Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
This semester at "The Porch," we are going to be digging into these hard sayings of Jesus while taking an honest look at what it means to be His disciple. Our "theme" for the Spring is "We Do Hard Things." Will you join us in this journey towards obedience?
Saturday, January 02, 2010
"...this is exactly what I see: a lot of people who have added Jesus to their lives. People who have, in a sense, asked Him to join THEM on their journey, to follow THEM wherever THEY feel THEY should go, rather than following Him as we are commanded. The God of the universe is not something we can just add to our lives and keep in as we did before." ("Forgotten God," Francis Chan, p. 122)
"What if you could hear the voice of the Holy Spirit and He asked you to literally give EVERYTHING you owned? What if He asked you to sell ALL your possessions and give the money to the poor? Could you do it? Before you start explaining why He would never ask that of you, take a moment and answer the question honestly. It's not out of His character to ask for everything." ("Forgotten God," Francis Chan, p. 126)
In a recent ongoing dialogue with an old childhood friend, we've been chewing on the state of the Western Church, and perhaps this hits close to what we've talked about. Feel free to let the discussion begin!
Thursday, December 31, 2009
I've never been a fan of New Year's Resolutions. Why be more focused on change this time of year than any other? But, more and more, I'm understanding that EVERY day should be one of resolute change. As a matter of fact, I am resolving to be a person of resolute change every day in 2010, and would challenge you to join me.
Simply put, "resolute" means, "firm in purpose or belief." And "change" means, "the action of making something different." What I'm resolving to do is firmly and purposefully act to make something different and more like Jesus. Yesterday I was reading a devotional thought by Oswald Chambers. He references John 6:66, which follows one of Jesus' hard sayings. In response to what Jesus told them, we read, "From that time many of His disciples went back, and walked no more with Him." There are many times in our lives when we are faced with an idea or thought from Jesus that seems hard, or isn't what we want. In response, we just kinda ignore it, or decide we will deal with it some other way so that we can continue unchanged. In essence, our lack of change shows that we've decided not to follow Jesus on this point. Oswald Chambers speaks to this, saying, "if you do not walk in the light of that vision, you will sink into servitude to a point of view which Our Lord never had. Disobedience in mind to the heavenly vision will make you a slave to points of view that are alien to Jesus Christ." The bottom line is each time we disagree with Jesus about a point in our life, we are adopting someone else's view point and giving it priority over Jesus' viewpoint. Whether it's in the area of entertainment, business practice, or some other area of our lives, each departure further removes us from the mind of Christ until we ultimately reach the point of doing what we want and only asking God to bless it (or just hoping He doesn't find out!).
Will you join me in this one resolute change: when Jesus speaks to an area of my life, I resolve to quickly and forever align myself with His will? That, I think, is a resolution worth keeping EVERY DAY, and not just in January of 2010.
Saturday, December 26, 2009
I tend to read this passage and find encouragement for my life in the Holy Spirit's role/connection for me. I enjoy phrases like "Do not let your hearts be troubled," and "You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it." They remind me of the intimate connection we have to Father because of Son by indwelling of Spirit. And rightfully so. Jesus Himself says that He is telling us these things "so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete."
Have you ever read these chapters as prophecy, though? Look at the progression of events in these chapters. Jesus will be gone for a short time and then return. He will send the Holy Spirit when He leaves for good. The disciples will have questions now, but then all things will be clear. Greater things will be done by them. They will be scattered for a time. They will be hated by the world, yet overcome it. Their grief will turn to joy. They will be put out of the Synagogue. In a passage where most find comfort, Jesus in a very detailed way outlines the rest of their lives for them!
And, just as He said, they are with Him, dessert Him, have their grief turned to joy, walk with Him a bit longer, receive the Holy Spirit, and never doubt again. They turn the world upside down, and in spite of being martyred, they have peace in this world. They heal the lame and blind, raise the dead, speak in languages they've never learned, and are noted as ordinary guys who are changing the world because they had been with Jesus. These three chapters of John so closely parallel the Book of Acts that I am amazed more people don't teach on this! We turn to these chapters for comfort. But do we turn to them for prophecy and to see if our lives are "lining out" like people who truly have received His Spirit?
As Jesus wraps up this prophetic/encouraging discussion with His friends, He says, "Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete." What did the Disciples end up asking for? That their lives be used up for Him, His kingdom, and His glory. And that's what He did with them, and they received a joy that was complete. A joy so complete that Paul and Silas could sing as they are beat nearly to death (Acts 16).