Tuesday, January 29, 2008

They Rejoiced

There are times when I read the scriptures and what I read seems to make sense to me. When reading Acts 5 I had the opposite reaction. The end of the chapter has Peter and other apostles being flogged for preaching in Christ's name. Their response to being flogged and imprisoned, the NLT says they were rejoicing. I have to confess, I am not sure I would be rejoicing. More directly, I know that I have not rejoiced, and it is not like I have been flogged or imprisoned for preaching. I am coming to the conclusion that I whine far too much about things that matter far too little. At the same time I fail to thank God for the things in my life that God is doing with and through me.

The key to the rejoicing of the apostles was their feelings of worthiness. They rejoiced because they say their persecution as something God determined them to be worthy of. They made a connection between being obedient and being persecuted. I expect when I am obedient that God will count me worthy of peace and keep me from persecution. However, if Acts is true, and I think it is, then we should see persecution not as something to be avoided, but as a sign of God counting us worthy of persecution.

A closing confession, I am not at this point yet. It is going to take some work to get to that point.

Thursday, January 24, 2008


A hallmark component of being a Christ Follower can often be overshadowed by the cross. The redemptive work of Christ on the cross is beyond importance, however the event that happened three days later is equally, dare I say possibly more important than the cross. If the resurrection does not happen, Jesus is just another religious fanatic or possibly worse. When the resurrection happens, Jesus is truly seen as the Messiah. The resurrection conquers death.

The interesting thing about resurrection, for it to take place something or someone must die. In Jesus case he intentionally chose to die, that we might have life. If we are going to experience resurrection in our lives, in our families, in our churches, in our journey with God, we must choose to die. We must give up what we perceive we have a right to. This is no small or easy task, but without death there cannot be resurrection.

I am not talking about the physical death of a person, I don't mean the death of the church, what needs to die is our unholy ambition. What needs to die is our willfulness. I am flooded with scriptures that tells us what the Lord requires of us, and the condition of our hearts. At the core of all these scriptures is us as humans, submitting a broken, God fearing, and repenting heart.

Maybe you are looking for resurrection. Are you willing to die to all things human, and submit to all that God requires.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Cry of My Heart

This is not a new song, but the song and the slideshow are great. My the words of the song be our prayer.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

But I Don't Want To

Today as I read Genesis 39-41 and Luke 16 I was overwhelmed with one thought, I don't want to. At the outset I was not sure if that was God teaching me something, or how I was feeling about my day. As I probed deeper in the Scriptures and my own heart I found that God was teaching me something. All too often I find God putting opportunities in my path that I do not always see as opportunities, they are seen more as a distraction at best. It is very interesting to me how much I am driven to live life on my terms. How determined I am that things will work out the way I want them to. Enter Joseph. I am sure his life was not on the course he thought it would be. Sold into slavery by his brothers, falsely accused of raping Potiphar's wife, and sitting in prison for years. When he was a young boy dreaming God's dreams, literally, they painted a much different picture than what he was living. Not once do we have record of Joe complaining about the fairness of the situation. We don't find Joe grumbling that he doesn't want to do this or that. At every turn we find a man of God who seems resigned to live life on God's terms, not his. If that meant making the most of being betrayed by family, being falsely accused, if than meant being forgotten about in prison by someone you helped.

I find in my life there are things I need to do that I do not want to do. There are changes in my life I really don't want to make. What this means in my life is that it is time to dust off that Doctoral application and get to work. How about your life? What does it mean in your life to live on God's terms? What is it you know God is calling you to, but you have been putting off because you don't want to?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

What Are We Looking For?

Today I was reading one of my all-time treasured scriptures, Luke 15. I cannot even begin to think of the number of times I have read this chapter. However today I thought about what it is that we are looking for. What is it that we spend out time and energy searching for? Wealth? Security? Souls to save? These musings have caused me to ask, What am I looking for. I guess the answer at the outset is, to see people, myself included, have an ever-deepening, passionate, transforming relationship with God. The lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost sons, yes both of them, are of great value. However, their earthly value is converted into spiritual currency when Jesus puts the lost becoming found in an appropriate context. Repentance is at the heart of what Jesus teaches here, and repentance is not merely changing a few things. It is transforming our whole being to be more like that of the Image of God which is a part of us. It is about taking an ordinary life, a life that we might take for granted, and turns it into an ever-deepening, passionate, transforming life, founded on a relationship with the Father, through the Son, empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

And They Were Afraid

I have been reading through the Gospel of Luke the past couple of days and today a real interesting insight hit me. When the people witnessed the miraculous works of Jesus their response was to be afraid. I am willing to chalk it up to a faulty understanding on my part, but I expect people to experience joy, astonishment, wonder, awe, anything by to be afraid. I have had the awesome privilege and honor to see the supernatural power of God at work, and my response was not to be afraid, rather it be excited about the work of God. My very different response makes me wonder if I am missing something in my interaction with Jesus. Even the disciples were afraid when Jesus did great works. Could it possibly be that I have become too familiar with religions Jesus that I am missing the raw and dangerous Jesus. The Jesus who upon acting causes people to be afraid.

Now, I guess an attempt could be made to rationalize the issue away, to say that our English translation is letting us down. Another possibility could be that emotions were understood differently in Jesus day. In the end what I think it comes down to is that the works of Jesus should cause us to be afraid, but not to fear. To fear is to be uncertain of the outcome, to wonder if I am going to be well. Fear is what the disciples felt in Luke 8 when the storm came upon them and Luke writes, they were in real danger. Being afraid is what their response was when Jesus wakes up and calms the seas with his words. When we are afraid it more of a sense that we cannot make sense of what we have just, or are experiencing. In our day and age we have become too good at definition and explanation, and the result is we are not often enough afraid of what is happening in our life. We like to think we can define it into comfort, what a huge mistake.

Monday, January 7, 2008

An Invisible War

The church today in many cases has fallen into a dangerous trap. That trap is having a healthy understanding that God, and the Spirit of God, are not the only forces at work in out world. God has a great enemy, Satan, and that enemy is out to cancel, or discredit the work and people of God. Those who are following after Christ need to realize that Satan is real, and not simply a passive entity. Now we must realize that we cannot blame all the problems, struggles and ills of our live and world on Satan. There are consequences to human choices. However, we have to understand that Satan uses those human consequences to exploit the work of God. If we are to pay attention to the fullness of God, we must be aware that Satan is looking to take us down. We must also remember the words of Christ in John 10:10 " The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy, but I have come that you may have life and have it more abundantly." When we allow the work of Satan to go on unchallenged in our lives, we allow the thief to get into our lives, we forfeit the abundant life God longs for us to have.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Jesus or Religious People

As I read Luke 5 today, I was struck by the way that the religious people of the day were the ones who provided the biggest challenge to Jesus. Now this is not a new insight. However, it caused a long held fear to resurface, what am I doing that is making the work and ministry of Christ more challenging for him. Later in Luke 5 were are reminded of the often found paradox, John fasted and the religious people wondered why, Jesus and the disciples feasted and the religious people wondered why. In fact in both cases the people did more than wonder, some got angry and condemned. When we begin to get into religious nit-picking, we manage to attack all sides of an issue, leaving no acceptable way. Not once to you find Jesus engaged in religious nit-picking, not once do you find Jesus using many words to debate the religious people. Jesus simply uses his actions. The nit-picking leads to death by rules and human-driven boundaries, Jesus leads to life and God-given freedom. May we choose freedom.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

A Fruitless Life?

"Prove by the way you live that you have really turned from your sins and turned to God. Don't just say, 'We are safe -- we are the decedents of Abraham.' That proves nothing. God can change these stones into children of Abraham. Even now the ax of God's judgement is poised. ready to sever your roots. Yes every tree that does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire." Luke 3:8-9

This is an excerpt of John the Baptist's preaching. Not exactly a feel good message, but important enough to be included in the Scriptures. It seems that it is an age old battle, those who are identified with God, struggle to live their identity. The people in Noah's time had that difficult and perished in the flood. It seems that the words of Genesis 8 are true that humans will always struggle with sin. John the Baptist points out that sin, and the result of that sin, a fruitless life. It was painful to even write that, a fruitless life, I don't think anyone sets out to live a fruitless life, however, that is what often happens.

This means that our goal, and drive should be not to simply claim identity with God through Jesus Christ, but life a life of fruit that shows that connection. We are to live a life that our actions lead our witness and our words are secondary.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

This Is So Not About You

I have been reading a book lately called, "A Beautiful Fight" by Gary Thomas. He talked about getting nervous before speaking, and hearing God say, "this is so not about you". I think we would all do well to hear these words in all that we do. Our lives are filled with many roles that we play and we want to be successful at all of them. This drive for success may cause us to think that our work is about what we can accomplish, or making ourselves look great. Then there is the reminder, this is so not about you. God has uniquely designed and created every person to be jut who they are, but that does not mean that we can do what ever we want to. Each of us has a responsibility to our creator. That responsibility is to remember who gives us our uniqueness, to remember who it is that did the creating, who it is that designs us. We are never to lose sight of our uniqueness, yet we are to always hold fast to the fact that our uniqueness is a gift given to us for the glory of God, not the development of an individual. The celebration of our uniqueness ends when it hurts the community of God, the church, or replaces God as the lead in our life. This thing called life, is so not about us.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

In The Beginning

Appropriate words for January 1st. It is the beginning of a new year. A fresh start. A time when people make resolutions that are often short-lived. This year as I begin the year I am struck by the number of new beginnings in the Bible. It seemed that we are not the first people to make a verbal commitment that we could not sustain. Today I was looking at Genesis 1-2 and Luke 1 specifically. There are many remarkable things in these passages from scripture, however, one stood out to me today, the presence of the Holy Spirit. Genesis uses the term the Spirit of God, and God is captured in the term "we". While in Luke the term Holy Spirit is used. No matter the term used in your translation, or even the Greek and Hebrew, the fact remains that the Holy Spirit is the driving force behind new beginnings. We may try with all our human might to change and start again, and if we leave it at a human effort we will fall short. Additionally it is not simply a matter of asking God to bless what we are trying to do. It is not about trying to infuse the Holy Spirit into our actions. Rather we should be starting new by following what God is calling us to, by walking the journey path the Holy Spirit is leading us down. In Genesis the world we now live in was created, all be it a little more perfect, and in Luke the door to our redemption was flung open, not by the work of humans, but by the Spirit of God.