Posts Tagged ‘Courage’

It may be an important conversation or just getting ready for a trip but just when we think the conversation is over or we’ve finished packing, we hear “just one more thing” and cringe wondering what’s coming next. It could be good news or…

In Mark 10:21 is the climax of a conversation Jesus had with a man who in today’s terminology would be a wall street tycoon who bought a few thousand shares of Apple stock at $10 a share or a business executive who had a lot in several banks.

Jesus had just finished listing the Old Testament check list of the “Big Ten” and probably a few more and the guy was feeling good about this conversation. Then, the bomb-“one more thing you lack” Jesus said. Maybe the guy was beaming with excitement or somewhat confused, but when Jesus told him to sell everything he owned and give it away to the poor and then follow Him, well…The Word on the Street perhaps captures it like this-“The guy’s face shifts through the gears, from anticipation down to hollow. He walks off looking suicidal-he’s stinking rich.”

Just like when we get a cut on our arm and someone offers to help with it we say “don’t touch it!” because it’ll hurt. It’s the same with truth or the facts-it usually hurts to deal with it and we would rather not.

Is there “just one more thing” you know God has been pointing out to you to face or deal with? Why wait? Be a Psalm 119:60 kind of person.

How would you like to carry around a 50 pound weight for 5 years? That weight might be a problem we know we have but won’t deal with. Why do we do this? Matthew 11:28 and 29 show us that we don’t have to carry this weight. Our greatest fear might be that God will show us the reason why we don’t deal with this and then we will have to change something in our life. But why are we unwilling to change when we know God has our best interest in mind? He promises real life and rest. We need to come clean as to why we hold on to the weight.

Some issues are so entrenched within us we can’t think of living any other way. And to change…well let’s just say the camel going through the eye of the needle would be easier. Jesus dealt with a well-meaning guy who was able to buy whatever car, house or gadget or chariot in his day because he was in the top 1% when it came to wealth. In Mark 10:21 Jesus puts a dagger in this guy’s heart-“sell it all, give it to those needing it and then come follow me.” Jesus knew this was the idol that kept him from following Rule 1-“no gods before me.”

Do we really want to know and learn how to deal with that problem that always keeps tripping us up? Why not take Jesus at his word and get rid of the weight?

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?

Danger Ahead

Danger Ahead (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Who wouldn’t want to go to Disneyland? think of the fun taking in all of the exhibits, rides and neat experiences not found in the everyday working world. We should be entitled to a break from the daily grind so we take out all of the travel guides and what do we choose? Disneyland type experiences rate near the top.

There are some others that are only found in one brochure. Not too many would buy ads for this travel guide. In  fact some travel agencies refuse to carry this one and if they have to, they rarely mention it or disguise what is in it. The travel agency is often the church that pulls out all the brochures about the trips that we can take that are filled with stuff that feeds our self-interests like: fun, cool, or relaxing.

If the tour guide is Jesus, the information contained in his brochure is quite different. The trip will be exciting for sure but it will include things like: danger, life threatening opportunities, huge risk, opportunities to face your fear and the most meaningful trip you will ever take.

A quote from Jesus might stir your interest or cause you to throw this brochure in the trash. Look at Matthew 5:10 and 11. Words like persecution, being put down by others, people speaking lies about you to discredit Jesus should be included only in the fine print and not headlined-right? Consider the source of these words. But there is someone else who has taken this trip  who is also quoted in this brochure, his name is Paul. His description of the trip might make us swallow hard. We can’t just casually pass off his travel tip as only for a few. Check out 2 Corinthians 11:23-27. This description of the trip is tough to swallow but waiting for the person who does not check with their insurance agency before signing up.

Are you thrilled with the opportunity or paralyzed by the lack of security and comfort that following Jesus might eliminate for you? Jesus challenges us to come and see!

Given the choice, most of us would prefer to drive a car with heated seats, is

Inconvenience

Inconvenience (Photo credit: futureshape)

extremely comfortable, never needs repairs…you get the idea. Why would we choose one that has a window that does not quite roll all the way up, whose heater occasionally works and has no air conditioning? That one can stay on the used car lot even if it was offered to us free.

When are we really a neighbor? If we move into neighborhoods that are protected by American Home Shield, it is likely we might meet those living around us because they are probably safe. I mean, when they moved in we didn’t see them unloading various knives or weapons we can’t pronounce. We could easily invite them over for a BBQ.

But a neighbor is one who gets excited about who just moved in next door or who they just met at the gas station because now they have the opportunity to show them just how much God really loves them. It doesn’t matter they wear a black leather jacket, don’t wear shoes most of the time, have hair the length of your sister’s or have a very interesting tattoo visible all of the time. And what if they just moved in from Somalia?

If we have concluded that God brought this person into our life to learn that Jesus is more than an exclamation mark in a conversation, then we can be the real neighbor.

Check out Luke 10:29-37. Given the choice, most people are never going to live in neighborhoods where they have to be inconvenienced by other’s needs. The possibility of an assault happening does not check one of their boxes. But the real neighbor is ready to love people that God intersects their life with anywhere and anytime. God knows who these people are and is thrilled to give them the opportunity to accurately define  neighbor.

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.

Thomas and Sarah at The Ritz Hotel

Thomas and Sarah at The Ritz Hotel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One popular slang expression in the 1920’s was “putting on the Ritz” meaning to dress very fashionably and was inspired from the apparently very fine Ritz Hotel. We do like people to see us at our best, to think we are really some cool dude, or that we have it all together. But usually that is as deep as it goes. No way they are going to see what we just thought about while we were at that last party or the glance we just gave their spouse. We’re not taking off the Ritz!

For most of us, being close only equals showing up for the church group meeting or the small group. We might even contribute an idea that causes people to think we’re special. That really is what being real and authentic is about, right? Our intellect is on display for them but not our heart. If we only talk about how great our week went, we tend to be in competition with each other. But when we share how we really blew it last night, we have a chance to become part of a family.

James 5:16 in the Message starts off “Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other…” It results in living together in considerably deeper water. Being real opens the door; consistently being real allows people to sit together on the couch  sharing things that really matter.

Are you sitting on the couch or standing by the door?  Is courage in your vocabulary?