Archive for the ‘Formulas’ Category

I was sitting down for lunch with two bowls of rice. One had some lamb curry mixed with it and the other an Indian lentil mix. My wife Frannie, asked if I was going to eat all of it. I reasoned that if I ate half of one and half of the other I could have the two Baby Ruth nuggets for a snack later because I would not be full with the rice. So I told her “1/2 + 1/2 = 2.” She didn’t get it so I explained my reasoning. It made some sense to her but also sounded weird.

But think about how God’s perspective often differs from ours. Something happens and we ask God a question but we are not prepared for His response. It seems to come from “left field.” We’re not prepared for how God views life or the issues, problems or questions that arise as we stumble our way through an often messed up life.

It made sense to me to say that one half plus one half equaled two. It did not to Frannie or probably to anyone else who didn’t know what I was thinking. Now, think about Habakkuk 1:2,3 and 5-11. This guy expressed all kinds of rage. God listened and then knocks his socks off with “Hang in there. Keep up with current affairs. You’ll be blown away by the incredible plot line I’m working on.” The Word on the Street. If that doesn’t get you to see that God looks at life in a different way, check out Psalm 90:4 or 2 Peter 3:8.

Keep asking and thinking but be ready for God to respond in ways you never will comprehend.

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?

You sleepily pick up your phone and the recognizable voice says “get your stuff, we’re leaving in 15 minutes.” Stunned, you ask “where are we going?’ The reply does not give you the assurance you were hoping for. “Come and you will see.” Take a peek at John 1:35-39.

Disciple making can become routine to a point it begins to be boring and without the anticipation of adventure or excitement. If we follow the rules, do the assignments, don’t miss the meetings we surely become a follower of Jesus. Right? Jesus has an uncanny way of helping people unlearn the clutter that often makes traveling the discipleship road as tasteful as eating a dead rat. Without a sweet notebook, I Pad or  dynamite blogs, Jesus was able to equip followers with everything they would need to pass it on to other travelers. John 17:4,6,20.

In our helping people become real followers of Jesus, we often should take people somewhere where neither of us has been. Don’t think of a cool location to read the Bible with them but maybe a way of thinking that stretches them. It may be a short term mission trip in Argentina or in the older part of your city. But if we are following Jesus, our disciple making will definitely keep people awake.

Check out some of the ways Jesus got and kept the attention of the early disciples in the use of water and whips in John 2. What a teaching technique.

How are you really participating in Matthew 28:18-20? Is it an adventure or another trip to Walmart?

Everyone enjoys eating out. No preparation in the kitchen, no agonizing over cooking the fish just right and of course no cleanup required. Jesus enjoyed eating out-in fact he did this almost every day. But one day he surprised his men and caused the religious types to show their real character.

Check out Matthew 9:9-12. Jesus had an important thing for his men to learn here. He knew those with unfounded religious rules would have a fit but then, that was part of his plan. The religious club needed to remove some things from their priority list. We must learn to engage our culture without compromise. Engaging means association with but does not mean shallow conversations. We should ask meaningful questions to help people think through their conclusions about life. And, we need to really listen to people even when we absolutely disagree with them.

1 Corinthians 9:22 in the Living version says in part “…trying to find common ground with non-Christians so as to tell them about Jesus and let Jesus save them.” 2 Corinthians 10:2-5 adds a dimension that is often overlooked.

Extra credit: John 2:1-11. We need to help people when we can. People have a lot of water but maybe not much wine. It is easy to live rather plain lives void of adventure. We may be able to help people with that. Also, 1 John 2:15,16 should help us not cross boundaries that would diminish our effectiveness with our culture. We do not have the right to do what we want to do, be who we want to be or have what we want to have if we are following Jesus.

Where are you having dinner tonight? How do you need to work on the compromising aspect?

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?”