Thursday, October 29, 2020
Wednesday, October 28, 2020
Questions are an important part of having a conversation.
This particular question is a common one. It would be reasonable to assume that if God wanted everyone to know Him that He would make it easy for people to find Him.
- The nation of Israel in Exodus. These people had experience slavery at the hands of the Egyptians. They witnessed God deliver them from slavery through the use of ten plagues, the parting of the Red Sea, and the miraculous provision of guidance and food through the wilderness. They saw how God revealed Himself to the entire nation at Mount Sinai. Moses went up the mountain, and when he doesn't return (forty days and forty nights) the people got antsy. They gather some gold together and made a golden calf to worship. In their worship they proclaimed this is the god who led them out of Egypt (Exodus 19 -32).
- Jesus' disciples. These men heard Jesus teach, witnessed his miracles, and saw him over a 40 day stretch after his resurrection. As Jesus prepared to ascend into heaven he took these followers to a mountain in Galilee. Matthew 28:17 saws; "When they saw him, they worshiped him--but some of them still doubted!" (NLT)
It is amazing that Israel doubted God and disciples doubted Jesus after all they experienced. We tend to think if we were in their place and were able to witness miracles and see the risen Lord face to face that we would not doubt. I am not certain that would be the case.
These examples show us that a faith built on the evidence miracles is not a sustainable faith. Time has a way of eroding our experiences. Given enough time even the most awesome miracles would loose their impressiveness.
Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.”So God created human beings in his own image.In the image of God he created them;male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:26-27; NLT)
God created human beings in His image. To be created in God's image means that we are designed to be His representatives in this world, to demonstrate His character. In other words we are to be walking, talking, and breathing revelations of God. The world should know God because of His people.
This is why Jesus told his disciples:
“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” (John 13:34-35; NLT)
The world will know that God exists through the lives of His people. May we be the evidence people need.
Tuesday, October 27, 2020
Monday, October 26, 2020
Sunday, October 25, 2020
Saturday, October 24, 2020
Friday, October 23, 2020
Recently I was scrolling through Twitter and saw that one of the people I follow retweeted the following:
Jesus’ disciples then said to him, “If this is the case, it is better not to marry!”
“Not everyone can accept this statement,” Jesus said. “Only those whom God helps. Some are born as eunuchs, some have been made eunuchs by others, and some choose not to marry for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.” (Matthew 19:10-12; NLT)
This does not sound like Jesus endorsed the advice to "get married soon" and "find a career." Rather, it seems like Jesus wants us to evaluate our lives and commit to a path that allows us to follow him.
The path of singleness is a good but difficult life. Being single frees us from responsibilities that keep us from focusing solely on God's Kingdom and growing in holiness. It also creates the difficulty of being single in a world where couples and romance are celebrated and idolized.
Being single is not easy, but it opens up the possibility of following Jesus at a deeper level than being married offers.
It is crucial that we do not offer up marriage as the perfect ideal for following Jesus. When we do we are in danger of turning marriage into an idol and making those who are single into second class citizens.
Our marital status is not an indication of our discipleship.
Our discipleship depends on our faithfulness to Jesus. May we continue to encourage one another, married and single, to remain faithful to him.
Thursday, September 3, 2020
One of the most common experience of this is the desire to live life on our terms and the desire to follow Jesus. It would be nice if the two were the same, but they are not. The one desire is about maintaining control in our lives while the other desire is about surrendering that control to God.
The fact that we carry around these opposing desires doesn’t mean that we want to live some evil lifestyle. It does mean that we don’t trust God to do what is best.
John Eldredge in Walking with God writes about these two desires:
“I want two things that are mutually opposed—I want to live a nice little life, and I want to play an important role in God’s kingdom. And it’s in those times that I am trying to live a nice little life that I make decisions and choices that cause me in small and subtle ways to live outside of Jesus. The Shepherd is headed one direction, and I am headed another. Not to some flagrant sin—that’s too easy to recognize. Instead, I’m simply wandering off looking for the pasture I deem best.” (pp. 89-90)
I don’t want to speak for you, but I know this summarizes my life.
On the one hand I want the life I want to live: a nice life that is safe and comfortable. On the other hand I want to be part of what God is doing in this world: a life of faith that takes me out of my comfort zone.
My flesh always pulls me towards the life I want, which I believe is the life of my dreams.
What is frustrating, and I would bet that you have been there too, is that the life of my dreams never really becomes a reality. It always seems to remain just out of reach. And if by chance we have a few moments when we think we have achieved it, it doesn’t seem to be everything that we had hoped it would be. It feels unsatisfying to us.
As long as we live here on earth we will be pulled in these two directions. We are either going to use our time and energy to create the life we think will make us happy, or we will sacrifice our desires to devote our lives to following Jesus and discovering the life he created for us.
I want you to think about what the apostle Paul wrote to the Colossians:
So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better. (Colossians 1:9-10; NLT)We need to God's will and to have spiritual wisdom if we are going to live a life that honors Jesus.
To receive this knowledge we need to pray. Notice that this is part of Paul's regular prayer for the Colossians. We al need to spend time in the Bible. The Bible is God's word to us: it contains the wisdom and truth that He wants us to know.
Remember, it isn’t enough just to know and understand God’s will.
The key is to be obedient to God’s will. The way God’s will makes a difference in our lives is when we adjust our lives to it.
If we aren’t willing to obey God, then knowing His will doesn’t make one bit of difference in our lives. This requires that we make a commitment to do God’s will, no matter what the cost will be or where His will takes us.
Our desires to have a nice little life and to live the life God created us to live are mutually opposed (though I should add that when the first is our goal we will never achieve it, but when the second is our goal we will have a life that is so much better than what we had dreamed), and if we are going to follow Jesus we will have to lay down our dreams and desires in order to pick up His desires for our lives.
The life we really want, true life, isn’t found in what we can create for ourselves. It is found in the life God created us to live.
Seek out God’s will for your life, and then live out His will. That is how we truly live life.
Wednesday, September 2, 2020
It is the disciplined person who is able to come through in the clutch and does not allow the pressure of the moment to rattle him/her from accomplishing what needs to be done.
It was the discipline of shooting thousands of baskets that enabled basketball legend Larry Bird to be such a great clutch performer. Without the hours of intense practice Bird would never have been able to hit as many last second shots as he did. It wasn’t about having good intentions, but it was about training his body to respond in a certain way, and that is what made it possible for him to be so great.
We understand the importance of discipline in the arenas of sports and music, but often we neglect it when it comes to living a life of faith.
Somehow we have told ourselves that what matters are our good intentions, and if we are willing to follow Jesus then that is good enough. The problem is that when the chips are down and life is stacked against us we often fail. We can’t come through in the clutch because we have not trained our bodies to respond in the right way.
Let’s face it; many of us are undisciplined.
I would guarantee that if we examined the lives of people who are considered to have a mature faith one thing they all would have in common is discipline. Granted they may not call it discipline, but they would have certain activities that they were devoted to doing which expressed their commitment to Christ Jesus.
A verse that has come to mean a lot to me the past few years is Acts 2:42. In this verse Luke shares with us four activities that the earlier church devoted themselves to doing.
And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. (ESV)As the Church exploded on to the scene the Apostles made sure that the new Believers were involved in activities that would encourage these new disciples and would help them mature in their faith.
Being disciplined is essential if we are going to be mature disciples of Christ.
Consider what the apostle Paul wrote about who he lived his life:
Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. (1 Corinthians 9:24-27; ESV)
Paul compared his walk with Christ to an athlete preparing to compete in the games. The athlete is disciplined in his/her practice so they are able to perform to the best of their ability and when the prize.
According to Paul, the athlete is an illustration for how we are to live our lives: we are to discipline our bodies and learn to control them.
Maturing in faith isn’t just a matter of knowing more or having the proper intentions. Rather, it is about training our bodies to respond to the good desires of our new hearts. We are to discipline our bodies so we can respond in love when others respond in hate, so we can respond with joy for another person’s success rather than being jealous, or so we can give generously rather than greedily horde what we have.
If we are going to live like Jesus, then we need to discipline our bodies to respond to the new heart He has given us.
Erwin McManus in his little book Stand Against the Wind wrote:
There is a process in our becoming all that God created us to be. This is the human side of divine change. Transformation is both the miracle of God and the stewardship of man. Godliness is a result of both divine activity and human action. God promises to do what we cannot do for ourselves, and He commands us to do that which He will not do for us. There is both miracle and responsibility. God entrusts us with His resources, and then He holds us accountable for what we do with them.” (p. 46)Foundational to what I am saying is that our transformation and salvation are miracles of God.
We cannot achieve true transformation, a total change of heart, without the initiative and action of God. That is where it all starts, and so I am not advocating some form of humanism here, but rather I want to point out that we have a responsibility to nurture and grow this wonderful gift that God has given to us.
To be disciplined means to be good stewards of the miracle of salvation God has done for us.
What disciplines do we need in our lives in order to be good stewards of the new life we have in Christ Jesus?
I think a good place to start, because it comes right out of the Bible, are the four activities of Acts 2:42.
I want to point out that the third activity, the breaking of bread, means the Lord’s Supper. This is a debatable issue, but in my study I have come to believe that is what it the phrase means in this context. One of the reasons I want to emphasis this is because it is important for us to have a way to re-commit our lives to God’s Kingdom after we have stumbled and sinned.
If we are going to mature as disciples of Christ Jesus then it is essential that we have in our lives certain disciplines that help teach our bodies to live by faith.
This is why one of the marks of mature Christians is their commitment to certain activities that help them stay connected to Christ. If we are to follow their example then we need to have similar activities as a part of our lives.
Isn’t it about time that we live a disciplined life?
Tuesday, September 1, 2020
Ever since the tragedy of Charlottesville there has been something that has bothered me.
My great concern is not the presence of Neo-Nazis, but the acceptance of aggressive violence as the means to silence other people.
Most of you know that I am a libertarian. Contrary to what most people believe, libertarians are not “fiscally conservative and socially liberal”. As far as my personal preferences go I am fiscally conservative and socially conservative, because I believe that is the best way to live.
Libertarianism isn’t about finding a middle ground between Democrats and Republicans, but about the proper use of violence. As the great libertarian thinker Walter Block states:
"Libertarianism is solely a political philosophy. It asks one and only one question: Under what conditions is the use of violence justified? And it gives one and only one answer: Violence can be used only in response, or in reaction to, a prior violation of private property rights."
Not only am I a libertarian, but more importantly, I am a follower of Jesus Christ.
For me the idea of non-aggression is not some nice idea, but fundamental to who I am. It is a key part to both my political philosophy and my religious belief. God's kingdom is not enlarged nor is liberty expanded through violent aggression.
Know this: if you advocate punching Nazis or Communists or White Supremacists simply because of their beliefs, you are living in opposition to the way of Jesus and you are an enemy to liberty.
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