: —and back to where your two moms lived in Kansas City. How did those conversations go down?
Caleb: Well, it went down just about like a lead balloon would. You ever rode in a lead balloon before?
Bob: —just crashed.
Caleb: It crashed; it wouldn’t get up [in] the air. I mean, I had committed the unpardonable sin; right?
Bob: Becoming a Christian’s one thing; now, saying, “I want to be a pastor.”
Dennis: “I’m all in.”
Caleb: And throw on top of that: “Hey, I’ve changed my view of sexuality.”
Caleb: Now, I’m one of them in their eyes. The people that were supposed to show me tolerance; they were showing me anything but tolerance.
Dennis: How did you do, loving your mom, in that situation?
Caleb: It was difficult at first. But I got encouragement from my friends, saying, “Caleb, you need to love her no matter what.”
I started reading the New Testament. Whenever I had free time, I was reading, reading, reading—reading, especially, the words of Jesus—and then moving on to Romans, so on and so forth. I really latched onto what Jesus said there—and the mercy that He said, and even in The Beatitudes—when Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy” [Matthew 5:7].
I cannot own how my mother treats me; I cannot own how somebody else reacts to me. What I can own is my own reactions—how I respond and what I do—that is what God holds me accountable to. I can own how I’m going to love people, no matter what; follow the example of Jesus, when He was hanging on the cross and He said, “Father forgive them; they don’t know what they’re doing” [Luke 23:34]. Now, if the Son of God, who was innocent, could say that, after everything He went through, I’m pretty sure I could look at my mom and say, “I forgive you.”
Michelle: Caleb Kaltenbach: he wasn’t treated with love and respect, but he offered love and respect; he offered grace.
Caleb’s an author and conference speaker. He and his wife, Amy, and their two kids live in Southern California. The cool part of that story is that, when he was pastoring a church in Texas, his mom and his dad, independent from each other, moved to Texas to be with Caleb’s family. They went to church to Caleb’s church and, independent of each other, they became Christians. They got to know the Jesus Christ, [whom] Caleb had been telling them about since he was 16 years old.
There’s a lot of Caleb’s story that I wasn’t able to share today because of our short time. It’s an incredible story of how God used a young man to win his family for Christ. I encourage you to go to our website and listen to the entire story: FamilyLifethisWeek.com.
We’ve been talking about grace today. We’ve been talking about how it plays out in our relationships: in our marriage relationships, and our parenting, and in our friendships. I just want to leave you with this thought from Tim Kimmel on grace.
[Previous FamilyLife Today Broadcast]
Tim: Grace is giving somebody something they desperately need but don’t necessarily deserve. That’s what happened at the cross when Jesus intervened in time/space for all of us. He gave us grace.
But when I look at our marriages, I think we tend to lead with the word, “love.” Love is an intrinsic part of just about anybody’s life—that’s what we share—our vows of love. But I think the missing ingredient in most people’s marriage is not love; I believe it’s grace. When they bring God’s grace to center stage, now, that love can endure and get stronger.
Bob: If God’s grace is giving me what I need but don’t deserve, then grace in a marriage is when we give one another things we need but don’t deserve?
Tim: Yes; I think the problem with us, human beings/even us Christian human beings, is that, when we get married, like it or not, we tend to keep a tally sheet in our hand. We’re keeping score as we go. We feel that that’s completely legitimate, even though we would, to our dying breath, we’d say we love each other incredibly. But because we’re keeping score, it’s easy to start thinking, “I don’t think they’re pulling their part of the deal on this.” We start a quid pro quo arrangement, and this is the antithesis of the way God deals with us.
All we’re saying in this book is: “Why don’t we treat our spouse the way God treats His spouse with grace?” When we realize that the God who made us: realize that there’s no way we could have a relationship with Him, because of the sin in our own life; that He loved us enough to intervene in time/space, take on human flesh, and climb up on a cross and ask us to marry Him on a cross. He gave His life as a substitute for our sin. When you simply put your faith in what He did on the cross for you and say, “Jesus, I need You. Please forgive me. Set me free from my sin.” Just like that, He enters our life; and He does set us free. But in the process, we get all of God, too; and we get all of His grace. He says, “Now let Me grow My grace in your heart. Let me transplant My heart into you.”
First few decades or two of our—you know it was a lot of autumn season and winter season in our relationship—but it was just we let God continue to grow in our life.
Dennis: To that person, who wants to do that right now, take his hand or her hand in yours, and put it in the hands of God. Explain—
Bob: Do what you did with Darcy—
Bob: —back in the car/back when you were kids because you—our listeners don’t know this: but you were the one who led your wife to Christ prior to you guys getting married; right?
Tim: That’s right. She was 15, and I was 16 and [was] just on the front-side of my own faith.
If you’re here, and you’re listening to us right now, and you realize: “The missing ingredient in my life is this grace; but even bigger, it’s Jesus,” you can invite Him into your life right now simply by faith. Just repeat this prayer after me in your heart. Just say: “Dear Jesus, I need You. I know that I’m a sinner; and because of my sin, I’m lost. I know now that You love me and You gave Your life for me, so please forgive me and make my life new. Amen.”
Michelle: Tim Kimmel helping us pray the most important prayer we could ever pray. It reminds me of Romans 10, verse 9, because: “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
If that was a prayer of your heart today, just let me say, there are angels that are celebrating and rejoicing in heaven right now. If you prayed that prayer, I am so excited for you; you are on your way to a grace-filled life. We have resources at our website to help you in this new faith/to help you understand and help you grow. That’s at FamilyLifeThisWeek.com; that’s FamilyLifeThisWeek.com.
Coming up next week we are going to talk with a mom, who admits that it’s hard being a mom. If you can resonate with that, I think you’ll want to tune in to FamilyLife This Week next weekend. Hope you can join us for that.
Hey, thanks for listening! I want to the cofounder of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and our president, David Robbins, along with our station partners around the country. A big “Thank you!” to our team who makes this all possible—they are beyond grace-filled towards me; that is for sure—to Keith Lynch; our producers, Phil Kraus, Marques Holt, Justin Adams, and Megan Martin.
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