Archive for December, 2013

Decisions

Decisions (Photo credit: _Hadock_)

Think about it-one day  too long ago for anyone to remember or understand, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit decided that Jesus would enter our planet disguised as a seemingly insignificant event to most people in that day (as well as ours). Much later, some of us made one decision to invite Jesus to start calling the shots in our life and we decided to follow Him. As time went on, God made it more clear to us what following Jesus really meant. Reaffirming this decision and meaning it, alters the course of our life.

One day King David decided to skip “war class” and stay at home. He then decided to check out the scenery from his roof and the rest of the story is stored in the Bible data base of 2 Samuel 11. His decision had dire consequences. Some decisions wreck more than we could ever imagine.

God also decided that one day He would reveal who He is through us when we asked Him to change our life. The only way we really know we have decided to follow Jesus is that other people don’t just hear us talk about it but really do see that we live differently. But this is a decision we must make not for one day but every day.

Punch the “enter” key and watch God change everything-your perspective, your relationships, your strategies about how to make life/ministry work. God has the file available for everyone. Hit the enter key and get ready. When we hit that key God’s power is released to not only change us but also to show others how they can experience “what they don’t know they need.”

There are four men I have met in my lifetime who have altered the direction of my life. Two of these men you may have heard of and the others you probably have not. What was it in their life that caused me to pause and take a look at life differently? Talking with and hanging out with these men was like reading a different book. I learned from each of them by looking deeply into the story each of them was telling through their life.

Larry Hinson introduced me to Jesus as we played hand ball, shared chicken dinners together and walked around campus over a couple of years. His willingness to be in my life was a book I was unaccustomed to reading. Max Barnett’s life opened my eyes to how God could use anyone’s life and I discovered the word “vision” from him. I spent a week with Henry Blackaby in Saskatchewan and after that week I wanted to know God like Henry did. Hou wanted to learn to drive and study the Biible. We did both and then he asked me “can a communist become a Christian?” I told him yes and hes said “then I want to become a Christian.” God spoke to me at that point and told me I would be taking students the following summer somewhere overseas in a summer mission project. That was 1991. Since that time I have been able to take students into many countries to open our “life books” and the story of how Jesus can help them figure out life and faith.

What is your life telling others about: love, forgiveness, faith, the consumer culture…? People won’t usually believe God will work in their lives until they see Him in our life.

What is required for them to want to read our book? Being involved consistently with them, telling the truth about ourselves and God, and listening to them show we care and they want to turn the page for more.

Check these out: Matthew 6:19-21, 18:21-22, John 13:34-35, 2 Corinthians 2:14, and Hebrews 11:6.

books

books (Photo credit: brody4)

Why not begin to give the Christmas gift of letting others read the book of your life all year long?

Asking this question and answering it make sense if you are part of some kind of performance being presented to an audience. However, in thinking about sharing life and church it is not only irrelevant but dangerous to think of sharing life as part of church. Sharing life together is how church is to be defined and is the most relevant way those outside of the church will detect any truth to what Jesus is about.

Acts 2 and 4 are still in the Bible and we must find ways to do this in the midst of whatever culture we live in. Think of the freedom and refreshment of people who are trying to make life work without Jesus, when they step into lives meshed together in authentic community, serving one another, caring for one another and always available for each other. When we tell them this is “church” they have a bizarre look on their face and we know they have never seen it like this. This group of people go the pub together, play games, laugh frequently, listen to one another, help people rake their leaves, help raise each others kids, and are seriously working at following Jesus. They talk about the stuff at work but offer advice as to how to bring Jesus into the workplace in a way that makes sense.

The meaning of John 13:34 and 35 are more clearly seen in the living rooms, kitchens, garages and yards and people are attracted to Jesus. You don’t have to throw out the Sunday meeting but think about what an outsider sees with regard to the John verses in the Sunday context. Most of what they conclude is that we show up at a meeting on Sunday but there is no way to really observe how this works in real life.

Sharing life with one another is a better context to understanding church than any meetings we might attend.

310/365 Sharing

310/365 Sharing (Photo credit: cheesy42)

Smíchov, Prague, the Czech Republic. "Pra...

Smíchov, Prague, the Czech Republic. “Praha-Smíchov” train station. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It was 1994 and I was alone on a train going from Zagreb Croatia to Dresden, Germany. The route went through Prague, Czech Republic. The train was late leaving so I could not make my connection in Prague. It was however, night time and no trains were leaving until the next morning. A police officer was telling everyone to leave the station because they locked it up at night. I had a cup of coffee in my hand I had purchased and was allowed along with one other person to stay inside after the doors were locked. I slept with my arm locked to my backpack that night unsure what would happen. Risk and fear were present as I “slept” that night. But I knew God wanted me to make this trip so I trusted Him to come through.

Mathew 14:25-31 tells a story we often hope is in the video library of heaven so we could look at it at our leisure with a coke and popcorn. Sadly, this is as far as most people get with the journey of faith. We hear God speaking to us about something but then we think of how crazy risky it is and then our fear kicks in. We really believe God is talking to us but…

Most of us have a line we will not cross when it comes to doing what God talks about in the Word. Risk and fear are tattooed on our mind and we easily rationalize away the necessity of faith and never get out on the water.

Is there a seep of faith you need to take this week? Is there a relationship you need to mend in which you need to trust God with? Don’t settle for the comfortable journey.

RECOGNIZE!

RECOGNIZE! (Photo credit: afagen)

A couple of weeks ago my wife and I were at the Village at Meridian in Meridian, Idaho. We were sitting outside watching people and the amazing fountains there. Oh, we were also having a Starbucks coffee. Everything was normal, then a person came up to ask where we got the Starbucks. There is not Starbucks at the Village so we told them we picked it up on the way. Before not too much time went by 4 other people asked us the same question. I turned to my wife and said “they recognize the Starbucks cups.”

Then I wondered if people recognize Jesus in our everyday lives like they recognize these cups. According to 2 Corinthians 2:14-16 when Jesus is in our lives as the boss, people are going to see the difference He makes. Take the Word on the Street here: “…we walk into a room and people’s heads turn: they get a sense of something different…” They disagree about the implications but they agree that this is different.

In Acts 4:13 we get a strong clue as to why people notice difference. Peter and John had been with Jesus and the religious guys knew it. When you and I are developing a close friendship with Jesus, people can’t help but see that something’s different about us. Maybe it’s how we show interest in them when others don’t or a question we asked that got them thinking about stuff they had never thought about before.

Jesus in our life should be more recognizable than a coffee cup from Starbucks is to people. How can you arouse the curiosity in someone’s life this week? Is there some way you could serve someone this week and they might associate it with your knowing Jesus?