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GraceNotes Podcast

Religion & Spirituality Podcasts

GraceNotes is a weekly publication of Bill Knott, Editor/Executive Publisher of Adventist Review/Adventist World magazines.

GraceNotes is a weekly publication of Bill Knott, Editor/Executive Publisher of Adventist Review/Adventist World magazines.


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GraceNotes is a weekly publication of Bill Knott, Editor/Executive Publisher of Adventist Review/Adventist World magazines.






FIRST LIGHT (February 21, 2020)

Good news is only good because the other news isn’t good. It’s the contrast between light and darkness that makes us glad for everything that’s lit and bright and warm. And the Bible is unsparingly honest about our real condition—about the bad news—of our lostness and our darkness. We got what we deserved: we reaped what we sowed. The news couldn’t get any worse. We were the people sitting in darkness. But then a great light dawned. The gospel of the Father’s unending, untiring affection for...


THE STRUGGLE TO FORGIVE (February 14, 2020)

Of all the sins to which we fall, none makes us feel so smug as vengeance. When we’re the injured ones, the hurting ones—acknowledged victims of some sin—we live a perilously long moment of unexpected power. The voices of our culture ring too loudly in our ears: “Retaliate. Require groveling. Make certain that they’ll never hurt you—or anyone—like that again.” And sometimes in our weakness, we savor the imagination of how much pain we could inflict—all righteously, of course. We picture...


THE PACE OF GRACE (February 7, 2020)

Humility is not in vogue—either in the magazine or in the culture. It’s an age of self-assertion, self-promotion, fueled by surging expectations that we should win an ever-larger share of likes, or votes, or ratings. And so we miss a central pillar of the “law of Christ”—that we should bear each other’s burdens. For the secularist, this makes no sense, for all of life is deemed a competition for vanishing resources—money, spouses, power, or fame. That we would slow our sprint to walk beside...


A PLACE AT THE TABLE (January 31, 2020)

What Christians call the “fruit of the Spirit”—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control—is food the world needs. It’s not a banquet to which only believers are invited. These are all relational graces: each is only meaningful when there’s a lack of it. We’re never called to dine alone—to only private holiness. We learn these graces at the table from those who have themselves learned patience, peace and self-control in other times, at other...


THE BEST NEWS (January 24, 2020)

What we call “the gospel” is an announcement of our true standing before a holy God because of the saving work of Jesus, in whom we place all our confidence. It’s not the same thing as how we feel about ourselves, or an estimate of our progress in living a good life. Our emotions—including our assessments of our spiritual experience—are subject to the vagaries of weather, backaches, or what we ate too late for dinner last night. There are days on which for reasons we can’t fully articulate,...


LEARNING TO WALK AGAIN (January 17, 2020)

It’s certainly part of God’s unfolding grace to not reveal how little we’ve understood until we’re further down His road. At first, we catch stray glimpses of ourselves—ungainly; sometimes tripping over stones; embarrassed, not repentant. We judge that we can quickly find our stride—that we can overcome our slowness by more practice. And then we learn that more is broken than we knew—that all that looked like confidence and legs was our attempt to fool ourselves, defend our pride, and keep...


A PSALM OF GRACE (January 10, 2020)

Deliver me, O Lord, from cool and graceless places where the righteous cluster often to adjust their reputations. Save me from gatherings where no pulses ever quicken, where no tears are ever shed, where sinners are not swallowed up in oversized embraces. Keep me from walking into snares where theology is scrutinized, but no one wants to hear of Your tenacious love for me. Surround me, God, with those who know the pain of brokenness—and know how rich Your healing is. Encircle me with men and...



Make covenants, not resolutions, as you walk into the year, for covenants give us company in keeping what we pledge. A resolution with no witness is too often just a wish, a good intention with nothing but our declining willpower to make the vital difference. The covenants we really need are bigger than our diets and more urgent than our visits to the gym. We need companions to whom we’ll make the most important promises of all: to tell each other just the truth; to remind each other of how...


WALKING ACROSS THE LINE (December 27, 2019)

The waning days of this old year remind us we ought never walk alone. We need three things to end December: forgiveness for the wrongs we’ve done; the healing of our wounded memories; assurances that we will have safe company in days and miles ahead. The gospel tells us we have all of these in Jesus. His blood alone removes our shame and stains. His reconciliation shields us from hard-earned, high-priced bitterness. His promise to stay with us—in every hour, in every age—gives courage on...


DELIVERED INTO LIGHT (December 20, 2019)

In the middle of the carol, or the middle of the night; when the parties all are ended, and the sales all suspended; when our hearts are warmed by kindness never earned and not deserved—then we sense again the rescue that is Christmas. We were the people sitting in darkness, and on us the light has dawned. We were those aching for deliverance—from ourselves, from our stuff, from our sins, from our sadness. The gospel every Christmas—and each day throughout the year—is amazingly adapted to...


NOT JUST DECEMBER 25 (December 13, 2019)

I hope you smell the balsam wreaths again this Christmas season. But I pray you also see in your imagination wreaths of fragrant incense rising up in heaven where Scripture says our Saviour “lives eternally to intercede for us” (Heb 7:25). I hope you hear the cherub choirs this Christmas, decked in bows, all shiny bright; but even more, the angel hosts that John the Revelator heard. They sing not only “Peace on earth,” but “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and...


NO STRINGS ATTACHED (December 6, 2019)

We trade our gifts on Christmas Eve, or Christmas morn, or some convenient holiday. We wait to see a grateful smile, or wide-eyed wonder on a child’s face—all quietly aware our turn is next: the next gift will be handed us. And though this pageant brings us joy, and warms our hearts, we dare not say it represents the gospel, even though it’s full of gifts. Our calculations typically are tuned to give of equal value. We won’t embarrass others with extravagance that they can’t match, nor do we...


FULLY IDENTIFIED (November 29,2019)

It would have been grace enough if the Father had executively announced from heaven’s throne that He was commuting our deserved sentences and opening all prison doors. That would have been the very definition of unimaginable and unmerited favor. But that His Son should condescend to crawl into our hovels, be one of us, experience our dirt and pain, and taste the worst of weakness and of cruelty—that’s more than we dared ask or think. Grace took on flesh and bone, and all the drudgery and...


GRACE AT THE GATES (November 22, 2019)

The act of giving thanks—whispered at each common meal, or once a year at family dinners on big holidays—is an early, hopeful flag that grace has come to live with us. For a moment—for one long, exhaling moment—we acknowledge the truth of what the apostle wrote 2000 years ago: “You are not your own: you have been bought with a price” (I Cor 6:19-20). For an instant, the guard is down, the drawbridge open, and we admit that we aren’t self-made or even self-sustained. The castle of our lives...


THE END OF MAGIC (November 15, 2019)

The greatest illusion isn’t some card trick that leaves us gasping, or rabbits pulled from a performer’s hat. No, far greater is the fantasy that makes us think we’ll satisfy God’s holiness by saying “no” to salty snacks, or overcome our deficits by working longer, harder, better. This “sleight of hand” is hardly slight, for we deceive ourselves whenever we pretend our brokenness is of the fingernail—instead of the fatal—kind. Grace requires we surrender our illusion that heaven is within...


CAN YOU HANDLE THE TRUTH? (November 8, 2019)

Now would be a good moment to start telling ourselves the truth. I can no more make myself acceptable to God by right living or good choices than I can learn to levitate, fly unaided through the solar system, or pick strawberries on the moon. The myth of legalism fools us into assuming that there are just a few steps left between our holiness and the holiness of God. It grossly underestimates both God’s essential goodness and our essential lostness. Oddly, legalism teaches us to lie to...


MORE DAY TO DAWN (November 1, 2019)

“Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take; The clouds ye so much dread Are big with mercy and shall break In blessings on your head.” It’s every believer’s lot to occasionally grow anxious, to lose peace, to doubt that a good God really wants to do good things for us. We remember all our sins—years after He has chosen to forget them. We cringe at indiscretions, which in His discretion He has graciously erased from our life record. And so we crouch into the future, heads down, half-expecting...


CROSS PURPOSES (October 25, 2019)

Be wary of the vengeance that your bitterness demands. The blade you wield will cut both ways to injure you and those you wound: you both will bleed. Retaliation never was so cool and final as it seems in all the movies. There’s always more to pay—more pain, more cuts, more haggard hearts. No grudge was ever settled save by love. Christ’s wounded majesty and broken law didn’t move him to abandon us or push us toward our fate. No, He stepped closer after being injured, and embraced us in our...


STAYING IN THE RACE (October 18, 2019)

Grace doesn’t gloat when others lose, nor grow dejected when another takes the flag. It isn’t glum when others swell with self-importance, nor filled with glee when rivals lose their footing. Salvation never was a zero-sum game, for there can be millions—no, make that billions—who finish the course and win the prize. The waiting crown comes in as many sizes as those who run the race. But finding grace will always be a winner-take-all contest. All whom Christ saves win all of Him—eternal...


A CIRCLE OF FORGIVENESS (October 11, 2019)

As Christ grows greater in our minds, we lose our need to be authorities over what others think and do. The deepening awareness that we have been wrong more than we have been right—that we are only now approaching the starting point of faith—creates a gentle tolerance for those now camped where we once stopped, or mired in the stuff from which Christ freed us. We learn to smile at vehemence and vitriol, remembering how frequently we used them for bad causes or when we were still unsure....