Do you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength?
This was the question Jesus posed to the religious leader in Mark 12. He, like us, interpreted Jesus’ cutting words as “THAT is some really good teachin’!” Because we have the enormous privilege of having all access to God’s word we have allowed the most amazing words ever to be uttered to become too familiar. We’ve turned them into pleasantries, instead of heart breaking challenges.
Jesus establishes His Kingdom by helping people come to terms with their deficiencies, so that they might find that His provision is more than enough. In like fashion His people are called to do the same.
This is how Hell fire and brimstone preaching works. Not that it is right or the way of Christ. But it shakes people out of their slumber.
Jesus did it over and over again in the gospels. He cut people straight to the heart. Nicodemus came to Him in the night pontificating and Jesus CUT STRAIGHT to his heart “You must be born again!” The rich young ruler came to Him wanting to be justified and He told him to “Sell all you have and follow me!” Peter did it at Pentecost.
Yes, there are wonderful things we can learn about the statements, about the Greek, about the culture of that time etc. etc. etc. But don’t miss the fact that Jesus most always needed to sober people up to the Kingdom.
The reality is that God’s love for us is so very immense that whatever causes us to crack and see Him gets overshadowed by His goodness. There is no dark thing that the Light of God’s love can’t out shine.
Ponder that first question I asked at the top of this page. Bring it into prayer and allow the Lord to meet you in the answer.
Realize the enormous love God has for you and depend on it. Make it such a fabric of your being that you become willing to call someone else out of the slumber of their sad lives unto that same love. Be willing to be that girl or guy. It’s the way of the Kingdom.
The first red letters of the New Testament come at the climax of Luke chapter 2 when Jesus’ family visited Jerusalem for Passover.
“Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house?”
In the midst of this short story I believe we are exposed to a CRITICAL character trait about the Lord Jesus, to follow Him. His family “supposed” Him to be in the caravan but He was not.
How many times do we do things and suppose Jesus is with us? How many times do we take action and suppose this is what Jesus wants us to do? Are we at a job we suppose Jesus has called us to?
In fact, supposing goes against the act of following. People who are fond of Jesus are sharply separated along these lines. We can confidently recognize one group as disciples and the other group…. not.
(I totally hijacked an entire article on weight training/power lifting by Jim Wendler and changed about 25 phrases to reflect a life of discipleship. The bold words are mine the rest is his. The original article is here www.jimwendler.com/2015/09habits-of-strang-lifters/. He has some pretty brilliant training perspectives. As you’ll see bleeding through this re-written article)
Without a doubt, the strongest and best disciples in the world have consistently busted their buns in the prayer room. For decades. Not weeks, not a year, but decades. There are genetic freaks out there that achieve a high level of spirituality quickly, but comparing yourself to them is unfair and will probably drive you out of the faith and into a 10-year “I hate church” bender. Now, consistency doesn’t always mean they’re going all out, every day. It means they chip away slowly, but surely.
Even with failures, hard times, faltering of spiritual leadership, terrible churches, etc., the great disciples will find a way to adapt and overcome. If that means following Christ alone in your own sanctuary at your house, they do it. If that means having to train in a mega church by themselves, they get it done. If that means they have to train around wounds, they research and find a way. Nothing will stand in their way and when an obstacle appears, they don’t get frustrated; they simply find a different route around it. It’s easy to be motivated and excited to pray when everything is going your way. It’s another thing to hit a wall, scramble, kick, and scratch until you look back and see the marks of blood and sweat you leave behind.
(This was written to be read allowed as a devotional for ADD listeners like myself.)
A friend asked how I was doing the other morning and I responded “I’m here… I am human”. I was training for a race and my feet hurt. I had been doing too much on every level. Real life stuff, here. I guess I could have just said that I was “doing great!”. But it wasn’t that type of friend and besides, I’m becoming more and more comfortable with the status of my humanity.
For seemingly well intended reasons we find all kinds of reasons to remain reserved when interacting with one another. Even in some of our most intimate relationships we still don’t feel safe enough to share some of our true feelings and perspectives. Surely this is a problem.
Sharing all of our inner workings is an error, of course. In fact that can be a different problem all together. More important is the way in which we live so very isolated among plenty of people and find ourselves feeling lonely.
Jesus taught us to call God our Father which was vastly different from the religious teachings of his time. One of the most unique facets of Christianity when compared to the varied strands of philosophy and religion is the right to “become children of God”. This was one of the most unique things Christ brought to our attention: creator, all-powerful, brooding over the darkness, hand spanning across the universe God is our daddy. It was on this point that the religious of Jesus’ day had such a hard time.Continue reading “Being Human”
History has the ability to haunt us. Be it our personal history, family history, or the history of our nation. Yet, the future has a way of bringing us hope, optimism, perseverance, and a bold joy that breaks down the structures of evil.
In recent weeks and months, we have all been reminded as a nation of the extended struggle we’ve had with racial injustice. Although we’ve made gigantic strides ahead throughout the last century, in recent months we’ve witnessed grave injustices in our law enforcement, the tragedy in Charleston, the hate crimes towards local churches and their congregants, and numerous other incidents. It seems that with each of these instances a corporate shudder strikes in us and is a reminder of our painful and shameful past; A past that some choose to use to fuel hatred and bitterness. But for most of us, this past is a very real bruise from which we’re trying to recover. (I think it would be wise to add here that no two of us have had the exact same experiences that would allow any other person to bring complete resolution or speak exactly where we all are. Only God has that capability.)
It seems that no matter how hard we try to outlive our past, with the grave infractions perpetrated by a very small percentage of our population, we are seemingly brought back to square one. I say “seems” because we are so susceptible to allowing the events of the past to dictate our lives. But that does not have to be the case. Continue reading “From the Future”
To say my ambition is dead sounds a little morbid. And an exaggeration. My dreams and visions have had time to reign in my life and for the most part those things had their day. I’ve accomplished things in my life–things that others haven’t; things to be proud of. But the effort to tame and steer those ferrel dreams has become too much for me. In my pursuit of them I’ve realized that my dreams and how I want them realized are akin to mirages. They seem to be great in the planning and development, but the fulfillment has left me feeling just as empty and dissatisfied as I did when they were unfulfilled.
It seems to me that many, if not all, of those dreams for my life and the people that I envisioned being in them were good and God given. Plans to help others, plans to nurture people and to lay down my life in the process. The thing is–when it comes to participating in God’s Kingdom only Christ’s dream can being fulfilled and it is meticulous and perfect. As much as we, in certain glimpses of time, try and capture the essence of how everything works by making estimations and conclusions, it’s only a matter of time before the proverbial kaleidoscope of time shifts and we find ourselves attempting to make sense of the absolute mayhem that ensued as a result of our decisions. From my estimation most people are in one of 2 stages: the figuring out and controlling stage, or in the stage of becoming aware of how random and seemingly untame this life really is.Continue reading “Progressive Surrender”
Being a righteous person and being perceived as a righteous person are not always synonymous. Being righteous sometimes causes people to perceive you as wicked. And being perceived as righteous sometimes requires a person to do wicked things to maintain that perception. The difference is in the secret motive of a person’s heart. Take the Christ for example – the only perfect Person ever. Misunderstood, rejected, crucified and killed. Righteous.
A Friend: What wicked thing can be done with a Christian motivation? Me : Is the word Christian an adjective or a noun?
After listening to a sermon the other day I posted on Facebook a very strong opinion about how preachers should do their preaching. The specific preacher I was listening to at the time was circling round and round a point for what seemed way too long, never really saying much. Being entertaining, but not communicating the point he had set out to make. I was fed up, as I am with most preaching, and spoke my mind in public.
Most people loved what I had to say. Many people have never been on the underside of ministry like I have, nor have the perspective of church things like I do. And they seem to act giddy when someone is willing to speak the truth, even about the church.
The truth that I’ve found and that is central to my message to the Church is that Christ is the One who has earned ultimate authority over man kind and it is our job as the Church to point others unto the glory that is completely His. So that they may begin to walk uprightly with God through the life and presence of Jesus Christ… and in and amongst those who call themselves church.