Tag Archives: grace

At the Cross between Grace and Truth

at the cross between grace and truthI’m seeking relationship and honesty in my life as a Christ-follower. For so long I’ve been caught the trenches over which is more important: Truth vs. Grace. Some parts of my spiritual background included rigorous love of the truth – often at the cost of hurting the individual. In other seasons it’s been limitless grace, but weak on the challenge to live out God’s standards. Both had powerful qualities that were God inspired, but they both lacked the true intent of God’s design.

Right now I’m centering on this:

John 1:
14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
16 From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.
17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

The perfect balance of Grace and Truth is in Christ… he knows us as we are (broken) but doesn’t leave us that way. Jesus fulfills God’s righteous requirement and gives us the tangible example of how we can become the righteousness of God as well.

I really want to be who God created me to be. For so long I’ve suffered under the impressions of who other people think I am. I’ve been misjudged, underestimated, overlooked, scrutinized, mistreated. But God is restoring me to my “created in His image and likeness” identity. He’s taken away the guilt and called me back to himself. BUT IT’S NOT EASY!! I’m used to sharing only part of me… the good parts. I’ve spent so many years keeping the ugly neatly tucked out of sight. How do I “…put off falsehood and speak truthfully to my neighbor…” (Eph. 4:25) about the stuff that in most Churches you’d be better off hiding?

I’m taking it day by day. I’m challenging myself to do life differently. To have real relationships where I’m totally honest about myself… and where it’s SAFE to do so… but also where I’m challenged to pursue what God has perused me for. This takes TIME… and I’m not going rush the process. I hope you’ll be one of those who come with me and we can do real life together!

Love Always!

Sharing My Story

Darren\'s first time singing with Willow ChicagoSunday was the close of the 3-week series on “Desire: the double edged swords of money, power, and sex”  at Willow Creek.  Before every service we have a time of prayer in the back.  I wasn’t there Saturday night, so Sunday morning was my first time hearing the message – and I was nothing but tears through every song.  So before the last service, I asked to share a my testimony with the group during prayer time.  I didn’t get out all the details that I wanted to, but I’m inspired to share some of it here.

For me, this service basically marks a year of me singing with Willow Chicago.  My first time singing was with the Chicago choir at Barrington for the Wednesday night New Community service in the summer of 2007.  That day we sang “I Just Can’t Give Up Now” and it was the beginning of me becoming part of the Willow Family.

In our prayer time today, I shared that when I came to Willow I wasn’t looking for a church home.  I was hurt and broken from the rejection / abandonment I received at my previous church due to my struggles with sexual sin.  I’d gone to them for help when things became out of control… and though I did all that they asked I do to “get free” – I wasn’t getting healed fast enough, or the way they expected.  It eventually caused them to exclude me from ministry.  This happened rather abruptly and little discussion and no follow-up.  The way things happened left me feeling hurt and bitter and out of fellowship for a year before I started seeking another place to be connected to the Body of believers.  I didn’t want to not be in church, I was just too hurt to go back to what was then my church.  This is when I decided to check out the church I’d seen billboards for on the L Train Platforms: Willow Creek Chicago.

From day one it seems I was connecting with a new and wonderful church, but the question still remained: would I be rejected again if they knew my battle? (and my failures?) I didn’t want to be a part of another church where it would have been better to hide and stay in the dark than to expose the truth and live in the Light.  So I told Pastor Steve and the ministry leaders about my issues.

I was received with care and with love.  Steve saw that I needed to be involved in Worship because of how life-giving it was for me.  The ministry team rallied around me in support and love – even thanking me for my transparency and openness!  To this day their love amazes me and encourages my faith in the difficult process of healing and change.

I still struggle (daily), but I’m no longer struggling with the need to prove my spirituality or spiritual growth to anyone.  I don’t feel the pressure to keep up some facade just because I’m ‘a minister’.  I feel like I can truly connect with the people I worship with and love and be loved.  I feel the amazing effects of God’s grace.  I’m learning how to form healthy relationships that in a Godly way fill the voids in my heart.  I’m getting the wise council that I yearned for, but could not find.  I’m even experiencing small victories and seeing patterns and habits change.

I’m in a difficult season right now as well.  I’m JUST learning about my needs for validation and approval.  Learning about unsafe places where I’ve sought safety and security in the past, and beginning to take steps to build more healthy and safe relationships and repair old ones.  I’m seeing my thought patterns that for ages have kept me bound by fear and limited my potential socially, financially, emotionally, and relationally.  It’s so difficult for me sometimes when I look at ALL that needs to be fixed right now. But I try to stay focused on one thing at a time, keep encouraged, and bit-by-bit open up more to those God has placed around me so I don’t have to face this thing called life alone.

Maybe someone reading this is down or needs encouragement.  To you I say: keep smiling, not because it just looks good but because eventually it’ll all be good and you have a great and eternal hope in God.  (Ok… that was really for me but I just thought I’d share! 😉 )

Renew Me / Everything He Promised

Good morning!
Listen to Renew Me by Martha Munizzi : http://www.napster.com/player/tracks/16499703

This has been an AWESOME morning for me.  Last night I had the opportunity to sit down and fellowship with a man of God.  In our conversation, I was reminded of my purpose and what God is doing in my life.  I received confirmation that God’s plan is active and God’s agenda is being pushed.  I went home with conviction and encouragement.

This morning I downloaded two songs in particular to listen to: “Renew Me” by Martha Munizzi and “Everything He Promised” by Dorinda Clark-Cole

The first song is a prayer song… “Renew me, remake me, create in me a clean heart oh God / Restore me, transform me, create in me a clean heart o God/ Restore me, transform me, create in me a clean heart o God/ Change my heart O Lord, I’m broken before you now, Take me as I am, receive this sacrifice.”

This captures what has been my prayer for years now.  As I’ve faced my struggles, my cry has been “Lord Change My Heart… that my life may be renewed” and as I look back, I’m seeing God– step by step– doing just that!

Listen to Everything He Promised by Dorinda Clark-Cole : http://www.napster.com/player/tracks/15492550

This is the second song that blessed me overwhelmingly this morning.  I literally cried as I sat on the train listening to this song. It’s a song of rejoicing in the fact that God is bringing to pass everything he promised.  I’m overwhelmed with thanks and praise for God bringing be back to Chicago and sustaining me.  It has been difficult, but the reality of the situation is that I’m STILL HERE!  God is STILL WORKING! and THE PROMISE IS ON THE WAY!

One line of the song repeats “The tears you’ve sown… you’ll reap with Joy” and indeed I’m expecting my harvest!  God’s love is amazing.  His plan is sure.  And I’m just happy about it!

I hope you’ll be able to listen to these songs and that they will in some way be as much an encouragement and a blessing to you as they have been to me today.  I love each of you and appreciate God placing you in my life.

The last lines of the song say “Don’t give up! Go All The Way! You’re Almost There!” and that is my encouragement to each person reading this!

Still Standing In His Grace
Darren Calhoun

Tuesday June 20, 2006 – 10:01am (CDT)

GRACE is Amazing


Just taking a little time to share some of the lyrics that are encouraging my heart right now.

God Believes In You

Pierce Pettis (©Polygram International Publishing/Piercepettisongs) \

When you start to doubt that you exist, God believes in you
Confounded by the evidence, God believes in you
When your light burns so dim, when your chances seem so slim
And you swear you don’t believe in him, God believes in you
When you rise up just to fall again, God believes in you
Deserted by your closest friends, God believes in you
When you’re betrayed with a kiss, you turn your cheek to another fist
It dose not have to end like this, God believes in you
Oh everything matters if anything matters at all
Everything matters no matter how big, no matter how small
Oh God believes in you, God believes in you
When you’re so ashamed that you could die, God believes in you
And you can’t do right even though you try, God believes in you
Blessed are the ones who grieve, the ones who mourn, the ones who bleed
In sorrow you sow but in joy you reap, God believes in you

Big Daddy Weave
Album: What I Was Made For
Song: Just The Way I Am

Unbelievable, I’m blown away it’s true By the matchless love that I’ve found in You Undeniable, the change in me I’ve never felt so free It makes me want to dance You make me want to dance When I think about how You love me, You love me You love me just the way I am You love me, You love me You love me just the way, Just the way I am Ever patiently accepting me You love in spite of everything I do But oh so faithfully You’re committed to the process that makes me like You And I feel like I can dance Oh You make me want to dance When I think about how Not when I’m good enough Not when I clean my act up Not when I cross that line the thousandth time And become a better man Your grace is more than enough To cover all my sins You washed them away So right here today You love me just the way I am

So that’s what’s up.
I’m coming to one of the most difficult places I’ve ever been spiritually.
Till we meet again in His Love,

Monday October 10, 2005 – 10:15pm (CDT)