Archive for October, 2013

Focus (German magazine)

Focus (German magazine) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What if you found an old coin that was from some other country and since you could barely read it and definitely couldn’t spend it at any store, you tossed it into the trash thinking “what a useless piece of metal.” Then you read about someone finding that very coin, cleaned it up a bit and took it to a coin dealer who was so startled he almost fell out of his chair. The coin dealer knew this was a very valuable piece of metal that would allow someone to retire before reaching 50 years of age.

We frequently do this with a verse of scripture thinking either it has no applicable meaning for us today or it is just something too difficult to understand. What if this verse had some meaning we desperately need to understand and deal with in our culture?

Take for example Luke 9:58. We may have casually read the part that says “…the Son of man, has no place to lay his head” and quickly dismiss a significant statement that is pregnant with essential truth for us in this generation.

Jesus was homeless but always had a place to sleep. So why is this included in our Bible? We say we are following Jesus so where should our focus be if we are following a homeless man? The attractions of Jesus’ world were definitely different than ours but the truth is the same. This is not talking about selling our house and getting rid of everything in it (although it could), but rather it is talking about our focus in life that must be on what Jesus being homeless represents. Nothing in our culture will dominate our focus if we are following Jesus. If we are focused on our home, style of car, trips to take, a certain sports team, or the latest thing on sale we really don’t need, it can easily become idolatry.

We should not throw out scripture that doesn’t seem to relate to us, it may be more significant than we think. Don’t discard it when you really know that to act on it will change your lifestyle. Would we really want Jesus to show up to our small group and ask us if we wanted him to tell us what he had in mind for us and how we should be living today? Is that scary or exciting?

Learning by Doing

Learning by Doing (Photo credit: BrianCSmith)

In 1991 I took several students to Athens, Greece on an 8 week summer mission project to work with refugees from several countries. The main purpose was to help these students learn in real life and from challenging situations, some aspects of what it meant to be a disciple of Jesus. Tight sleeping quarters, strange food (for us), language barriers, major traffic (5 million live in Athens) all contributed to our learning.

We could have done a Bible study on selfishness or how to get along with people who don’t agree with you, while sitting at Starbucks in Denver but that would be an inadequate setting to really learn about these aspects of life. It is doing life together where learning intersects our biases and preferences. It disturbs our comfortable lifestyle when you want Mexican food but there are no restaurants of this nature in sight.

When Jesus called the potential disciples to “come follow me” in Matthew 4:19, his plan was to spend almost 3 years with them in situations that would have caused most of us to change the channel on our TV and continue continue eating our popcorn. But think of what they would learn and how they would be impacted forever. Or consider what Timothy learned from Paul as seen in 2 Timothy 3:10 and 11. This could not have adequately been taught in a sterile environment.

Implications: Messages delivered on Sunday mornings, Bible studies in a living room, teaching done in an auditorium are ok but fail to deliver the necessary visual aid that only happens as we share life together.

How can you begin to learn like this and help others learn by sharing life together?

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Journey to the East: Route Map

Journey to the East: Route Map (Photo credit: premasagar)

I recently read a challenging verse in Genesis 46:2 in the Word on the Street. God stopped me cold on this one. During the night God downloaded a dream into Israel’s sleep and said : I’m God, your father’s God. Don’t panic; enjoy the journey down to Egypt.”

If it’s not today, it probably will be tomorrow but everyone usually comes to a place where you wonder if you got on the right bus. I mean, so much looks different while being the same. The people speak your language (most of the time), they drive cars like you do, trees are trees everywhere but for whatever reason you’re left wondering. I was thinking about this since our move to Boise. We did come with a blank page but there are only a couple of sentences and a photo now on the page while most of it remains blank.

Then God said “I’m God…don’t panic…enjoy the journey…” This was totally reassuring and I said ok. That day seemed different. I could relax and truly believe God was in control and therefore knew what he was doing. Boise is not Egypt but it is out there. It is the most remote destination city in the USA. While walking downtown that day I had an overwhelming sense of this being the place I want to be and that I can enjoy what God sees that I don’t yet. I actually thought that I enjoyed being here more than Boulder, Colorado and that is beyond bizarre. The beautiful walk on my way to the Java coffee shop could not have been improved in any way. I was meeting with a man to discuss what God was doing here. It was one of those electric moments where you just really knew…

Is there growing evidence in your life that shows you are walking away from the evidence the enemy presents as he details his distorted facts about God and his relentless love for you and I? We can enjoy the journey because God’s map is so much more exciting than any Google Map application.

We’ve heard it so many times that it hardly matters anymore. We know that when we became a follower of Jesus it was supposed to be different. Life as we know it was going to look different but as we looked around at others who said they also were following Jesus, we noticed there was not really much difference in their attitudes, perspectives and lifestyles than our neighbors who know the names of almost every bar tender in town.

The playbook says in 2 Corinthians 5:17 that our old categories of what matters are completely different, our lifestyle of extravagance, our insatiable desires for the upgrades of everything, conversations and about everything else are to be checked out by the new coach. If there is no noticeable difference in how we live other than getting up at a different hour to head to the spiritual zone for a challenge that we have concluded is neat but impossible to live up to, no one is going to ask us to help them figure out life and faith. 

We can watch the “how to follow Jesus” training videos from the couch and think we are really up to speed on this but by the next day we are back with the same attitudes, culturally flavored desires, and left wondering if any of it is real. We may have been “genetically modified” which does not get at what Paul is telling us.

If we are living completely different, we experience a freedom from the chains that have imprisoned us and everyone we know. We need to decide today if we are going to live with the understanding of God being in control or really live

SuperLambBanana3

SuperLambBanana3 (Photo credit: Haversack)

that way. Oh, also check out James 1:22-25 on the subject.