Archive for July, 2015

It’s true that sometimes a person only needs to hear what they are told to do. When a commanding officer tells a recruit to do something, it doesn’t matter why. A coach has rules that must be obeyed regardless of why he or she came up with them. But there are times when our motivation can be increased for doing something when we know why we are doing it.

One time Jesus told some followers to do something without telling them why. That happened in Luke 10:1-11. He gave them several specific things they were not to take on a trip, where to stay and what they were to do. They left, did what they were told and we have no record of their ever asking why or questioning these instructions.

Jesus asked a woman for a drink of water in John 4. She challenged him and then he told her what kind of water he could give her and what it would do for her. She wanted that even thought she didn’t totally get what he was describing. He had described for her why she should want this water and she said “bring it!”

In John 10:7-10 Jesus is describing who he was and why someone should consider following him. When he described the life he would give as “more and better than they ever dreamed of” who wouldn’t be motivated to have that kind of life?

What this means: When we are trying to help someone understand some Biblical truth, it helps to tell them why it will help them. Think about how understanding the “why” can increase motivation for doing something. Why should people you know follow Jesus? Learn how to articulate how believing the gospel can change and help your friends.

Almost everyone would like to see God show up and do something in their life or for someone we pray for. But it seems that the consistent pattern is that we pray (maybe a lot) and not much or nothing happens. We might wonder if God is not interested in us, doesn’t care or most scary that he isn’t who we have thought he is.

The truth may really be that we could substitute the word “hope” for  “prayer”. We hope God is real and listening and will respond to what we hope will happen. Of course this approach doesn’t get God’s attention nor accomplish what we would like to see happen.” Why doesn’t God do something?” we ask, and decide that this Christian thing doesn’t work for us. It doesn’t help when someone stands up in a Christian meeting and declares how God really came through for them.

So what’s going on? Maybe John 1:11 and 12 will give some insight. Jesus gets with “his people” and some didn’t welcome him but some did. For those who welcomed him (really believed he was being straight with them) Jesus responded to their belief. He knew it was real and that they were not just hoping.

Scene 2-Matthew 13:53-58-Jesus is teaching in church that Sunday. People were amazed (not in a good way), questioned his ability to make certain claims, talked about his ordinary family and ultimately were offended by his talk. Verse 58 says that Jesus could not do much there because of their “hostile indifference” (Message Translation). They just couldn’t wrap their heart and minds around what he was saying. They lacked real faith. They knew the word “faith” but would not go beyond that.

What this means: Do you and I really believe Jesus is who he says he is? What difference should it make if we really do? What is something you are willing to trust God to do or is it like going out o a limb for you to think this way? What could God be trying to get you to see in his silence to your request? Have a conversation with someone this week who has proof that this is really real.

Jesus is all about changing the reflection in the mirror-our reflection. What do you see when you look in the mirror? Physically, it probably looks like you. It may be distorted if you check it at 6 AM but, it’s still you. We will work like crazy on the image to get it just right and then we’re ready to meet the world. Or, are we? Mark 3:14 delineates a quality that is much more descriptive of what God is after in our lives as we follow Him. He picked the disciples to be “with Him.” It sounds as simple as playing a chord on a guitar or piano. But, take away this chord and the reflection or music will never look or sound right. The word that describes the most left out aspect of correctly reflecting what Jesus is after in us is “availability.” Paul describes another aspect of this word in 1 Corinthians 3:5- he describes the change in us when we spend time with God when he says that he and Apollos were “servants.”That begins to change the image in the mirror doesn’t it? If you and I want to show people what Jesus is like, we must do what few are willing to do. We will carve out time to be with God consistently and we will free our schedule to be available to a neighbor, someone at the gym or someone in the office. It requires saying “no” to many things that only serve to limit our freedom and saying ‘yes” to developing intimacy with Jesus and others as God intersects our lives with them. Next time you look in the mirror, ask a different question like “Who Dat?”

I still remember when God unmistakably spoke to me about going outside of the country on a mission project of some kind. It was 1990 and I knew I would be spending some time during the 1991 summer away from my home which had become too comfortable. Summers in Laramie, Wyoming are the times you are thankful you moved there. I could easily spell the words that came to mind in 1990 but I had no idea of the implications of what they would mean in my life. For the next year the prospect of actually living for 8 weeks with students somewhere away from what I understood well, began to challenge my certainties. It was simple and yet it was becoming complex.

Jesus was walking down the street. There was a blind man and disciples who asked questions (wrong questions). His answer not only stretched their thinking but added confusion to the mix. And then Jesus did something that may have caused them to wonder if they should go get a coffee and try to understand who this was they were following. Jesus spit on the ground, made some type of paste and put it on the blind man’s eyes and told him to go to a pool of water and wash it off. The man did it and for the first time in his life he could see who was talking. The story is in John 9:1-7.

Jesus often tells us something easy to read or hear but as we think about it, it becomes increasingly challenging to live by. We can come to varying wrong conclusions that in our mind justifies not altering our lifestyle. How willing are you and I to allow the simplicity of Jesus’ words to go way below the surface of our thinking and actually act on them regardless of the changes in our lifestyle that we know are necessary? What about taking “make disciples of all nations” and really doing that?