Archive for the ‘Authentic’ Category

To divide something is not necessarily difficult. It’s easy with numbers, but when it involves the heavy stuff of living like God wants…well let’s just say, it’s gonna test everything in you.

Take Psalm 86:1-11 for instance. David recognized his poor and needy heart even while working at getting it right with God. He really trusted God, talked regularly with Him and believed God was listening to him. He even concluded in verse 10 that God alone was God. But in verse 11 David asked for the unthinkable- “…give me an undivided heart.”

What really proves that you have an undivided heart? Is it that you block out a couple of hours on Sunday for God time? Or how about opening the Bible at least twice last week?

WHAT THIS MEANS: What focus in your life would your friends say is the “real you?” What do you talk about more than anything? What do you think about when you jump in bed or crawl out?

DISCIPLESHIP THOUGHT: Becoming a maturing disciple is accomplished only by relentlessly eliminating distractions that trap us in mediocrity. Check Haggai 1:7 “…Take a good. hard look at your life, think it over.” Message translation.

8th Street on a summer Friday night in Boise, Idaho is filled with people. It seems everyone is having a great time together. Laughter, jokes, who’s going to win the game Saturday dominates conversations. No problem-there are friends you play games with and have fun with. These are sort of like artificial plants-nice but not real. But are there friends we share hard stuff of life with? Sometimes, we have a friend we do both with, but that is rare.

Imagine Jesus throwing a Frisbee and yelling to Peter “go longer.” I can see it; but then there is the ultimate rebuke to Peter in Matthew 16:23. Jesus and his “real” friends slept outside together many nights and ate countless meals in various places. They shared life together as friends.

Acts 15:25-26 gives a glimpse of the deep friendship Paul and Barnabas had with each other and Jesus. They risked their lives together.

WHAT THIS MEANS: Think about the people you know. Who do you really share life together with? Who can you talk with about the things that keep you up at night? Who can you flat out share your emotions with? Ask God to bring someone close to you like this.

There is no problem with talking with someone about the ball game, movie or the weather. However, it is far easier for “trivia” to become our middle or first name in another’s mind, if that’s what we focus on.

When we truly love someone, our conversation will necessarily include what serious matters we are passionate about. Our thought provoking ideas, vision or dreams become a consistent part of our vocabulary. When was the last time you told someone about an ache in your heart?

Check out how much Jesus loves us in Matthew 26:36-46.

WHAT THIS MEANS: What keeps you from sharing your heart with others? Tell someone this week something you have never shared with anyone. Be a person who deeply loves others.

“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.

I only know one person who knows what “Chrome Shoes” means. Everyone else might make a guess but would probably be wrong. People explaining Christianity sometimes use words that a person who hasn’t checked out a church for most of their life might have that “blank stare” and have no idea what was just spoken. Think for a minute about “Are you washed in the blood?” Those of us who know Jesus get this, but an outsider might immediately leave concluding “that’s not real talk.”

2 Timothy 3:16 and 17 makes it clear that the Bible is useful for everything we deal with in life. Acts 2:37 indicates that when people understand the Word (and Christianity), it goes straight to their heart. It makes sense and connects with them.

So, when is Christianity meaningful? It is always meaningful, but when does it come alive and make sense to those outside of the faith? That happens when it connects with them, when it makes sense, when it relates to what they deal with at work, or in their relationships, and helps them understand their emotions. Then and only then is it worthwhile and relevant for them.

Practice sharing your story with someone and see if it connects or whether the “blank stare” makes an appearance on their face. How can you develop the ability to speak to people’s heart with words that impact and cause them to be curious and think about what you shared with them?

Chrome Shoes-chrome rims on a car or truck.

Throughout life we bump into many people. Sometimes on a crowded street or party we might say “excuse me” when that happens. At other times, we seem to be only too concerned about what someone thinks about the weather, politics or any meaningless trivia that never reveals their heart or anything about them.

Jesus was never this way with people? In John 15:15 He shows us who is a real friend. Jesus lets us in on everything He heard from His father. He talked about those things closest to His heart with His friends. In Mark 8:29 Jesus asked these men a question “who do you say I am?” There was something Jesus wanted these men to know-a real friend asks meaningful questions of another because that shows they are interested in them. Jesus, the ultimate friend told His friends the truth. Take Matthew 16:24 for instance. This was a hard word but He loved them enough to tell them the truth. Do you have someone in your life who loves you enough to tell you the truth?

Do you want to know someone? Ask them a meaningful question. Do they want to know you? They will do the same with you. Think about some meaningful questions you could ask people. Always be a friend to the people God intersects your life with.

Success

Success (Photo credit: aloshbennett)

I imagine you have said it yourself or your kids have said it one too many times. You are only 30 minutes in the trip that is going to take several hours and you or they ask “are we there yet?” Our questions and thinking always reflect what we believe is important or how we are putting the pieces of the puzzle in the right places.

A church (which is made up of a bunch of people) is successful not when you can’t find a seat, or the new building is now completed or the number of programs has exceeded the number of days in a typical month. The criteria for evaluating success should not be how many but rather what kind. Are people learning how to be real (honest) with each other, involved in consistently sharing life together, and is their life arousing curiosity from those who intersect their life?

People all over the world are looking for people who will be up front with them, genuinely care about spending time with them and who are figuring out how to eliminate the attractive and myriad distractions that choke the life out of them.

The Thessalonians were impacting people all over the place. They had become the daily headlines in the newspapers. If it were today, word of their changed lives would have gone viral on the internet. Twitter wouldn’t have had enough room to list all of the tweets about how they were focused on what really mattered. Check out 1 Thessalonians 1:7-10 and 2 Thessalonians 1:3.

Get some coffee or a beer with someone this week and talk about this.

English: Dictionary indents. Français : Marque...

English: Dictionary indents. Français : Marques-pages dans un dictionnaire. Deutsch: Daumenregister eines Wörterbuches. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I had a dream last night that woke me up. Not unusual you might say but for whatever reason this one stuck in my mind. I was with a bunch of people in a yard who were yelling at a guy in another yard. The volume kept increasing until one guy screamed “we’re gonna win.” Standing next to this guy I said “define win.” I felt like it was important to elaborate on just what “win” meant. Everyone got quiet and one gal even gave me the finger. I walked away and then woke up.

A lot of life seems to consist of repeating various mantra that neither we nor others have really checked out the validity or source of whatever we are repeating. We just keep on saying it over and over and most of our closer friends believe the same thing anyway. How could anyone have the audacity to suggest something different that would make our definition wrong?

Jesus was the top dog at challenging people’s reasons for belief, ways of living, and whatever he knew violated God’s intention for us. He did it not to show off but because he really did love every person on the planet and wanted them to live life to the max-God’s way. A look at Matthew 22:29 and John 10:10 show this.

So, one of the huge issues today is “church.” What is it? Who’s right? Many are yelling their opinion. Here’s one more. A church is a church when disciples are making disciples (disciple must be defined correctly), as it is challenging that part of the culture that is taking away from God’s purposes, when a framework or network is being developed where people can be real, and when it seen as a journey of people banded together committed to doing life God’s way rather than just showing up at an event. I believe Matthew 5:13-16 and Acts 5:42 capture some of what Jesus was looking for in our doing church.

Doing or being church is simple but unbelievable challenging.

real people

real people (Photo credit: the|G|™)

Haven’t you ever asked someone

a question about something and realized somewhere during their response you just wanted to get in a fast car and leave as quickly as you could? You just wanted to know about their weekend but instead you got the history of how their parents neglected them and the 15 things that were wrong with their kids.

And what if you asked someone in your community group what they really thought about how you handled an embarrassing question someone asked you during the group? And if they said that you were way too defensive and didn’t seem to want to let them into your life, what would you think about that?

If we are teachable and want to make a difference in someone’s life, we will not set boundaries on what questions are legal and others that are way across the line. We will also give honest input to others about our life or theirs. But who makes these kinds of commitments? Anyone determined to follow Jesus without reservation enters into meaningful accountable relationships with others. Of course some issues need to be discussed in private, but if we are serious about discipleship we put it all on the table.

Jesus did not hesitate to explain the hypocrisy of some religious guys in Matthew 23:27; and there’s Paul’s explanation of a confrontation with Peter in Galatians 2:11. In 1 Thessalonians 2:8 Paul also explained how he loved these people so much that he not only had a Bible study with them about the gospel, but he shared his life with them.

I remember a very painful time in my life in which I shared with several people what was going on and because of that, one person got with me the next week and told me that because I was honest with the group, he now felt he could tell me something about himself he had not told anyone else. What if I had a boundary that only allowed people so far into my life?

Do you have any boundaries that need to be erased?

What comes to your mind when you think of these words? Interesting, strange, trapped might be a few. What about alternative reality? Are these guys real and is there really a hotel like this? Without getting too “out there” with this just consider that most people live in a reality that defines life in a way from which there is no escape, is very repetitive, is hard to make sense of, and usually ends in depressing conclusions that frustrate the fire out of them.

What does this have to do with Jesus? In a word-everything. The deal is however, he has decided to let you and I live and reveal an alternative reality to people trapped in mindless trivia issues that never go anywhere. 

When we live lives where we genuinely care, extend grace without condition, raise curiosity by going the second mile, love them when we know they have differing views about gun issues than us…(you can add to this), they realize we live according to an alternative reality that really does offer freedom from everything that traps them every day. Anyway, they are really more concerned about life before death than after it.

Think through Matthew 5:38-48; 2 Corinthians 10:12; Colossians 4:5 & 6 and 1 Thess. 1:2-9 and see how you can communicate this life to them. By the way if they only see this in you, they might conclude you are just an exception. But if they see this in several of us, they are going to want it. This really is church.

Oh, No! It's Devo

Oh, No! It’s Devo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)