A couple of weeks ago I found I was asking myself the question, “Why in the world did God create the world knowing the decay and destruction that would occur? How could he possibly create the heavens and earth knowing he’d incarnate himself as Jesus to die the death he died on a cross?”
One answer, God didn’t know what would happen. There’s strong arguments around the foreknowledge of God for and against that line of thinking. I’m not in that camp.
Another answer, God did know what would happen and chose to create the heavens and the earth anyway. God is God. God can choose to do whatever. I’m more in this camp but not fully.
My favorite response, “God couldn’t help but create the heavens and the earth.” God is love (1 John 4:8) and the creation of the heavens and the earth were an overflow of God’s love. Just how large is God’s love if creation was an overflow of his love? Large enough to redeem and restore it all.
Of course this is all speculation and no way provable but I can stop and lose myself in imagination. Everything I see and sense, everything I can smell, or anything I can touch and handle could very much be the result of an overflow of God’s love and if that’s true what if that’s a principle for life?
If I’m created in God’s image and this overflow principle is truly connected to God’s image, then I have to accept that overflow can and does happen in my own life. My best ministry and relational moments have always happened in the overflow of my own life. It’s unfathomable but not unreasonable that these moments could be traced back to the very beginning when God began creating the heavens and the earth.
God is so much bigger than we could ever imagine and his overflow, if he has one, is just a hint revealing the magnitude of, “God is love.”
What happens when you trade in your pulse for his pulse? You become a completely different person.
His pulse is compassion and it runs through every artery and vein and neuron of Jesus informing how he sees the world, how he interacts with us, how he approaches others. When you see compassion working itself out in the world, you’re seeing God’s pulse beat through the world.
Jesus sees people created in God’s image, people waiting for restoration, resurrection, and a welcome home party and he sees this whether he’s looking at a world leader, a king, a single mom, or homeless guy on the streets. His pulse, his passion, his mission from God, it’s not about authority and position or success and failure.
When Jesus left his throne in heaven to come live with us, and when he emptied himself of being God (Philippians 2:7-8), he made one thing clear, his pulse, his passion, his heartbeat, it’s something much different than our own. His pulse wasn’t about power, and money, and success.
It was about giving up power and still being the most influential person ever. It was about forsaking riches and walking away only to inherit the entire kingdom of God. He traded life for death and still walked away alive. He could look at the most unfavorable people around and friend them and restore them and leave everyone scratching their heads, knowing that what they saw shouldn’t have worked but did. His pulse is different.
I’m called and you’re called and we’re all called to be followers of Jesus helping to raise up other followers of Jesus, and not just any Jesus, but the Jesus as revealed in scripture. The Jesus whose heartbeat caused him to look past all things uncomfortable and painful and reach out to a hurting and broken world.
Following Jesus means trading in your pulse for his, your heartbeat for his. It means trading in your eyes for his eyes and how he sees the world and trading in your hands and feet for his hands and feet so you can serve others like he did.
Let’s trade in our pulse for God’s pulse so we can be God’s pulse in the world.
We’re called to live out our resurrection but what does that mean? God is all about resurrection. God is the master of breathing life into dead things. God is the perfecter of making things new and giving us hope. When we’ve chosen to follow Jesus, God has brought us back to life by breathing newness into us. We’re given new words to express our hope and through baptism, we experience death to sin, burial of our old selves, and resurrection into new clothes we call salvation. Living out our resurrection is a matter of living out our newness, our hope in Jesus Christ.
We’re no longer walking the path of the dead when we follow Jesus. We walk the path of the living and we the living bring hope to those around us. We the living express our faith by loving others; not by tearing others down with our words. Living out our resurrection means painting words of wisdom that would gently nudge others to consider our way of life. What words are you painting in the lives of others?
Our resurrection inspired faith shouldn’t end up in a list of do’s and don’ts but sometimes it does. Living out our resurrection isn’t so much about pointing out sin in those around us because that’s God’s job. Living out our resurrection is an illustration of God’s love working through us into the lives of others. Someone who is living out their resurrection is obvious. Everything they do and say and touch becomes fruitful because God is the one at work. The only way to live out your resurrection is to let God breathe new life through you.
May God breathe new life through you, and may he love through you into the lives of others, and may your resurrection be in line with that of Jesus Christ’s, giving all honor and all glory to God the Father.
It’s been a hard few weeks. It’s been an even harder few weeks for a family I know who lost one of their own. I’ve always heard it said that death brings things into perspective. It’s a cliché that’s more true than any of us would like it to be. For those of you who don’t know me, I helped co-officiate a funeral of a former student of mine that I had ministered to for four years. It hurt and it was as hard to officiate as much as it hurt. If you’ve read the Eulogy you’ll know that this kid (Matt) was someone I cared very much about and someone I invested a lot of time in.
Switching it up a bit, our high school ministry had winter retreat a week ago and something God-sized happened Saturday night. There isn’t a doubt that the Holy Spirit was moving and in that movement, God spoke to me. Not an audible speaking but a visual speaking of sorts. We had entered a time of worship by praying and singing. As we started this, I could see Matt’s face on every single student that was there, 150+. I didn’t physically see his face on students but my heart and mind saw it.
For the last six months, I’ve been distracted trying to figure out calling but in that moment it became very clear to me what my calling and gifting is. We’re all called to represent Jesus to a broken world, to live out our resurrection before it happens, to make disciples. We’re called to become more like Jesus every day and help others do the same. We all share the same calling.
Gifting, it’s a different story. While we all share the same calling, God has gifted each of us in different ways. Back to the funeral and back to Saturday night at winter retreat; it’s become clear to me that God has gifted me to walk as a student pastor (under various titles, life group leader, coach, etc) the last decade of my life. It’s something I’ve been actively engaged in for a majority of my walk with Christ. It’s something I continue to see myself engaged in for years to come.
Forgiving someone is what happens when you don’t make the person who wronged you pay up. Mercy is what happens when you don’t make someone pay up for the wrongs they’ve committed against you. When I ask my self if I’m a merciful person, I have to ask myself if I’m willing to let things go. Some things obviously need confronted, but not everything.
Someone once passed along this saying to me: See everything, overlook a lot, and correct a little. Sometimes, we have a tendency in life to hold a grudge against others. A grudge is a sure sign that you’re not being merciful and you’re not being forgiving. There are even some people who feel the need to call out everything they see in life. I don’t believe Jesus lived like this. The sin he confronted almost always was directed towards the religious elite. He showed mercy and forgiveness most to those who in society would have written been off the books.
Extending grace is making payment for the wrongs committed against you by others but that’s a topic for another day.
Matt was the sort of guy that needed three ministers in life. It was quite comical at times. I say this half jokingly but it’s true! All three of us and many more loved him. I have stories about Matt that stretch from child car locks to diesel fuel. It’s no secret that Matt was a free spirit of sorts and had his own ways about him. That’s what made Matt into the Matt we all know and the Matt that we are all missing today.
The last time I saw Matt was at my ordination service last year. I had no idea that my last time with Matt would be us celebrating my journey. It’s only fitting that I celebrate Matt’s journey under these unfortunate circumstances but first allow me to speak some truth. We don’t need to have an answer to explain this tragic loss of life and honestly that’s okay. If you’re left wondering why none of this makes any sense, I encourage you to stand at ease. It’s not supposed to make sense. You’ll never be able to understand something that is not supposed to make sense. This is easier said than done, but rest in this truth.
As I was combing through Matt’s writings, I ran across something he wrote that really stood out to me. Love is like playing the piano. First you play by the rules. Then, you must forget the rules and play by the heart. There are no better words to describe Matt and the way he lived his life. Matt didn’t always live by the rules like most of us, but I can firmly tell you he enjoyed life better than most of us and we can all learn from this truth.
I’ve chosen to celebrate Matt with some personal stories. When Matt was in High School, some of us decided to build a bonfire and roast hot dogs behind his house. He asked how big he should make the fire and I told him as big as his parents would let him make it. Our life group was a regular set of pyromaniacs mind you, even the ministers. I don’t think Matt ever asked his parents though because none of us could actually get close enough to the fire to roast hot dogs! Matt thought a triple dousing of diesel fuel was necessary when I told him to make a big fire. When we called him out on the diesel fuel, he gave us the grin that only Matt could give. At the time, I thought it was a waste of twenty dollars in hot dogs, but today, I realize it was a lifelong memory in the making.
My favorite memory of Matt was when he put me in my place. Before ministry, I was an infantryman in the Army and all of the guys knew not to mess with me, well accept for guess who, Matt. He challenged that rule one day by wrestling me to the ground and pinning me there. I’m fairly sure I had to cry uncle before he let me up. I know he’s grinning bigger than ever as I admit this in front of his family and friends because I always told him I would never admit it. Matt was a go getter and when he would stretch the limits he would succeed. We may have reminded Matt of his diesel fuel incident from time to time but he made sure to remind me of this encounter during those “time to times” as well. This story reminds me of two verses that Matt memorized. Psalm 18:1 I love you, Lord. You are my strength. 1 Corinthians 8:9 But you must be careful so that your freedom doesn’t cause others with a weaker conscience to stumble.
The memory we all share together is Matt’s car. First he would correct us all and especially the TV reporters in recent days. One time, when Matt and I were riding around, he corrected me three times for telling him I liked his “Lime Green” car. I can hear Matt correcting me now, “It’s Samba, not Lime Green!” Of course, from time to time I would still call his car Lime Green to give him a hard time. He’d promptly remind me that he could take me to the ground.
In case you don’t know, Matt’s car was a Honda Del Sol. His Del Sol represented friendship. On more than one occasion, Matt would give a ride to a friend in need. His Del Sol represented conversation. On more than one occasion, Matt and I exchanged life conversations where we gave each other advice while cruising down the parkway. Matt’s Del Sol represented enjoying life. Many of you experienced just having a good time while riding around with Matt or sitting with him at the Parkette drive-in.
Many of you knew when a Samba Del Sol was in town it meant Matt was in town. Matt’s Del Sol represented ministry and his relationship with God. I’ve seen him bring people to church in that car. I’ve been with Matt window to window as he wrestled around with God sized issues. He sat in his car and I sat in mine and in all of conversations I never doubted that he loved Jesus in his own way. While Matt ultimately lost his life in this car, through Jesus he brought much life to others while riding in his car, more than any of us will ever know.
Philippians 1:21 tells us that living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. We patiently await the resurrection when God will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control (Philippians 3:21). Hold fast to these memories and await the day that all of us who are in Christ Jesus will be reunited once again.
Hey - thanks for the follow. You have some interesting thoughts and I look forward to reading more. Also, I love how your background scrolls sideways as I scroll down. I've never seen that before. Really, really cool!
Thanks! You have some good reads yourself. The background of my site is a picture I took in California. I was trying to figure out how to view more of it because I liked the colors and decided to do the scrolling horizontally and vertically piece.
You’re nothing more than dirt that God in his infinite mercy and grace decided to breathe life into. Sounds harsh but I’m being serious. Now that’s a literal interpretation of Genesis but that aside where does the word humble come from?
The word humble happens to come from the same word that human does and that word is humus. Humus is the organic compound of dirt, or if your a soil activist, I’ll use the word soil as not to offend you. If you can see the relations, the word humble comes from the word dirt/dust. So why does any of this matter?
It’s humbling and it’s humiliating (another hum word) to know that we are nothing more than dust without God breathing into us. It illustrates our position to God and others.
A humble servant is someone who serves others from the posture of, “I’m nothing more than dirt unless God breathes life into me.” You really can’t lower yourself any further than dirt and if you choose to recognize your origins in the dust of this world it’s easy to understand God is in control and that you’re no better than anyone else.
Apply this to servanthood and you understand your place beneath God and alongside others.
“For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.”—Deuteronomy 10:17-19
Strangers scare me. The idea of being hospitable to a stranger scares me even more. What if they decide to assault me or something? What if they decide to take advantage of my kindness? These fears are rooted in a lack of love because perfect love drives out all fear.
Hospitality is the act of offering warmth to someone. Hospitality is about meeting needs and offering kindness. Being cordial is not the same thing as being hospitable. We often tie hospitality to our homes but it goes beyond that. Look at Matthew 10 for an example of hospitality.
Anyone who receives you receives me, and anyone who receives me receives the Father who sent me. If you receive a prophet as one who speaks for God, you will be given the same reward as a prophet. And if you receive righteous people because of their righteousness, you will be given a reward like theirs. And if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded.
There are plenty of other examples of hospitality in scripture but imagine this: What if when we were interacting with others, it were like interacting with Jesus? What if when we bought someone a drink, or brought someone clothes, it was like bringing Jesus a drink or bringing Jesus clothes? What if when we are hospitable to people we’re actually being hospitable to Jesus?
Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?”
The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
You see, when we are hospitable to others we are actually being hospitable to Jesus.
Have you ever become frustrated with the waiter who messed your order up? When we show up to restaurants we expect to be served. What if we flipped that mentality on it’s head. What if when we showed up to a restaurant we expected ourselves to serve the waiter/waitress instead? But that’s not how it’s supposed to be right?
Being a servant isn’t about position or title. It’s about how we position our hearts towards others. Anyone can get frustrated with a waiter who messes up a food order. What if we responded with service instead? What if we served the waiter with immediate forgiveness or immediate affirmation that it’s not a big issue instead of frustration? You’d be bordering what it means to be a good servant.
Christ didn’t come to be served but to serve (Matthew 20:28). But that’s not how it’s supposed to be right? How many of us lead lives like this?
There’s a lot of buzz on the internet in Christian circles about what it means to be man. I’m not going to get into any specifics but let me say this first: It has nothing to do with machismo. Machismo is the spanish word that means prominently exhibited or excessive masculinity. If you are flaunting your manhood you’re probably not a real man. Think of it in terms of advertising.
Have you ever seen an advertisement for an Aston Martin, a very expensive line of British cars? Probably not because the car sells itself. Have you ever seen an advertisement for a Toyota Corolla? Absolutely. Cheapened things in today’s economy need advertisement in order to sell. The Aston Martin sells itself because of it’s superior quality. An Aston Martin Vanquish at the base price of $180,000 will cost you everything. You’d have to give up everything to afford it.
To be a real man you will have to give up everything to get it. You can’t go for a cheapened Corolla, add some spoilers and ground effects and come out with a car superior to an Aston Martin. It’s what’s under the hood, what you can’t see, that counts. Real manhood beats machismo every time. So what does biblical manhood actually look like?
Let’s start with a reframing statement: Biblical manhood is a posture of the heart. It’s not something you put on display.
Biblical manhood is about a posture of gentleness. Jesus never tried to overpower people. He always spoke truth from God but never forced it on anyone or attempted to make them feel bad. It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, not a man’s.
Being a man means putting yourself last. In a society dominated with making it to the top, men often trample over other men and even women to make it to the top. Jesus consistently put himself last even though he is the God of the universe. Jesus chose to be trampled rather than trample.
Married men, being a spiritual leader to your wife looks a lot like serving her. Jesus exemplified what leadership is by serving the disciples. Scripture says he emptied himself of being God and took on the nature of a servant. Even though Jesus was over the disciples, he showed them what true leadership was by serving them.
If you are going to be man in the way of Jesus, be a servant of your wife. I’m going to go out on a limb here (one I don’t believe is true) but if a wife is to be in the kitchen, go and help her cook. If it’s a wife’s role to keep a clean house, leave her with nothing to clean. That will create an unending reciprocal nature of service. It’s what Jesus modeled to the disciples.
Jesus never had to flaunt that he was the Leader. Jesus never had to flaunt that he was God. Jesus flaunted servanthood and stewardship. People knew Jesus was Christ by they way he lived his life.
Men, you don’t need to flaunt your manhood. Prove you’re a man by your ability to serve others, even your enemies, especially your wife, but not by the ability to display your machismo.
Gentleness gets things done. This one is hard for men. It’s hard for me. In a world full of noise and distration, I often feel like I have to shout to make things happen. Sometimes I’ll even get a tone with others as if that will motivate them into action, which is an issue for another day. It’s easy to think that being aggressive about something will cause it to happen because that’s what we see around us.
Do you ever get a tone with your wife, your husband, a coworker, or a friend and expect them to listen to you? Tell me how that turns out for you or better yet, let me tell you how that turns out. Are you ever rough with your words? Do you have road rage? Are you easily angered. Can you say that you walk gently and that you release humble words from your lips?
Is it even possible that gentleness gets things done? I think so:
“Look at my Servant, whom I have chosen. He is my Beloved, who pleases me. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations. He will not fight or shout or raise his voice in public. He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle. Finally he will cause justice to be victorious. And his name will be the hope of all the world.” (Matthew 12:18-21)
Jesus who rescued the world, did it with gentleness. He didn’t have to raise his voice and he didn’t have to fight. He was even gentle when he was falsely accused of things. That’s something we could all learn. He accomplished much through gentleness.
Gentleness isn’t something we do. It’s a posture. I recognize that I have no right to yell at someone, or raise my voice at them. I recognize I have no right to have a tone with those closest to me. I recognize all of this because those around me are created in the Image of God.
Being gentle with those around you is obviously serving them but more than that, being gentle with those around you is a step towards becoming more like Christ and that is what we strive for. Gentleness is a posture of submission.
Forgiving others means not making them pay for what they’ve done to you. That’s an image that has settled in my mind since attending the Poets, Prophets, Preachers conference a few years ago. If you wont forgive others until they’ve apologized to you, then you’re exercising selfishness. How much weight does forgiveness really carry when viewed through that lens. Forgiveness doesn’t mean much when you’re expected to pay up (That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to reconcile, this post is simply about forgiveness).
Do you know how special it feels to be forgiven when you’ve made mistakes without having to go out of your way to make things right? It’s as if you are valued for more than your mistakes. Now flip that: Do you know how much it means to others when they know you value them above thier mistakes, when you are willing to show them forgiveness without making them, “pay up?”
Is it a biblical concept? Yes.
Jesus on the cross prayed, “Father forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”
Jesus to the disciples, “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”
Jesus to those about to stone the woman, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”
Stephen to those stoning him, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”
002. Am I a disciple by keeping the teachings of Jesus?
I have a lot of friends frustrated with Christians around them. I admit I’m growing frustrated too but more than anything I’m growing frustrated with myself. Following Jesus isn’t easy and it will cost you everything. I don’t know that following Jesus has really cost me that much and that sort of scares me.
When you keep the teachings of Jesus you’ve got to die to yourself to follow him. There is this movement in Christianity that some are labeling as hypersensitive, seeker sensitive and etc. I get it, I honestly do but there will never be anything harder to do than loving others and even your enemies and do you know what it takes to love your enemy?
Dying to yourself.
If there is anything clear that the Gospels record about Jesus, it’s that Jesus was love but it’s who he directed his love towards that’s astounding. He directed it towards his enemies, he directed it towards the poor, the broken hearted, and those in need. What kind of person does this? Not one concerned with the worries of their own life.
Jesus said that everything hangs on loving God with everything you’ve got and loving others as you would yourself. Yeah, I can tell people about Jesus day in and day out, but can I love people day in and day out. Can I bring healing to their lives because of my love for Jesus?
I’m only a disciple when I keep the teachings of Jesus. That means living out love like Jesus lived out love and that means dying to myself daily.
Why am I frustrated at myself more than those around me? I fail to die to myself daily. I fail to love others like I should.
What a year! Things keep getting better and I don’t know how to contain myself. These are some of my favorite and life-changing moments.
To my wife Shannon, there was moment after moment but California takes them all. What a beautiful place. I won’t forget our first plane ride together or the moment we saw our first Redwoods. Thanks for showing me what it looks like to shepherd people and for being by side.
To Mom and Dad, thanks for listening to my rambles over the phone trying to figure life out. I wouldn’t be where I am today without you listening to me flesh things out. It resulted in much of what I’m able to be thankful about this year.
To Bryce, John, Adam, Erik, and Luke, getting to experience what discipleship is truly like with you guys has revolutionized my world. I’m hungry for more and don’t know how I could ever settle for anything less.
To the eldership team at Southland, ordination brought life into balance. It was a sweet, sweet win against the enemy and reaffirmed what God has been doing in my life and what he will continue doing in my life.
Chris Hahn, thanks for rocking my world with the question, “How do you know when to leave?” during the ordination interview. My leadership perspective is forever changed because of that one question. Thanks for the advice, “Go where God shows you favor.” It’s not only guided my life but many that I’ve interacted with throughout the year.
To Jacqueline and Brandon, celebrating and officiating your marriage was rewarding. In fact, your marriage was the final event in a line of many that caused me to pursue ordination. Thanks for that inspiration.
To the discipleship team at Southland, what I’ve learned from you has helped form a path that will guide the rest of my life. And to those that I’ve had the privilege of sitting down with and seeing how you do ministry, I’m forever grateful and eternally influenced.
To Jeremy, what an endurance race this year. There has been hit after hit, but how God continues to work 150 miles apart when we listen to his leading, well it’s unexplainable. “Keep praying for Pikeville”
To God, you are holy, holy holy, you are the Lord God Almighty, who was, and who is, and who is to come. Thanks for Jesus who came to dwell among us, thanks for your spirit who dwells within us. Thank you for these moments of 2011.
Am I a child of God? How could the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords call me son? What merit is there to my life that God would consider me worthy of his family? I am not a part of his bloodline. I am not good enough. I am not extravagant or anything special. I tend to mess a lot of things up. There is nothing about me that makes me worthy of adoption. But then I remember, I have been covered in his blood. I had a price set on my head to be bought into God’s family and it was the life of Jesus. It was the life of God’s son.
I am no longer a child of the darkness. I am a child of the light. I’ve been redeemed. I’ve been freed. I am an entirely new creation. I was bought for a price. I even have an inheritance promised by God and I’ve been given the right to represent my Father. How could I possibly be a child of God? Because Jesus loves me and nothing else matters. I’ve been adopted into God’s family. God who reverses death into life reverses the question and I proclaim, “I am a child of God.”
Some people hate being asked questions. Personally I love them. There has been one big question on my mind and heart since the middle of this year. What does it look like to follow Jesus better? A couple of weeks ago, I decided to read the Gospels and ask myself a question every time I ran into an idea or concept that would help me follow Jesus better. I’ve posted my list below. I don’t want these to turn into legalistic requirements like the Pharisees would impose. It’s just an attempt to follow Jesus better, nothing more and nothing less.
I’ll forewarn you, some of the questions might send you down the wrong track so please be careful if you try to answer these for yourself. For example, one of the questions is, “Can I cast out demons?” I don’t know if we have or haven’t been given authority from God to cast out demons. I’m not entirely sure I want to know to be honest but I can approach the question like this: Does the ministry that God uses through me displace evil?
If you decide to answer one of these in the comments section, copy and paste the question along with its corresponding number.
001. Am I a child of God? 002. Am I a disciple by keeping the teachings of Jesus? 003. Am I a forgiving person? 004. Am I a gentle person? 005. Am I a good servant? 006. Am I a hospitable person? 007. Am I a humble servant? 008. Am I a merciful person? 009. Am I a person of humility and humbleness? 010. Am I a person of reconciliation?
Shannon is probably wondering what in the world I’m thinking as she reads this title on Facebook or Twitter. Let me say up front, don’t criticize your wife because it makes life much easier (and safer to sleep). Let’s get to the real issue at hand with that out of the way…
I interact with a lot of people online and from coast to coast I’ve seen a trend where followers of Jesus will preach, “Love your enemies” but in the same breath criticize the church for not doing so. You are inherently contradicting yourself when you do this. Let me be clear, the Church is the Bride of Christ and when you criticize her don’t expect it to end well.
Handling disappointment with the church is much like handling disappointment with your wife. Nothing is ever resolved by criticizing your wife. If all your wife gets is criticism and no encouragement or steps towards true resolve, then sleep with one eye opened. Replace criticism with leadership and by leadership I don’t mean, “Hey follow me because I know better.” Replace criticism with an inside leadership that causes other people to do what you are doing. It’s an anonymous sort of leadership, you know, the kind where God gets the credit.
Love your enemies, criticize the church? Not so much.
Love your enemies, show others in the church how to do the same? Now that’s an epic win.
There is no doubt we are called to become more like Jesus every day. I’ve been creating a ministry wiki where I can flesh my thoughts out. One of the first things I felt compelled to do was to go through the Gospels and ask simple questions every time I ran into something that I thought would help me become more like Jesus. I ended up with 724 unique questions and I’ve started categorizing them into a ministry/character sketch. I’m not finished yet but I’ve come up with a summary of what really sticks out to me about Jesus and his ministry.
Becoming more like Jesus looks like loving your friends, others, and even your enemies. It looks like serving people in ways that bring healing to them, displacing evil in their lives, and giving in ways that meet their needs. It looks like telling others the message that Jesus brought to us, the Kingdom of God is here with eternal life and Jesus is the Savior. You have to believe who Jesus says he is and undeniably follow him. Following him means giving up everything to do so. Following him means going places he would go. Jesus died on a cross outside of Jerusalem, the city he loved. Becoming more like Jesus means praying to the Father persistently. Jesus had set places of prayer and set times of prayer. It is much more than just saying a quick prayer as you go through out your day. When you start doing these things, it doesn’t end there. You teach others to do the same, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy spirit showing them the ways of Jesus.
We’ve been discussing ekklesia in our discipleship huddle for the last couple of weeks. Yesterday, Adaryll mentioned how the first part of Matthew 28:19 would better be translated as you go, make disciples. This really changed the way that I’ve understood what most call the great commission:
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (Matthew 28:19-20)
When you read the commission from Jesus as go and make disciples there is this sense that you stop whatever you are doing and make disciples. I don’t think there is anything wrong with this understanding, but …
When you read the commission from Jesus like this: as you go, make disciples you’re not stopping everything around you. You’re making disciples as you go and do your everyday life. That’s so powerful!
What would it look like for someone to see you interacting with your spouse? Does it reflect Jesus?
What would it look like for someone to see you interacting with your co-workers? Does it reflect Jesus?
What would it look like for someone to see you hanging out with your friends at a coffee shop? Would they see Jesus at work through you?
As you go, in your everyday life, whether you’re a nurse, a teacher, an electrician, a social worker, whatever your life may be, make disciples.
The Hand of God, its big enough. Gods hand is big enough to hold us from the flame. His hand is big enough to block the attacks Satan throws at us and His hand is big enough to cover us with an endless grace. Gods hands spin the world into motion, form us from the clay and from Gods hands a creative work has begun.
The prophet Isaiah gives us these words. Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand? We are lucky if we could hold a cup of water in our hands and we would be really talented if the water we held in our hands never leaked out. God can hold the waters of the world in the hollow of his hand and still have a free hand orchestrating the rest of life. Gods hands are big enough for any task.
With the breadth of his hands, he marked off the heavens. We cant even number the stars that God has filled the heavens with. We are lucky if we can hold our hand up and block out the bright sun from our eyes. But Gods hand, it created the Sun that greets us every morning, the moon and stars that great us every night and the heavens that we share with them. Gods hands are big enough for any task.
Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket? Were lucky if we can pack more than half our weight for any considerable distance yet God can hold all the dust of the earth in a basket. Gods hands are big enough for any task and we sing God has the hold world in his hands. Who has weighed the mountains on a scale or the hills in a balance?
Were extremely lucky if we can climb to the tallest peak in the world and survey the wondrous mountain ranges around us. It would be more than a sight to be able to see a couple of hundred miles in each direction but despite this, we still cant see all of the mountains of the world at once. Gods hand is big enough form the mountains and the hills. His hand is big enough to weigh them on the scales or to pick them up and throw them in the oceans. Gods hands are big enough for any task.
Gods own hand laid the foundation of the earth, and his right hand spread out the heavens; When He summons them, they all stand up together. Gods hands are big enough to hold all creation in balance. His hands are big enough to make the mountains tremble, to make the waters roar or make it rain day and night. Gods hands are big enough for any task.
My father, which gave them to me, is greater than all. There is no Sun, no moon, no amount of stars, shaped earth, body of water, or any bit of creation that exists except by the mercy of God. Our God is greater than any other god. Gods hands are big enough for the task. No one is able to pluck us out of the hand of God. Gods hands are big enough for any task.
Seemingly, the biggest fear of all is evil. But evil is no match for God because Gods hands are big enough to take on evil. Gods hands are big enough to hold us from the flame, to block all of Satans attacks and to cover us with an endless grace despite our own failures. Gods word will speak louder than we could ever speak. His word will speak more clearly than we could ever iterate. Gods word tells us that Gods hands are big enough for any task.
What was Gods biggest task? Words from Isaiah once more. See, I have engraved you into the palms of my hands. While Christ died on the cross, suspended between the heavens and the earth, his hands were big enough. Not only are Gods hands scarred by the nails of the cross but they are are scarred with every name etched into His hands. Gods hands were big enough to take on the nails and to take on sin. Gods hands are big enough for any task. Gods hands are big enough for any task.