Archive for the ‘Adventure’ Category

We have a blueprint, we’ve prayed hard, studied it and feel confident God will bless the socks off of this one. But, the CEO of the Faith Organization rejects our projected path.

It’s easy to give in to the disappointment or darkness and not see our way out of this. We take control of our plan, but God is not impressed with our pointless attempts and non-faith efforts. We go to bed angry and uncertain.

Isaiah 50:11 clarifies God’s perspective on this. It’s scary enough to fail at what we believe to be right, but to lie down in torment? We don’t have to experience life like this.

We can sidestep this by doing life God’s way. Check out Hebrews 11:6. God always responds to our trust (faith) in Him. In fact, He only responds to this.

WHAT THIS MEANS: Our faith is like the dawn that reveals the beauty and adventure God wants us to experience. We can live with confidence even when we don’t understand.

Jesus entered the world in a most obscured way. Some recognized it but most paid it no mind. If someone moved into your neighborhood and was wealthy or highly respected and wanted to help everyone in the neighborhood, you might pay attention to them.

John 1:11 in the Message says “Jesus moved into the neighborhood.” But Matthew 13:58 adds that as he moved around in that neighborhood, he didn’t do much. It was not because he didn’t want to but the people didn’t believe him. Their faith limited what he would do.

We show up at  Christian meetings on Sunday or Thursday, but we don’t often see anything different than when we drop into our favorite coffee shop. We are present but without an expectation that God is going to show up and turn the tables upside down, we fight to stay awake and can’t wait until this is over. Why don’t we expect God to act? Again, the Message clears it up. Jesus didn’t do many miracles there because of “their hostile indifference.”

We easily get too casual with our Christian experience and whether you call it a lack of faith or indifference, the result is the same-nothing happens. Why not take Jesus seriously, invite him to your neighborhood or group and expect that he is going to work? Pass out water and watch it turn into wine.

Chess pieces – left to right: king, rook, quee...

Chess pieces – left to right: king, rook, queen, pawn, knight and bishop. Photo taken by Alan Light. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is challenging to play chess. It is really challenging to play with a timer. But it is beyond our loftiest expectations to let God into the game. We move chess pieces around trying to conquer or combat another’s move hoping to somehow grab the queen and take out the king. We sacrifice pawns like throwing away French fries (who could really do that?). But what if God was in control of the game? He would not always be focused on the next move but would often surprise us when he moves the chess board. How would you feel about that?

God really does have our best interest in mind and is more in control then we could imagine. We must learn to hold our plans with our hands open not clenched. Think about Paul-the guy always was focused on going into new lands to share good news. You know God was more excited about this than going to the wildest amusement park and riding the death spiraling rides. So Paul took off and God got out of his chair not to watch, but to change the route. Acts 16:6 captures this movement of the chess board for Paul and his buddies. No problem because Paul not only knew but also was thrilled with God taking him on a different route than Google Maps had given him.

Or think of the futility of telling your buds that you are moving to Bangor, Maine for a year or so and starting a chain of businesses and then you will be off to Chicago for the big time. But God whispers “take a look at James 4:13 and 14 before you pack the car.”

We carelessly attack every situation with our best ideas, plans and strategies. Why not do it the way God designed life to be lived anyway? He not only wants you and I to trust him with the chess pieces but to be ready for a change we could not imagine as he gently but firmly picks up the chess board.

Do you think you could let God completely determine your next move? How do you know?

Danger Ahead

Danger Ahead (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Who wouldn’t want to go to Disneyland? think of the fun taking in all of the exhibits, rides and neat experiences not found in the everyday working world. We should be entitled to a break from the daily grind so we take out all of the travel guides and what do we choose? Disneyland type experiences rate near the top.

There are some others that are only found in one brochure. Not too many would buy ads for this travel guide. In  fact some travel agencies refuse to carry this one and if they have to, they rarely mention it or disguise what is in it. The travel agency is often the church that pulls out all the brochures about the trips that we can take that are filled with stuff that feeds our self-interests like: fun, cool, or relaxing.

If the tour guide is Jesus, the information contained in his brochure is quite different. The trip will be exciting for sure but it will include things like: danger, life threatening opportunities, huge risk, opportunities to face your fear and the most meaningful trip you will ever take.

A quote from Jesus might stir your interest or cause you to throw this brochure in the trash. Look at Matthew 5:10 and 11. Words like persecution, being put down by others, people speaking lies about you to discredit Jesus should be included only in the fine print and not headlined-right? Consider the source of these words. But there is someone else who has taken this trip  who is also quoted in this brochure, his name is Paul. His description of the trip might make us swallow hard. We can’t just casually pass off his travel tip as only for a few. Check out 2 Corinthians 11:23-27. This description of the trip is tough to swallow but waiting for the person who does not check with their insurance agency before signing up.

Are you thrilled with the opportunity or paralyzed by the lack of security and comfort that following Jesus might eliminate for you? Jesus challenges us to come and see!

Contrasting Realities

Contrasting Realities (Photo credit: Aaron Dieppa)

Most people in America prefer a life that is safe, comfortable and free from danger. Is there anything wrong with this? That depends on what God has to say on the topic. For instance, as you look at how Jesus did life, it is painfully obvious that he seemed to challenge the status quo and accepted cultural norms every day. Of course those participating in the various “self-centered” clubs of that day not only discouraged others from checking into Jesus but threatened them and Jesus in various ways. They might kick them out of their self-imposed “religious zones” they had created (the only places where God could be worshiped). Or worse they might have them removed from the planet.

To associate with Jesus was to be ready for whatever and it usually was not the picnic in the park by a lake watching swans. But on the other hand, since he had all the authority over life, it was the safest place to be. A want ad in the Nazareth Times might read “wanted: men and women willing to take a journey of a lifetime. Everything provided for an adventure filled with beautiful sights and consistently life-threatening events. Look for Jesus and follow him.”

Philippians 3:10 gives a glimpse of one who answered that ad. Paul said “…I’m up for showing solidarity with him (Jesus) by going through tough times, getting inside his head by facing death…I want the whole lot. I want to know him. Deep. The Word on the Street. And there is 2 Timothy 3:12 which stops many as it clearly points out that to really follow Jesus means you’re in for a lot of trouble. The encouraging word from Jesus himself in Matthew 28:18-20 is that he is with us 24/7.

Danger and safety-ready to respond to the want ad?

No Fear

No Fear (Photo credit: Cosmopolita.)

A couple of overseas trips stand out for me that were exhilarating but nearly scared the spank out of me. One was in the Czech Republic where I was alone and nearly robbed by two men and who knows what else could have happened. But the city…beautiful. The other in Croatia where I was walking with another man down a road while the war in the Balkans was underway. Two Croatian soldiers jumped out with guns and shouted “stop and turn around, there are snipers ahead.” What a great trip it was to Croatia as we helped a family rebuild a home destroyed in the war.

God intended our team to be in these places but it was not without risk. You do not have to leave your city or country however for God to invite you to join him in some unsafe places. You could be involved with the homeless, or recently released people from jail or with a former child molester. Even more frightening might be if God began to pull back the veil from how you view something in the Christian life and show you that there is a different and maybe more effective way to accomplish his purposes.

Jesus was completely in the Father’s will as he agonized in prayer in a garden outside of Jerusalem. I mean he knew he had agreed with the Father and Holy Spirit about this but really, this was tough. He also knew there was no other way to accomplish what they had agreed on. Check Matthew 26:36-39.

Where have you said “no way” when you sensed God saying something challenging to you? Why wouldn’t you do whatever God spoke to you about? Remember, He has already said “don’t be afraid.” Isaiah 41:10. He’s with you in the boat, in the alley, wherever. Venture out of the paralyzing comfort and learn who Jesus really is.

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.

Some of us want a clear understanding of what we should do before we jump. The only explanation of what lies ahead for us is the guarantee that Jesus will be there every step of the way. Jesus is not obligated to explain anything to us unless we need to know. Check John 1:35-39.

Thousands show up at a popular concert because the only things required to attend are minimal. And really when you think about it, after the concert you just leave. The real Jesus concert is radically different. You don’t show up and then leave feeling tingly because as he walks away he says to you “lets go.” And you are thinking “my ticket price didn’t include anything but listening to the music and some rhetoric that is easily forgotten.”

So, my wife and I are moving from Northern Colorado to Boise, Idaho in 2 months. We know a few people there and know a little about a few ministries, but we are going with a blank sheet of paper. Only God knows what will be written on it and that is the most exciting part of the whole deal. It’s considered wise in America to really think through your future and make plans that will help you accomplish your goals. It’s sort of like mapping out your trip: Interstate 25 to Interstate 80 to Interstate 84 and you are in Boise (pronounced without a Z). But what if God has something up his sleeve near mile marker 247 on Interstate 80 that means you are going to have to take a different route? Personally, I believe this is where it gets exciting.

What’s keeping you from experiencing the unbelievable joy of allowing Jesus to call the shots? Proverbs 19:21 in the Message says it “We humans keep brainstorming options and plans, but God’s purpose prevails.” And then there is the always scary James 4:13-16 “…you don’t know the first thing about tomorrow…” You can thrive on uncertainty and certainty at the same time if you are completely following Jesus.

follow me

follow me (Photo credit: Leonard John Matthews)