Posts Tagged ‘risk’

Taking hikes in the Idaho mountains can provide some exhilarating experiences. I saw a documentary on some people climbing frozen waterfalls in Idaho, something I will probably never experience. Why wouldn’t I consider this adventure? I can think of several reasons but beneath every one of them is that it seems too risky for this older body. I’ll let them take a GoPro camera and watch it on U Tube.

There is a risk that has far greater implications and consequences in life. If we really want to know what God is about, it requires risk in many ways but if we don’t take that adventure, we not only don’t experience something hard to put into words but we miss out on the essence of life. It’s true Jess is with us but the places he goes are often anything but safe. He challenges us to think differently or really live by faith. It seems safer to just not believe in any of this stuff, but that can be like never having a Turkish coffee. You can’t believe what you missed.

Job decided to get after it with God but take a look at Job 40 and see if you would want to be in this conversation. Why take the risk? We don’t know all of what Job learned but we do know some things. Look at Job 42:2-6. Verse 2 and 5 in The Word on the Street say  it like this-“I know you can do anything and everything you like, when you like, how you like…not I see you with my own eyes…” How much was this worth learning?

What is God asking you to believe, to trust him for, or to think differently about? Join a small revolutionary minority and experience life as it was intended to be lived.

“Be careful little lips what you say” is an old time phrase used in a song sung to little kids a while back. In one sense, this is a powerful warning to set a guard on what we say. Psalm 141:3 speaks directly to this. And what we say is so powerful, it could be compared to being an arsonist. Look at James 3:3-6 for even more about how what we say can be highly destructive.

Yes, we need to exercise some caution when speaking. However, when you are involved in a conversation over a beer with Christian buds or with the top pagans in the city and you know you are about to introduce something into the conversation that probably will result in some unpleasant or confused reactions, what do you do? If God whispered in your heart and told you to say it because it is right, would that make a difference?

Jesus cared deeply about what was right and spoke truth into conversations even though He knew it would make people angry or confused but it was necessary. Jesus seemed to risk his reputation everywhere He went. Sometimes it was intentional and others it was the result of who He was.

One such instance in Matthew 12:46-50 is one of those. Think about just hearing this without the background you and I have with the Bible in our homes and apartments. Jesus stretched the understanding of everyone who heard Him or heard about this. Think about the implications of being connected to Jesus in this way. Believing the stuff Jesus said is one thing, but doing what He said is the indicator that you or I are Jesus’ brother or sister. Would He be able to speak to you or me as one of His brothers or sisters?

Learning by Doing

Learning by Doing (Photo credit: BrianCSmith)

In 1991 I took several students to Athens, Greece on an 8 week summer mission project to work with refugees from several countries. The main purpose was to help these students learn in real life and from challenging situations, some aspects of what it meant to be a disciple of Jesus. Tight sleeping quarters, strange food (for us), language barriers, major traffic (5 million live in Athens) all contributed to our learning.

We could have done a Bible study on selfishness or how to get along with people who don’t agree with you, while sitting at Starbucks in Denver but that would be an inadequate setting to really learn about these aspects of life. It is doing life together where learning intersects our biases and preferences. It disturbs our comfortable lifestyle when you want Mexican food but there are no restaurants of this nature in sight.

When Jesus called the potential disciples to “come follow me” in Matthew 4:19, his plan was to spend almost 3 years with them in situations that would have caused most of us to change the channel on our TV and continue continue eating our popcorn. But think of what they would learn and how they would be impacted forever. Or consider what Timothy learned from Paul as seen in 2 Timothy 3:10 and 11. This could not have adequately been taught in a sterile environment.

Implications: Messages delivered on Sunday mornings, Bible studies in a living room, teaching done in an auditorium are ok but fail to deliver the necessary visual aid that only happens as we share life together.

How can you begin to learn like this and help others learn by sharing life together?

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!

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.