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Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

Increase and Decrease

August 20, 2018 2 comments

Somewhere along the way I quit trying to build an audience.

Oh, I used to try all the tricks.  I commented on other’s blogs.  I tried to guest-post on certain blogs.  I would wake up at 4:30 so that I could write blogposts, read and post.  I really wanted my blog to blow up.

Then I gave out.  I was worn out.  It exhausted me.

I wonder if that’s what happened to John the Baptist.

He was called by God to tell Israel to repent because the kingdom of God was at hand.

John drew a big crowd.  People repented.  He baptized a lot of people.

Then he was done.

Jesus came along.  People began following him.  He made some comments about a political figure’s lifestyle and he was imprisoned.

His attitude throughout that?

I must decrease.  He must increase.

His time was over.  Sure, he wondered a bit in prison, but he pretty much knew that he had done his job.

I wonder if that’s why Christians get tired, worn out and burned out.

We try to do a whole lot of stuff that really should be up to Jesus.

We try to win people with our own skills and rhetoric instead of the word and Holy Spirit.

We try to work at everything.  We try to become the big fish in a little pond.  We can go on and on.

We try to increase ourselves, our ministries, our work, our blogs.

What if we really tried to find our lane and our niche.  What if God wants you to help park cars at church?  What if God never wants you to be an upper level manager?

What if?

What if he increased and we decreased?

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His Adventure

July 30, 2018 1 comment

One of the coolest things I see in the Bible is when people immediately follow Jesus or the Holy Spirit.

Jesus is walking by the sea and Peter, James and John drop their nets and follow Him.

Phillip is sent down to talk to the Ethiopia eunuch and tells him about the Gospel.

Paul and Barnabas head out on a missionary journey after the church prays and fasts seeking the Lord’s will.

It’s equally disheartening when people get ahead of God in what He’s got in store. That’s how Moses ended up killing an Egyptian and spending 40 years out in the desert.

For the past several years, I’ve had the privilege to spend my Sunday mornings at a campground sharing the Gospel and Jesus with folks. I’ve built fantastic relationships and wonderful friendships.

At some point, almost all good things come to an end.

Life happens. Circumstances have happened that keeps me from giving my all to this ministry as I have in the past.

The interesting thing is that I’ve felt the Lord leading me to the end of this for a while. Maybe I should have moved along sooner.

Regardless, He has made it abundantly clear that now is the time to stop.

I’m no longer doing this ministry that I have been doing for the past 15 years or so.

I could be sad. Sure, there is a tinge of that.

But for the first time in a few weeks I feel like I’m truly following the Lord’s lead. I’ve dropped my nets. I’m moving in the direction He’s sending me.

Where that is? No idea.

But it’s a new adventure. His adventure.

Categories: Christianity, Faith Tags: , , ,

Awkward

July 18, 2018 3 comments

I saw him as he was pumping gas.  My heart sank a bit.  I didn’t really want to talk to him.

He finished pumping his gas and started walking in to pay.  “Why didn’t he just pay at the pump so I don’t have to talk to him?”, I thought to myself.

That’s not a good attitude.  I quickly recovered and decided to greet him warmly.

“Hey, ________, how are you?”, I said.

I got something like a dismissive grunt back.  Schwew.  It wasn’t just awkward for me.

I used to know him fairly well.  I even remember one of that last real one-on-one conversations I had with him.  I ran into him about 40 miles from our houses.  He told me about his changing beliefs, some of which I consider bedrock items of the faith.  He told me about a preacher he liked who I think is a heretic.

Not long ago, before the gas pumping incident,  I had a chance to listen to him talk. Not a real conversation.  More like listening to him talk about all the things he likes, things I found a hard time lining up with the faith we (once?) shared.

I don’t know if he has shipwrecked his faith.  I worry much more about shipwrecking my own. I don’t know if he believes.  Maybe he always believed differently. I can’t really judge his heart.

I just know that the encounter was awkward.  Awkward listening to him talk.  Awkward running into him.

And I wonder how Jesus would have me overcome the awkwardness.

Categories: Christianity Tags: , ,

3 Keys To Following Jesus In The World

September 19, 2016 1 comment

There are reams and reams of paper used to write books on how Christians to live lives that follow Jesus. Rarely, though, is there anything that as simple as what we actually find in the Bible. Paul gave us three good pieces of advice in 1 Thessalonians that too few of us actually heed. 

1. Live Quiet Lives

One could probably write an entire post about this. In today’s world filled with social media, it is easy to live a noisy life clamoring for attention. Few of us are immune to this. Many of us need to take this piece to heart and spend some time that is focused outwardly, putting the spotlight on others. Give others credit and point toward the Lord instead of ourselves.

 2. Mind Your Own Business

What would happen if we took this one to heart? Instead of getting involved in every controversy, what if we truly focused on making our own lives better? What would the world look like?

 

3. Work

When I was a kid, I worked on farms located around me during the summer. I hauled hay and worked in tobacco. When I turned 16, I went to work in a grocery store and had another part-time job watering plants at my church during a dry summer. Plus, I still had to mow the yard and do chores around the house. God expects us to work. He does not expect us to live entitled lives. One time my dad’s job went on strike. He used that time to work around the place and even thought about finding work to do that would bring in income.

 Why should we do these things? What benefit is there to them?

 So that we “may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on on one.” These are three keys to living the kind of life that God ordains for us. Instead of looking for some magic bullet, let’s do what God’s word tells us to do.

Categories: Christianity, Faith Tags: ,

Superman, Ali and Jesus

June 6, 2016 1 comment

Most of us are aware at this point that Muhammad Ali passed away a few days ago.  There has rarely been as controversial figure in recent history.  Whether you loved or hated him for his braggadocio, his conversion to Islam or his refusal to serve in the military during the Vietnam War, it is difficult to recall anyone who was more of a lightning rod for controversy.

I loved Ali as a kid.  I didn’t really watch boxing as a young child, but I would see him on Candid Camera and get excited any time he was on.  This caused some conflict with my Vietnam serving father.  Despite, and perhaps because of, my dad’s strong feelings I continued to like Ali, maybe just to spite him.  That’s another story and the subject of another day.

The bottom line is that, for a time, Muhammad Ali was the most famous person on the planet, accomplishing the rare feat of the being the most loved and the most hated man alive.  He even fought Superman.

DC Comics published an over-sized comic entitled Superman vs Muhammad Ali.  In order to defend Earth against an alien invasion, Superman and Ali fought.  Superman temporarily gave up his powers and Ali won the fight.  The plot isn’t really all that important.  What’s important is that Ali was so famous that he fought Superman.  The closest thing most people could compare it to would be Michael Jordan being in Space Jam.

I’ve seen a lot of opinions on Ali since his passing.  Some were in tribute.  Many vilified.  There was no middle ground.

I tweeted that what Ali did in life, ultimately, wasn’t important.  What was important was whether he knew Jesus.  What would Jesus have said to Ali if He had met him?

I think I know the answer.  Or answers.  They would have all been variations of the same one.

The kingdom of God is at hand.  Repent and believe in the gospel.

It’s the same for me.  It’s the same for you.  It’s the same for everyone.

Ali may have floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee, but if he had followed Jesus, he wouldn’t have felt the sting of death.

It’s easy to make strong, bold statements about someone like Ali.  It’s easy to call him a draft dodger or a great humanitarian.  But in Christ, there is neither draft dodger, nor humanitarian.

Someone responded to my tweet that Ali was a professed Muslim.  This is true.  Unfortunately, there will be plenty of professed Baptists dying in the same state as Ali, not knowing Christ.  Plenty of whatever brand of Christianity we are part of will do the same.

My plea to you is to not die without knowing Christ today.  We who follow Him can do all sorts of things to make this Christianity thing complex.  It’s really simple.

The kingdom of God is at hand.  Repent and believe in the gospel.

 

What A Well Pleased Life Looks Like

In a few short weeks, I will begin leading my annual services at a local campground.  I have been doing this since 2002, so this will make the fifteenth consecutive year that I have been doing this at this particular campground.

I spent about four years preaching and teaching through the gospel of John.  Since then I have been weaving my way through Paul’s letters.  I knew that I needed to do something different and I am returning to the gospels.  This year, and probably for a few summers, I will be making my way through Mark’s gospel.

One of the things that jumps out at you in the first chapter is Jesus’ baptism.  Like John, we all probably scratch our heads a bit at Jesus being baptized.  After all, if anyone didn’t need to be baptized, it’s Jesus.

That isn’t what stood out to me, though, this time.  No, it’s what the Father said to Jesus when He came out of the water.  He said, “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well pleased.”

That statement astounds me.

First, it was personal.  The Father said that Jesus was His beloved Son.  He didn’t just say you are a beloved Son.  No, the Father was a proud papa.  Think about when you see your own children do something that makes you proud.  You can hardly contain yourself.  This is that kind of moment for the Father.

Second, the Father was well pleased in Jesus.  Often when we tell our children they have pleased us, we tag a but on the end of it.  “You did great, but….you could have done better.”  None of that with Jesus.  The Father is simply please with Him.

Here’s the cool thing.  Because of what Jesus did on the cross, the Father has the same reaction when he sees those of us who have trusted Christ for salvation.

We are now joint heirs with Jesus.  We are God’s beloved children.  He is proud of us because when He looks upon us, we are covered by the blood of Jesus.

The Father is well pleased in us.  Just like Jesus.  No buts.  Just please.

What difference does that make?

We have the same inheritance as the One who died on the cross.

We live the same God pleasing life because of Christ’s sacrifice.

Those two thoughts should directly affect how we live our lives.  The heirs of royalty live differently that those who don’t.  When you please someone, your actions are different from when you don’t.

Jesus lived a life and died on the cross so that we can have the same benefits that He has with the Father.  Let’s start living like who we really already are and not like people who will get there some day.

Categories: Christianity, Faith Tags: , ,

What Is Your Greatest Treasure?

February 18, 2016 1 comment

I’ll start today with that simple question.  What is your greatest treasure?

It could be anything.  It could be your family.  Your spouse.  Your children or all family as a whole.

It could be your job.  You do great in your career and, above everything else, you pursue it with all of your heart.

Maybe it’s your sports team.  You live, breathe and die a particular team.  Perhaps it’s whatever sport is in season.

It could be some possession.  Anything you own.  Your house.  Your car.

The thing about it is that all of these are wrong.  At least they are if you and I share the same faith.

The Bible is clear that Jesus should be our greatest treasure.  He is our pearl of great price.  He is the treasure we find in a field and sell everything so we can buy the field.

The problem is that few of us get this right.  We fall short of truly making Jesus our treasure.

How do we make this happen?  How do we make Jesus our greatest treasure?

We have to spend time with Him.  We have to spend to become so intimate with Him that we are enthralled with Him.  It’s much like when we first met our spouse.  We wanted nothing more than to spend time with them.  We thought about them all the time.  We might have written love letters to them.  We couldn’t wait to talk to them on the phone.  We might even give up a meal so we could spend time with them.

Let’s do what we can to pursue Christ in such a way in our lives that He truly is our greatest treasure.

Categories: Christianity, Faith Tags: ,