Archive for June, 2013

A small group of people in a Bible discussion group are looking at some stuff Jesus said or what the practice of the early church was. They knew that to take Jesus at his word or believe the church was totally on target was going to alter their lifestyle both individually and as a church. So what did they do? Each one began to make suggestions about what Jesus probably meant. It became clear that no one was ready to take Jesus at his word or believe the early church could be a

Rationalizing...

Rationalizing… (Photo credit: gregoryperez)

model for how to do church today.

Slowly over the years we have deliberately minimized or explained away those aspects of following Jesus that disrupt the way we want to live or practice doing church with others. In so doing, we have depreciated what Jesus was all about. In our bent to be comfortable, we do not tolerate anything that is difficult or makes us think. Besides, we don’t know any of our friends who live like this. I mean, it is one thing to be a Christian but this is the 21st century and we have to make Jesus’ hard words fit into this culture. Really?

Does culture explain the gospel or does the gospel interpret what is right or wrong about cultureIn John 6 Jesus is intent on people knowing what he is after. He is coloring outside of their box and he doesn’t care if some are going to bail. He makes no compromises as to what a disciple (follower) is to be, what they are to do and how they are to live. Almost everyone leaves and Jesus watches them walk away. Some probably ran.

And the early church…check out Acts 4:32-35. How do we change this mark of the church to fit our lifestyle? When was the last time you saw this consistently happening?

Whatever else this all means, one thing is certain-Jesus underscores the simplicity of following him while reminding us of the cost.

Why do we avoid everything that makes us uncomfortable, forces us to look at life from a much different perspective than we have always had, drives us deep into our soul and is painful to consider differences? It is only when we are seriously challenged like this that we learn the heart of God, have the veil pulled back a little more and understand the depths to which God loves us and others.

On every overseas trip my wife and I have had we have been forced to look at how to do life with God in different ways. We h

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. S...

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. So if you’re feeling uncomfortable right now, know that the change taking place in your life is a beginning, not an ending. (Photo credit: deeplifequotes)

ave been stretched to see how God speaks to people in different cultures often in different ways. It has made us think and has greatly enlarged our understanding of the essentials of the Christian life.

In order to do church and experience the life God wants us to have we must embrace the tough things that force us to not look at life like a straight line but as a line with many dashes in it that often curves and in some cases looks blank. God knows exactly what it takes for each of us to experience and enjoy his life, so let’s get out of the leather boy chair Christian lifestyle and experience God in ways we could never imagine. He’s really for us.

A further look: Jeremiah 33:3; Acts 8:1-8; and 1 Corinthians 13:12

English: Dzong (fort) in Punakha (a place name...

English: Dzong (fort) in Punakha (a place name) in central Bhutan. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yesterday I attended Refugee Day in Boise, Idaho. Along with having Ploff (a national food of rice, carrots, onion and other ingredients) from Uzbekistan, I witnessed about 20 refugees from various countries become citizens of the United States. Among them was a man from Bhutan. Most of us have no idea whether Bhutan is the name of a dog, a city in California or who knows what. It is however, a very secluded country in Asia. I have always thought about how much I would love to visit Bhutan and take in all of its wonders, hidden secrets and glimpses of ordinary life there. What an adventure that would be!

The difference between a few days in Bhutan or several trips on a roller coaster cannot be adequately compared, But then, how many people do you know who agree with Jesus and believe to a point that they might even show up at religious meetings or occasional conferences with well known speakers? These events can be exciting but adventure…not even close.

Following Jesus (aka obedience), is where it’s at. Excitement only opens the door but following Jesus shows us the entire house. John 14:21 speaks to this and also reveals something about our relationship with the owner of the house. James 1:25 also suggests that to believe in Jesus is like “catching a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God…” Message Trans. However, if we follow Jesus according to his definition, the adventure begins.

So, why are we satisfied with excitement when adventure is screaming at the top of its voice?

Party Time?

Party Time? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Quick Word   We moved from Loveland, Colorado to Boise, Idaho and I have been out of it for the last 8 days. We survived the Wyoming wind and are back on track.

I remember singing a song when I was about 6 or 10 years old with a phrase in it something like “I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back.” What did that mean? I never asked the question and certainly wouldn’t have had a clue what it meant. But, I could sing it anyway right, because everyone else did.

It is so easy to talk or sing or shout about following Jesus without any clue as to what is involved. But what if just as you are thinking that this is really cool, Jesus shows up and says “strap on the parachute, you’re gonna love the view.” You are willing to take the plane ride but no way are you going to check out how gravity feels at 5000 feet.

Jesus isn’t going to play the card game “hand and foot” with you today. He is going to train you to fight against an enemy and it is going to cost you the secret sin in your thought life you thought no one knows. It will also mean dealing with the control issue you have with your spouse. It gets really hard when Jesus suggests you go with him next Sunday morning to a dynamite fishing spot that will take all day. How could you miss “church” to be with Jesus in the wild?

Why not let Jesus define what following him means rather than accepting definitions that come from who knows where? Maybe it should be like what a couple of gals in New York did-they said “let’s read the gospels and do everything Jesus said.” Simple…but at a price most are unwilling to pay. Take some extended time to think on John 6:47-59.

Woke up this morning on our last weekend in Colorado hoping to find that the weather would smile and say something like “have a great weekend.” Well that lasted for 30 minutes and the wind woke up to about 30 mph from the north and will last through the day. I know its lame but we really did want to sit outside at Daz Bog and have one final coffee.

There are times when life is so spanking hard that you wonder if you are on the wrong planet. I know not sitting outside drinking coffee does not really qualify for “hard and difficult”, but each of us knows the absolute nightmare of getting up for another day of… It is easy to conclude after days, months or years of ongoing physical, mental or emotional tragedies that God is on a vacation or really does not care about what we are dealing with. This is the absolute goal of the enemy-he always blogs about how God is not who we really think he is or how he has described himself in the Bible.

But consider our bro, Paul who described a couple of incidents in his life of joyfully following Jesus in the middle of hard stuff. 2 Corinthians 1:8 and 9 and 12:9 and 10 sum it up and cause me to pause when I complain about wind or any discomfort. God always loves us and has our best interest in mind but this truth will be tested almost without interruption. Check out Jeremiah 29:11.

Paul concluded that all of this junk causes us to rely on God and not ourselves and that when we are at our weakest, God begins his supernatural “guess who’s really in control” act. We have to press through the challenges, difficulties, frustrations and disappointments to ever realize how much God is on our side.

Book of Challenges

Book of Challenges (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It seems to happen with increasing regularity-a sports figure is accused of or admits to taking some kind of steroid which gives them an advantage in their sport. It takes a while to detect but the results are the same. Not only is the person’s selfishness exposed but the entire team is damaged and the sport is tarnished.

If our focus is that we would be recognized or that we would be the one who contributes most to the win, we have missed the point. In order for a community of believers to go deeper into each other’s lives, the focus must be on helping each other succeed. We can learn to do this by exposing our needs and our weaknesses as well as how we are winning the battle. We can learn to ask questions of each other that expresses genuine interest in the other person and is motivated by their succeeding in the daily war we have with life and the enemy.

Philippians 2:3 and 4 captures the thought. “…don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.” (The Message) Building community is hard enough in the fast paced culture we live in, but let’s not cripple it by drawing attention to ourselves rather than the rest of the team. Everyone has the opportunity to win the battles life serves up to us each day when we are committed to each other in this way.

Given the choice, most of us would prefer to drive a car with heated seats, is

Inconvenience

Inconvenience (Photo credit: futureshape)

extremely comfortable, never needs repairs…you get the idea. Why would we choose one that has a window that does not quite roll all the way up, whose heater occasionally works and has no air conditioning? That one can stay on the used car lot even if it was offered to us free.

When are we really a neighbor? If we move into neighborhoods that are protected by American Home Shield, it is likely we might meet those living around us because they are probably safe. I mean, when they moved in we didn’t see them unloading various knives or weapons we can’t pronounce. We could easily invite them over for a BBQ.

But a neighbor is one who gets excited about who just moved in next door or who they just met at the gas station because now they have the opportunity to show them just how much God really loves them. It doesn’t matter they wear a black leather jacket, don’t wear shoes most of the time, have hair the length of your sister’s or have a very interesting tattoo visible all of the time. And what if they just moved in from Somalia?

If we have concluded that God brought this person into our life to learn that Jesus is more than an exclamation mark in a conversation, then we can be the real neighbor.

Check out Luke 10:29-37. Given the choice, most people are never going to live in neighborhoods where they have to be inconvenienced by other’s needs. The possibility of an assault happening does not check one of their boxes. But the real neighbor is ready to love people that God intersects their life with anywhere and anytime. God knows who these people are and is thrilled to give them the opportunity to accurately define  neighbor.