Archive for the ‘Relationships’ Category

Why is it so easy to be occupied with the skin-deep issues of life? Issues like: “What was the final score?” “How many yards did he gain?” Is it going to be cloudy again?” Do you want onion rings or fries?” There is no problem asking these questions but why do we rarely ask “How would you describe your thoughts when you heard…?” or “What would it take for you to get serious about ending that habit?””What does our music today indicate about how life has changed over the past 50 years?” That’s too much for our brain to deal with.

We can become focused on religious things that parallel these first four questions very easily and never get to the heart of what Jesus’ focus was. For example, we easily get caught up in how many show up rather than being concerned if they really learned. And do we really know when someone is learning? These things make us think whereas making sure there are enough chairs is an easier deal.

We are to make disciples. How do we know when that is happening? Why is it crucial to know who is a disciple? How do we know we are doing church as God intended? Why is it necessary to understand how to make an application of scripture? All of these questions demand that we think and move beyond the skin deep responses that are much easier to repeat

Matthew 23:23-28 deals with shallow people Jesus confronted. He did it not to embarrass but to help them begin to understand what really matters.

So, what did you think about this week that you would rather no one know about? It is imperative for us to have others in our life who are serious about dealing with stuff like this and love us enough to risk asking us these kinds of questions.

I will be away for the next 8 days and will begin the blog when I return.

Thinking

Thinking (Photo credit: Moyan_Brenn_BACK_FROM_ICELAND)

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.

When I was at Texas A & M in 1961, freshmen in the corps of cadets were not allowed to walk or stand on the grass-strictly an upper classman privilege. But what if it was not allowed in your neighborhood or apartment complex? It wouldn’t make sense and your friends would probably move on. They certainly wouldn’t visit you in your neighborhood.

What do you think those who aren’t going to check out our church meetings have concluded about in their words “our religious clubs” that steal all of the joy out of life? Maybe it’s the dress code to get in, or the rules about what you can;t do on a certain day, or that you better not have a wine bottle in your fridge at home or some other rule that really doesn’t make sense to them (or to Jesus for that matter).

We can do a lot to ease the concerns of those not following Jesus by removing barriers to their exploring the truth that is not misrepresented as rules that must be obeyed or else. We could start by inviting them to the group that meets in our house for a meal and a beer if they would like one as well as a practical discussion of how following Jesus makes a difference at work, in the pickup basketball game  or how we raise kids. Help remove the conclusions those not following Jesus have about church by enjoying life with them both in your house and theirs. Remember  that Jesus never compromised anything and they called him their friend.

Further ideas can be seen in Matthew 15: 8 & 9, John 10:10 and Acts 15:28 & 29.

English: Bottle of wine.

English: Bottle of wine. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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?

Over the years and especially for the last few I have come to several conclusions that are critical to keeping me from jumping out of a car at 60 mph. One such conclusion is that I am in a battle for my life but there are not many helping me in that fight. Thankfully there are a few willing to ask hard questions that keep me on the right track. There are many Christian groups/churches that seem to have interesting speeches and talks but they don’t often hit me where I live. How about you? Do you have someone or a group that is willing to risk it all or who is willing for you to put all your stuff on the table?

1 Peter 5:8 reminds us that our enemy does not want to curl up with us in bed but rather wants to devour us. Many strategies-same end in mind. He wants to ruin and destroy us. We need someone to watch our back, someone who will help us prepare for the race with the right training, someone who will encourage us to keep going when we are at mile 4 in the 10K.

We are challenged by Paul to be that person for others and make sure we have someone in our life who is dead set on seeing us finish the race. Check Romans 12:10 and 16:3,4 as well as Philippians 2:4 and 19-22. Where or from whom do you get training for what life throws at us?

What do you think of when you hear something like You crossed the line bro.”? You might think someone just said something they are going to regret later and if not, it is definitely going to keep two people from traveling together in a car across the country.

But wait…maybe the comment wasn’t offensive but alarmingly honest. Maybe the person making the comment was way more real than the other person expected. What if it was a question no one had dared to ask before?

Think about Proverbs 27:17…Does someone have your best interest in mind and are willing to risk everything to help you become all that God wants for you? Or, John 13:34,35…If someone really loves you they will sometimes show it with questions or statements that not only make you think but also cause you to want to change or correct something in your life.

Every statement Jesus made always had the other person’s best interest in mind even though it might hurt to hear. He was willing to cross the line and not settle for a shallow relationship.

Who do you have in your life willing to ask you hard questions or risk telling you the truth? Make it easy for them to cross the line. Are you willing to let someone be so real that you can’t play your “which shell is the pea under” game with them anymore?