Posts Tagged ‘Change’

A part time job most often means that a person is probably committed to that job for a short time or until something better comes along. In a similar manner, we often focus on getting people to commit to a Sunday service, a small group and maybe a couple of times annually to do a service project. This usually is the determination in thinking of someone who is an active Christian.

Think about the implications of Acts 2:47. “They live in community, everything under common ownership, they sell their stuff and donate crazy amounts to the poor. Every day they are at God’s HQ reenacting Jesus’ symbolic meal, praying together, doing each other good, celebrating God. and the local’s love it!…God’s upping the numbers daily…” The Word on the Street

I know it’s practically impossible to duplicate the early church’s lifestyle. They did not have cars, internet and myriad distractions we have today; but what are we really doing to develop lifestyles that are not segmented to occasional interaction with believers and non-believers? Proverbs 14:31, 1 Corinthians 13:4 and James 1:22 further develop the direction our lives should take. This challenges the socks off of me!

It may have something to do with the compartmentalization of church as somewhere we go rather than something we do. If it is “part time involvement” we may discard it at some point. In fact, if we are really following Jesus, our few hours a week involved will be challenged by Jesus who was 24/7 involved with those he loved.

Ask God to make it absolutely clear what his agenda includes for you rather than pursuing the agenda you may have determined for yourself and your family.

There is nothing worse than repeating over and over the same thinking, patterns of response or lifestyle choices that always end up leaving us defeated. We say we want it to change and we think this time we mean it but…

What is harder for you to think about changing? Consider Luke 6:1-11. The disciples having learned from their religious teachers that some things were illegal on the Sabbath, must have wondered where this was going to lead to as Jesus began to break these rules. The religious leaders were torqued about it for sure. You had to follow the rules. They were comfortable with not having to think about the “why” of these rules and just did them. It was easier to do it this way.

Jesus always disrupted the laziness of coming to conclusions without really thinking about what was really on God’s heart or what his intentions were. Jesus knew his life would be a challenge to almost everyone he met but he also knew it was the right way to do life. He longed to bring freedom to the religious and non-religious but he knew that pain would have to be introduced into the equation. He knew people would have to come to a place of wanting to know the truth more than the traditions they were following.

It is possible to have a very intimate relationship with Jesus and it is possible to have the kind of connection with other followers of Jesus that resembles a close knit family. But the pain of not having either or both must become severe before we will change our inadequate and incomplete experiences of the Christian life most of us know.

Decisions

Decisions (Photo credit: _Hadock_)

Think about it-one day  too long ago for anyone to remember or understand, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit decided that Jesus would enter our planet disguised as a seemingly insignificant event to most people in that day (as well as ours). Much later, some of us made one decision to invite Jesus to start calling the shots in our life and we decided to follow Him. As time went on, God made it more clear to us what following Jesus really meant. Reaffirming this decision and meaning it, alters the course of our life.

One day King David decided to skip “war class” and stay at home. He then decided to check out the scenery from his roof and the rest of the story is stored in the Bible data base of 2 Samuel 11. His decision had dire consequences. Some decisions wreck more than we could ever imagine.

God also decided that one day He would reveal who He is through us when we asked Him to change our life. The only way we really know we have decided to follow Jesus is that other people don’t just hear us talk about it but really do see that we live differently. But this is a decision we must make not for one day but every day.

Punch the “enter” key and watch God change everything-your perspective, your relationships, your strategies about how to make life/ministry work. God has the file available for everyone. Hit the enter key and get ready. When we hit that key God’s power is released to not only change us but also to show others how they can experience “what they don’t know they need.”

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Journey to the East: Route Map

Journey to the East: Route Map (Photo credit: premasagar)

I recently read a challenging verse in Genesis 46:2 in the Word on the Street. God stopped me cold on this one. During the night God downloaded a dream into Israel’s sleep and said : I’m God, your father’s God. Don’t panic; enjoy the journey down to Egypt.”

If it’s not today, it probably will be tomorrow but everyone usually comes to a place where you wonder if you got on the right bus. I mean, so much looks different while being the same. The people speak your language (most of the time), they drive cars like you do, trees are trees everywhere but for whatever reason you’re left wondering. I was thinking about this since our move to Boise. We did come with a blank page but there are only a couple of sentences and a photo now on the page while most of it remains blank.

Then God said “I’m God…don’t panic…enjoy the journey…” This was totally reassuring and I said ok. That day seemed different. I could relax and truly believe God was in control and therefore knew what he was doing. Boise is not Egypt but it is out there. It is the most remote destination city in the USA. While walking downtown that day I had an overwhelming sense of this being the place I want to be and that I can enjoy what God sees that I don’t yet. I actually thought that I enjoyed being here more than Boulder, Colorado and that is beyond bizarre. The beautiful walk on my way to the Java coffee shop could not have been improved in any way. I was meeting with a man to discuss what God was doing here. It was one of those electric moments where you just really knew…

Is there growing evidence in your life that shows you are walking away from the evidence the enemy presents as he details his distorted facts about God and his relentless love for you and I? We can enjoy the journey because God’s map is so much more exciting than any Google Map application.

I remember my freshman year at Texas A&M. At that time it was an all-male military university. One day the commanding officer of our company lined all of the freshman up in the hall and had every 5th man stand. There were about 30 of us so 6 men stood. Then he said the most startling thing “this is how many of you will be here when you are seniors!”

Alone

Alone (Photo credit: JB London)

I graduated from college but from another university but I went back to visit when I was a senior. I believe there were 5 or 6 still in my company as seniors.

Why did most of us leave? I am sure there were many reasons but we left non the less. Throughout Jesus’ life he increasingly defined what it meant to follow him. More and more left and only a handful remained. And, as you and I travel this road, we begin to look around and many of our friends and others we know are nowhere in sight. Some refuse to let go of a habit or the many varieties of sin. Like Jeremiah says in Jer. 8:6 “…no one repents of his wickedness…each pursues their own course.” Most people look out for themselves with little concern for the stuff Jesus said. Check Philippians 2:21. Then in 2 Timothy 4:10 Paul mentions Demas who chased whatever was being advertised as “this will get you noticed.”

Whatever it is that began to cause some to follow Jesus are the same things that cause them to stop. It looked like a great adventure in the beginning but when Jesus said we had to go through that place where it was dangerous, some said “no way Jose.” The way Jesus responded to the opposition of his day challenged us but later as we faced opposition it scared us off of the road. The road Jesus expects us to travel is littered with exits everywhere and it is too easy to take them.

We must not get discouraged if we continue down that track and our buddies have bailed. Jesus is still on that road and says to us “you won’t believe what is just  over the next hill but you are going to love it.” Keep walking.

change

change (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

We all know that a good coach who cares about their players will always be committed to helping a young man or woman learn a better way of playing the game. It might  be correcting a batting stance, or how to hold the football when running or how to grip the tennis racket. However, to improve you must cooperate with the coach’s instructions.

God started the whole process of life on the planet and created us to live in a way that would not only bring glory to himself but would also enable us to enjoy life as he intended it to be lived. The enemy got wind of this and ruined the whole deal. Every since, Jesus has been working to restore us to that original plan.

However, for us to see change in our life whether it is in relating to people, knowing the right direction to take, having the right perspective of who God is, or whatever needs to change in us, we must cooperate with God. This means among other things we must take the classes he tells us to enroll in. We would rather these classes be electives but they are part of the curriculum. Some of these classes are Pain, Darkness, Confusion, Frustration and Anger, and the Unexpected. If we seek to learn as we take these classes, we will begin to see change in our life. If we don’t cooperate with God, we probably will have to take the class over.

Colossians 2:6 and 3:1-10 show that we must focus on what is worthwhile and make the decision to get rid of the dark secrets and habits that have gotten us nowhere. Jesus is offering us freedom from the jails we have been locked in but we must cooperate with him.

Do you want to change?

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.

The Authority

The Authority (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I never get into watching this kind of show partly because I can’t relate and I would rather watch some travel show that highlights intriguing places to go to. But, I wanted to see why so many were hooked on this one. So I watched several episodes including the final one of “The Voice.” I mean really, how do you pick one out of all of these amazing talents?

Just like those contestants bidding for our vote, we have many choices as to what we listen to when making decisions about how to do life. But out of the myriad “authorities” that clamor for attention and claim to have it right, comes one who challenges everything in us. To believe this voice alters everything, reveals our insecurities, quickly humbles us but also gets to the core issues we so desperately want dealt with. Jesus never wasted words and if you heard or hear him talk you are left with few alternatives as what  to do with what he just said.

When Jesus walked around and started talking, people quickly realized and said “this guy’s different.” They never heard this before and they also saw that he was living everything he said. Check out Matthew 7:28 and 29. But John 6:66 reveals the heart of many of us. The more Jesus defined discipleship, the fewer were interested in hanging with him.

So, what gives Jesus the right to silence every other voice that claims to be right? In Matthew 28:18 Jesus says “God’s given me absolute first and last word in heaven and down here on earth.” Word on the Street version. He has absolute authority.

What part of Jesus’definition of discipleship do you have trouble with? Why?

I was sitting in our living room and decided to open the blinds. Our apartment overlooks a lake on about 250 acres of a wildlife refuge. In a matter of a few minutes one of the two bald eagles dove from a tree and sped along the water at about two feet. Then it was back to the tree. But next the juvenile eagle comes and repeats the lesson. They did this twice. What if I had not opened the blinds?

Jesus’ revolutionary perspective on life often clashes with the accepted American or Christian practices. We can easily keep the blinds closed and not take a hard look at what will bring us freedom and a joy in doing and not rationalizing what he said. Jesus was known for saying “you have heard it said, but I say…” These statements introduce us to a very radical challenge. Take for example Matthew 5:27,28 or 33-37 and then there is the suffocating old law of “hate your enemies” and Jesus’ “I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies” in verses 43-48. His take on leadership in Matthew 20:26-28 is also refreshing.

Are you willing to open the blinds and act on what you see?

Perspective gourmande ~ Greedy Perspective

Perspective gourmande ~ Greedy Perspective (Photo credit: twiga269 ॐ FEMEN)

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.