Archive for the ‘Control’ Category

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.

“Tomorrow” is a word not only in everyone’s dictionary but combined with “think of” or “plan for” not only represents the mantra of our culture but also the passionate obsession of our insistence to control life. So we save, purchase more than we need at the grocery, store away enough to last for weeks or longer just in case… For everything, we are told we can never have too much.

But what if there was an insurance plan that would provide only for today, every day? Would you buy into that plan? God offered that to people a few thousand years ago. But that was then, and this is today and if you live in the Western world you have to think of the catastrophe if you did what they did. Exodus 16 is one of those chapters that you hope is on U Tube but it can’t possibly have meaning for today, right? Just think of what they would have missed or you and I, if we did not trust God to provide every day for our needs-“you’ll realize that I am God, your God.” For most of us, our relationship with God never gets this far.

But of course this is not possible today so we remain in bondage to lifestyles of busyness, striving, gathering for that medical expense, car wreck, or dropped I Pad that is just around the corner. God may not ha

Grand Slam Life Insurance Plan

Grand Slam Life Insurance Plan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

ve changed but our life in these days makes believing God like this not only outrageous but qualifies us for the asylum.

Each of us must determine whether God is being straight with us today and if so, how we are to apply it, but we must not automatically assume these words are irrelevant today. Consider Proverbs 30:8 & 9 along with Philippians 4:12 & 19 and don’t forget that prayer-…give us this day…”

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)

Las Vegas is a destination where people with high expectations of winning enough at the tables allows them to pay for the trip, the room and buy whatever while there. Losing is no option anyone wants to think about.

Jesus shows up and creates excitement everywhere, he feeds and heals people, tells riveting stories and challenges the religious types regularly. Who wouldn’t want to follow him? But as he gets closer to the finish line, he begins to define exactly what’s involved in trekking with him. There’s John 6 in which after he defines discipleship his way, most take off rather quickly. Some hang on till near the end when he talks about some cannibalistic stuff of exchanging your life for his and they bolt. Only a handful are left and he asks them a tough question-“You guys leaving too?”

Peter is right on it with “where would we go, we know you are the real deal.” At another time Peter made an impacting statement in Matthew 19:27 “We have left everything to follow you…” Peter, speaking for the rest of the gang had come to a place where they had nothing left to lose. This is when you know you are a revolutionary. 

But this is where we scratch our heads and wonder how this is possible today. Surrounded by many who claim to be Christians while holding on to houses, furnishings, right neighborhoods, quiet surroundings, multitudes of tech stuff (that you just can;t live without), or maybe a way of thinking that is contrary to Jesus’s expectations for discipleship, we could easily conclude that Jesus must not have been thinking about this generation. Matthew 16:25 must be quickly rationalized and explained for today’s culture because only revolutionaries  would live like this.

This is exactly what Jesus has in mind for those who would follow him today. Nothing has changed with Jesus but rather with us. Let him define what this looks like for you…if following Jesus is at the top of your priority list.

Men easily get impatient when someone takes longer than 5 minutes to get ready. “Just grab any pair of jeans and a t shirt and you will look strikingly gorgeous.” 30 minutes later you are now into the second quarter of the bowl game and have all but forgotten about going anywhere. Now all you’re concerned about is making popcorn.

A couple of comments we often hear go like this: “You should know better by now” or “You keep doing the same thing, when are going to get it?” These are not random comments but reflect our impatience with people who have become Christians and are not changing  fast enough for us. And maybe we even say “if you were really following Jesus, you would think differently.”

No one changes quickly. Colossians 2:6 reminds us that the Christian life is like a walk-we begin with faith and grow in faith. You can jog through a cathedral and everything will be a blur or you can walk and observe the creative genius of the artist. When we walk with Jesus at a steady pace  we see, think, learn and we change. Sometimes we trip

English: A black T-shirt.

English: A black T-shirt. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

and if someone sees us flat on our back on the walking path they could conclude we are lazy or out of our mind.

Why do we think we have the right formulas for changing patterns of someone’s life that may have become entrenched for years? God says “you are going the right direction, keep walking, you’ll change and by the way , can I walk with you today?”