Archive for July, 2014

I became a Christian in college. I was so eager to grow that I constantly read, memorized and studied the Bible. I felt like I was behind so I had to make up lost time. At times it was quite draining and there was a point about 5 years into my Christian life, I stopped a lot of disciplines that had helped me grow spiritually. I forgot that becoming a disciple and disciple maker is like running a marathon and not a sprint.

Colossians 2:6 is a verse filled with important truth that will help you and I finish the marathon. It is one thing to decide Jesus is the boss and quite another to live that way year after year. We all start with eager faith and for sure Jesus is going to be in charge. Satan doesn’t get too excited about our declaration because he has alluring diversions that look innocent enough but they have a snake somewhere along the way. We must allow Jesus to be the boss every day for the next few thousand days we are on the planet.

That verse also says we are to walk or live in him. I love the word “walk.” Isaiah 30:21 along with John 14:16 really help to understand that the Holy Spirit is a still small voice whispering to us all along the road of spiritual growth as we walk with him.

Be diligent in pursuing Jesus but take your time. We should want to finish like Paul speaks about in 2 Timothy 4:8 “…I’ve run through the pain barrier; I’m on the last lap and the finishing tape’s in sight. The Word on the Street

How can you make sure you have the right pace in your Christian growth?

It may be a stretch to think of the Bible as a database but it does contain everything needed to not only survive life but also to find it.

John 10:10-the enemy’s threats (stealing, killing and destroying) are a clever attempt to persuade us that the point of life has nothing to do with God. On the other hand, Jesus offers an invitation that if accepted results in a definition of life not found in any of our dictionaries. It’s so amazing that any attempt to define it would be irrational. Our most advanced computers would not be able to download the complete definition.

In John 14:6, Jesus invites us to meet his dad. He wants to introduce him to us. God has both challenging expectations and peaceful rest for those burnt out on religion or who are worn out from trying to keep the right spiritual formulas. When you throw in John 17:3 you realize this database (aka the Bible) is what introduces us to and grows our relationship with the God who began the whole thing. Let that sink in!

This is the invitation that defines the kind of life God is offering everyone.

What are some of the thieves and destroyers of this life that satan has used in your life? Think of 2 Corinthians 10:5 and write down some of those inadequate philosophies, religious boxes that can’t hold the truth and deceptive fantasies. Get with someone and discuss what it means to take the enemies lies captive.

There is nothing worse than repeating over and over the same thinking, patterns of response or lifestyle choices that always end up leaving us defeated. We say we want it to change and we think this time we mean it but…

What is harder for you to think about changing? Consider Luke 6:1-11. The disciples having learned from their religious teachers that some things were illegal on the Sabbath, must have wondered where this was going to lead to as Jesus began to break these rules. The religious leaders were torqued about it for sure. You had to follow the rules. They were comfortable with not having to think about the “why” of these rules and just did them. It was easier to do it this way.

Jesus always disrupted the laziness of coming to conclusions without really thinking about what was really on God’s heart or what his intentions were. Jesus knew his life would be a challenge to almost everyone he met but he also knew it was the right way to do life. He longed to bring freedom to the religious and non-religious but he knew that pain would have to be introduced into the equation. He knew people would have to come to a place of wanting to know the truth more than the traditions they were following.

It is possible to have a very intimate relationship with Jesus and it is possible to have the kind of connection with other followers of Jesus that resembles a close knit family. But the pain of not having either or both must become severe before we will change our inadequate and incomplete experiences of the Christian life most of us know.

It is certainly important to have all of the doctrinal ducks all lined up and think we’ve got it all figured out. There is a subtle pride however in stopping there. Sometimes I really believe we are afraid to listen to how another person concludes something different from our conclusions. There are never two or three truths but as we continue searching, God pulls back the veil a little more and we see something we never saw before.

I meet with a group of men for prayer every Tuesday morning. I have always known about faith and that God can do anything. These men really expect God to act. I examined that truth and really asked some hard questions and kept going deeper into it. I knew some of my friends might think I was going beyond the truth but I knew God would show me where that line was.

It reminds me of Hebrews 5:11-14 and how easy it is to settle for less than what God wants us to learn and experience. God is not afraid of our questions. Why are we satisfied with 1+1=2 when there algorithms? If we stop with addition, we might miss some confusion, but also a reality that could free us to do unimaginable things.

Think about making disciples. We talk about it, do Bible studies about it and even memorize verses related to it but it is not until we begin to disciple another that we really learn what it means to trust God to do what only he can through us.

Are you afraid to venture into the mysteries that God knows? Are you willing to let God pull back the veil a little more and show you something that will cause you to change something in your life?

Don’t be afraid of the light! Psalm 119:105 reminds us that the Word is a light and lamp for our search.

Every public place has an exit sign somewhere in case of some kind of potential danger. We don’t always look for the exit sign but we know it is there and are thankful there is a way out if there is a fire or something else that might happen to cause us to want to leave.

I find it easy to talk about following Jesus, having a radical faith or being a revolutionary like Jesus was during his day. But, I seem to always have several well marked exits just in case my lifestyle gets too challenged. If it requires “too much” financial investment, time that cuts into some ingrained routine I love, giving up my personal space, having to come clean rather than hiding a recurring thought, willing to live in a small minority with what I believe God wants my life to look like, eliminating living with “want” rather than “need” defining my purchases or requires an absolute commitment to putting others best interest ahead of mine, I too easily look for an exit.

This exit is a rationalization that more often reflects the Christian or secular culture. When I know I will probably be misunderstood by either of these groups, I can choose an exit so as to not stand out too much as radical.

In 2 Timothy 4:10 a man named Demas is mentioned as being in love with the world and abandoning Paul. Demas may have started out well but never completely made the break from the lifestyle that contradicted Paul’s and Jesus’. Their understanding of not being in love with the world seems incredibly too radical to be taken seriously thought Demas, and he saw an exit sign and went that way.

Psalm 73:25-after saying that only God mattered, David said “…nothing here on earth’s worth a second view.” The Word on the Street. What a challenging place to be in life. What a challenging trip to get there.

So, what will God have to bring into your life and mine in order to bring us to a point of making an absolute decision to live the life we were intended to live? God is always for us so he never gives up on us.

Dangerous Bonus Thought: 1 Corinthians 15:34

“Wow, that was a very powerful message, what a Godly person they are.” We have probably said this in referring to a speaker we heard at a conference or some other meeting. But we may be mistaken. It may have been a powerful message but if we know the person only by acquaintance, we don’t know if their life represents what they just said.

Consider 1 Samuel 16:7 “I don’t look at the same stuff you do-the image, the voice, the perfect teeth. I look at the inside stuff, and I’m not talking about the lining of his designer jacket: I’m talking about character.” The Word on the Street

Or take Matthew 23:27 where Jesus speaks about religious types. “…people look at you and think you’re saints, but beneath the skin you’re total frauds.” The Message

There really is no power without the reality in our life. We really should only speak to people when the evidence is in our life. Someone told me a long time ago “never speak an inch beyond your experience” and I constantly remind myself of that. Not only do we have to examine our life but keep it in mind when we read a “great” book or listen to a great message. If you listen to a great speaker, see if you can get coffee or lunch and listen and ask good questions. If you read a book you may not have that opportunity, but you can make sure you speak only what is in your life.

If you are discipling someone, make sure you allow that person to see you not just in the Bible study but on the basketball court, painting someone’s house, with some non-believers…in other words, in real life. They will have the opportunity to validate your words. If someone is discipling you, make sure to see them in some real situations.