Last #likeJesus

What kinds of things do we argue about?  Politics?  Money?  Sports?  When we argue, we reveal our heart.  Our principles, priorities and passions are uncovered.

“On the way, an argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest.”

Here in Matthew 18, Mark 9 and Luke 9, we find Jesus instructing his disciples on greatness in the Kingdom of Heaven.

What did the disciples’ argument reveal about their hearts?

Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.”

What were the disciples after?  Prominence, position and power!  Their arguments revealed hearts filled with pride.  While these are all things that this world values, Jesus “turns the tables” on them, flips the script, and again shows that he plays by a different set of rules in His Kingdom.  His is an “upside down” Kingdom.

The first is last, and the last is first.

The greatest is least, and the least is greatest.

Your stature, your greatness, is not determined by the size of your entourage, by those who serve you and cater to your needs and wants.

Your greatness instead is determined by how many you serve and how well you serve them.  That’s upside down, topsy-turvy thinking!

Pride (self-love) will cause me to seek the applause of others.  It will cause me to “use” people to get what I want, to have relationships that serve my own self-interests.

Humility (God-love) and sacrifice (others-love) will lead me to put others ahead of myself and serve based on how it benefits others, not myself.

When it comes to serving, do we argue about who HAS to (not me, please, make someone else do it)…

or do we argue about who GETS to (please let me do that)?

I like to be served.  Do I like serving others even more, or do I view serving as a burden or inconvenience?  I have lots of room to grow here.
To learn more about Walking As Jesus Walked and Discipling As Jesus Discipled, visit:  SONLIFE.COM

Hard Truth #likeJesus

Am I willing to hear difficult truth from others?  How do I respond when I’m called out for not thinking or acting #likeJesus?

It’s hard to imagine a more stinging rebuke for a Christ-follower than being called SATAN…  by Jesus himself!

Peter’s just made the bold declaration, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Jesus replies, “Blessed are you, Simon don of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.  And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.  I will give you (Peter) the keys of the kingdom of heaven….”

Wow!  Jesus blesses Peter.  He tells him he’s received revelation from the Father.  He hands him the keys to the kingdom.

Is that like a dad tossing the car keys to their teenager?  Imagine the excitement, the privilege, the responsibility.

From this height of honor, Peter falls hard back down to earth.

After hearing Jesus say that he must go to Jerusalem and die, Peter says, “Never Lord!  This shall never happen to you!”

At this point, Peter gets called out.  He gets called “Satan.”  What could possibly provoke this?

“You are a stumbling block to me.”

How could Peter be a stumbling block?  The cross would exact the greatest act of obedience from Jesus.  The cross would not be easy.  Jesus prayed as much in the Garden. “If it’s possible, remove this cup from me.”  Jesus did what no human would choose to do because his Father asked him, even sent him, to do it.

“You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”

Jesus rebuked Peter for putting his own desires and plans ahead of God’s desires and plans.

So I have to ask myself, how often could I or should I be rebuked as a “Satan?”  How often do I put my desires and plans ahead of God’s, potentially derailing the redemptive work that God wants to do through me to draw others to Himself?

I want friends who feel the freedom to call me out for my stupidity, selfishness and shortsightedness, just like Jesus did with Peter.  Will you be that friend for me?  Can I be that friend for you?


To learn more about Walking As Jesus Walked and Discipling As Jesus Discipled, visit:  SONLIFE.COM

Re-Purpose #likeJesus

In the midst of living out our own story, sometimes it is difficult to see how God is weaving together every piece, every thread, every scrap to form a tapestry that reflects His glory.

In the telling of the Feeding of the 5000, which is recorded in all 4 Gospels (Matthew 14, Mark 6, Luke 9, John 6), there is a simple statement that Jesus makes that arrested my attention and captured my heart.

Only John records Jesus’ 4 simple words.  Jesus takes five loaves of bread and two fish, a boy’s lunch, and prays over it.  What was meant to feed one boy multiplies, and the disciples participate in a miracle.  They watch as their baskets overflow with food so that all 5000 men, plus women and children, are fed until they are satisfied.

Matthew, Mark and Luke all record that the disciples collect all the remaining food, enough to fill 12 baskets.

Only John records Jesus’ instructions.

“Gather the pieces that are left over.  Let nothing be wasted.”

“Let nothing be wasted.”  4 simple words.  But I can’t help but think that this is what Jesus says about my life.  Let nothing be wasted…

Not a moment.

Not a hurt.

Not a failure.

Not a trial.

Not a tragedy.

Not an inconvenience.

Not an offense.

Not a tear.

Nothing!  Let nothing be wasted.  Our Father can use it.  He will use it.  He will re-purpose it.  He will fashion a masterpiece in our life out of it.  He will bring Himself glory from it.

Father, thank you for being the kind of loving God who finds beauty in my mess and glory in my weakness.


To learn more about Walking As Jesus Walked and Discipling As Jesus Discipled, visit:  SONLIFE.COM

Let’s Go #likeJesus

“Let us go to the other side.”

Jesus stood on the shores of Galilee in Capernaum, pointed across the lake to the region of the Gadarenes, and told his disciples that’s where they had to go.

You could forgive them if they were reluctant that night.  Jesus wasn’t.  He got in the boat and quickly fell asleep.

The “other side” was only about 3 miles across the top corner of Galilee, but it took these professional fisherman all night to travel 3 miles.

A fierce storm slowed them down.  Fearing for their lives, they woke Jesus.  He rebuked the wind and spoke to the waves, “Quiet!  Be still!”  The storm stopped.

The word “rebuke” is used in a spiritual context.  So what could be “spiritual” about this storm?

Over in the Gadarenes was a demoniac, a crazy man who lived in the tombs, cut himself with sharp rocks, howled through the night and broke any chains people tried to bind him with.  The demons who possessed him were called Legion, which is the term for a garrison of 8,000 soldiers.

Could these demons of hell, maybe as many as 8,000 of them, have been responsible for the storm?  Did they want to prevent Jesus from reaching the other side?

But even still, all night to travel 3 miles?   In my mind, I imagine the disciples paddling their boat in circles, saying to one another, “I’m not going over there.  Do you want to go over their?”

They could hear the screams.  They knew who, or what, was waiting for them.  In the middle of the lake, they could have come up with any number of legitimate excuses for not doing what Jesus asked.

“That’s a Gentile region.  Jews aren’t supposed to associate with Gentiles.”

“There are tombs over there. Jews aren’t supposed to come in contact with dead things.”

“There are herds of pigs over there.  Jews aren’t supposed to eat or even touch those unclean animals.”

The excuses could go on and on…  but Jesus said to go to the other side!  Even just for this one man, go to the other side.  He is the mission tonight.  He must be reached.  He must be set free.  He will become a walking, talking testimony of the power of God.  For him, we cannot not go!

What are my “legitimate excuses” for not doing what Jesus has asked?  What amazing opportunities do I miss as I “reason away” the boat ride to the other side?


To learn more about Walking As Jesus Walked and Discipling As Jesus Discipled, visit:  SONLIFE.COM

Judging #likeJesus

Who’s in and who’s out?  That’s the stark contrast Jesus paints with many of his parables on the kingdom of heaven.

In his Parable of the Wheat and the Weeds, Jesus speaks of the Enemy sowing seeds of weeds among the wheat.  After the servants ask their master if they should pull out the weeds, they are told, “No, because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them.  Let both grow together until the harvest.  At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.”   Matthew 13:31-35

Jesus echoes this parable with another in Matthew 13 about a net that catches both good fish and bad.

It’s a sobering reminder that the church is filled with weeds, with people we might initially think are Christians, but in reality they’ve never placed their faith in Christ.   The fruit of their life shows they’ve bought into a dead religion based on the trap of good works or rule-keeping.

What a terrifying thought to know that many who fill our churches will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

Who’s out and who’s in?  Who are we to judge if someone else is out or in?
The fruit of grace is a transformed life.  So if someone “looks like a weed” then I’m going to pray for them and speak to them as if they are, extending God’s grace every chance I get.   That’s not judging.  That’s loving!


To learn more about Walking As Jesus Walked and Discipling As Jesus Discipled, visit:  SONLIFE.COM

Doubt-free #likeJesus

Where does doubt come from?

When John the Baptist was imprisoned, awaiting execution, he sent two of his disciples to Jesus to ask Him a simple question.

“Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?”

Imprisoned, expecting to die, John has a moment of doubt.  “Jesus, are you really the one?”  Maybe in the cold, dark prison cell, weighed down by his shackles, John had many moments of doubt.

What are the cold, clouded, weighed down moments that have brought me face to face with the darkness of doubt?

John was Jesus’ second cousin.  Couldn’t Jesus do something for him?  After all, He’d healed many, even raised the dead, and brought freedom from demonic strongholds.  Surely He could bust John out of his prison!

But still, how could John doubt?  He was there to witness the Spirit descending upon Jesus and the Father audibly voicing His approval.  How can you doubt when you hear the Voice of Heaven say “this is My Son.”

How can you doubt when you’ve preached and baptized and have a following in the thousands?  How can you doubt when you know God has called you and sent you to “prepare the way for the coming of the Lord?”  How can you doubt after confidently telling others, “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world?”

How can you doubt when you hear all the reports of the miracles, signs and wonders, even while in prison?

Jesus responds to John’s doubt.  “Go back and tell John what you have seen and heard:  The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.”

Here Jesus echoes the Messianic prophecy from Isaiah 61 about the ministry the Father has given him.  This is his gentle way of reminding John, “I am the one. You know I’m the one. Stop doubting.”

This is Jesus’ reminder to “never doubt in the darkness what God has revealed to you in the light.”

Interestingly, the portion of Isaiah’s prophecy that Jesus leaves out is, “He has sent me to… proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.”

Don’t doubt who I am or what I can do, even when I let you remain in the darkness, when I let you remain in pain, or when I let you continue to struggle.  My priority isn’t your comfort or happiness, but rather that your life brings My Father the greatest glory possible.


To learn more about Walking As Jesus Walked and Discipling As Jesus Discipled, visit:  SONLIFE.COM

Worry-free #likeJesus

Where does worry come from?

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life….”  Matthew 6:25

After Jesus speaks of how God cares for the birds of the air as an example,  he makes this statement:  “Are you not much more valuable than they?”

So where does worry come from?  It’s an identity issue.  We underestimate our value.  If we only knew how much our Father treasured us, how precious we were to him, we would scoff at worry.  When we value something, truly value it, we take care of it.  We protect it.  We maintain it, even seek to improve it, to “accessorize” it.

So the question I have to ask is, “Just how valuable to God am I?”

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this (how much He values us), while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8.

In other words, even at the point we were of least value, God prized us beyond compare.

Our value isn’t based on who we are, what we’ve done, or what we’ve produced.  Our value is based on Who made us and the price He would willingly pay to buy us back (redeem us).  The Father paid the highest price He could.  He paid with the life of His Son!

So if He would give His own Son for us, why would we ever sweat the small stuff.  And here’s a hint:  to Him, it’s all small stuff 🙂

So armed with this confidence, let’s “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness.”


To learn more about Walking As Jesus Walked and Discipling As Jesus Discipled, visit:  SONLIFE.COM

Can We Really Be #like Jesus?

Have you ever found yourself thinking, “I could never be like Jesus!  After all, He’s God…  and I’m not!”  Well, let’s take a closer look at Him.

100% God, 100% man.  At the same time.  What a mystery.  How could God be 100% man, “made like us in every way,” as the writer of Hebrews puts it?

For many years, I read the Gospels and believed Jesus could heal, perform miracles, walk on water, know what men were thinking and amaze with his teaching precisely because he was God.  I worshipped him for that.  But where does that leave the “100% man” part?

Philippians 2 tells us that though Jesus was “in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped (clung to0).”

Instead, he “made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.”

So Jesus, being God, did not cling to his “equality” with God (the Father).  He willingly submitted to the limitations you and I experience as humans without ever ceasing to be fully God. (Hard for our minds to fully comprehend that reality)

This is evident when reading about Jesus healing the paralytic whose friends dug a hole in the roof and lowered him down in front of Jesus (Matthew 9, Mark 2, Luke 5).

In Luke’s account, he records. “And the power of the Lord was present for him (Jesus) to heal the sick.”  Interesting.  Here Luke separates Jesus the man from “the power of the Lord.”  Jesus is the Lord, so what is Luke referring to?  He must be speaking of the Holy Spirit.  We see this one chapter earlier in Luke 4:1,14,18 where it says Jesus wa full of the Spirit, led by the Spirit, comes in the power of the Holy Spirit, is anointed by the Spirit, and is sent by the Spirit to proclaim Good News.

So here in Luke 5, Jesus heals the paralyzed man when the Holy Spirit empowers Him to do it.

In this same passage, we read that knew “in his spirit” what the Pharisees were thinking.  I’d always read that and assumed, well of course he did.  As God, Jesus is omniscient, all-knowing.  Of course he could “read people’s minds.”

But let’s look at it from the perspective of Jesus, as a man, accepting the limitations of being human.  Could he not have known because the Holy Spirit revealed it to him?  It does say he knew “in his spirit.”  Or maybe more plainly, couldn’t he have known from his own cultural context what the Pharisees would be thinking about his words and actions?  After all, how many times have we said to someone else, “I know what you’re thinking…”

Isn’t it interesting to note that Jesus’ disciples also knew what the Pharisees were thinking.  They wrote it down in the Gospels.  It doesn’t appear that Jesus spelled it out.  But they knew too.  It was their culture.

Jesus’ dependence on the Holy Spirit to live as he lived, teach as he taught and minister as he ministered is a great encouragement to me.  The same Holy Spirit now lives in me, fills me, empowers me, leads me, sends me and transforms me. He makes it possible for me to be like Jesus!


To learn more about Walking As Jesus Walked and Discipling As Jesus Discipled, visit:  SONLIFE.COM

Thinking #likeJesus

Whose opinion really matters the most to me?

In Matthew 5 and Luke 6, we read Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.  This comes right after Jesus selects the Twelve to be Apostles, so the content of his Sermon is a foundational piece to his training and preparation for them.

Again and again in his Sermon, Jesus says, “You have heard that it was said…”  He then follows with, “But I tell you…”  This is how others tell you you should live, but I want to introduce you to a whole new way of living!

He speaks this way about murder, reconciliation, adultery, divorce, taking oaths, revenge and loving enemies.

The wisdom of this world, the experiences and expertise of those with cred, the not so subtle messages from the media machine…  they all seek to shape us into their image.

Am I being “conformed” or “transformed?”  It all comes back to this.  Whose opinion matters most to me?

If I want to “walk as Jesus walked” then I need to listen to Jesus above all others.  I must learn to think like Jesus (as believers we do have the mind of Christ), so I can walk and talk like Jesus…  be Jesus with skin on in the world he’s placed me.


To learn more about Walking As Jesus Walked and Discipling As Jesus Discipled, visit:  SONLIFE.COM

Journey to Be #likeJesus

I began a journey in 2016.  A hunger to dive even deeper into the life of Jesus, a quest to discover what it truly means to live, love, lead, serve, speak, sacrifice, pray, prioritize and preach #likeJesus.  I committed to read through the Gospels every month this year. I’m taking a different Harmony of the Gospels, particularly those that weave the four gospels into a single narrative, and reading through each one over the course of a month.  Each day, I journal insights on what God is showing me about being #likeJesus.

I thought you might appreciate a brief description of the Harmonies I’ve read so far.

The Greatest Story by Johnston Cheney & Stanley Ellison  (JAN 2016)

Originally titled Life of Christ in Stereo, The Greatest Story represents the primary scholarship of Johnston Cheney, a layman who taught himself greek and spent the last twenty-plus years of his life compiling this work.  Stanley Ellisen, a professor of Biblical Literature from Western Seminary, lent his scholarship and helped to get the original work published.  One of Cheney’s unique arguments is that Jesus’ public ministry was a minimum of 4 years, not 3.  There are many things I appreciate about The Greatest Story, with both the translation and the blending of the four gospels making it very readable as a single narrative.

Jesus, In His Own Words  by Robert Mounce  (FEB 2016)

Robert Mounce offers a unique translation in Jesus, In His Own Words.  Everywhere the gospel writers, speaking of Jesus, say that “He said this” or “He did that,” Mounce translates it in the first person as if Jesus is telling His own story.  Robert Mounce is no slouch when it comes to his credentials to offer such a work, being the president emeritus of Whitworth University, a noted commentary author, and a translator of the New International Version, New Living Translation and English Standard Version.  From what I can tell, Mounce incorporates everything contained in the four gospels with the exception of Luke’s prologue (Luke 1:1-4) about writing an orderly account for Theophilus, since this is Luke’s own insertion and doesn’t fit the theme of Jesus, In His Own Words.

The Gospels Interwoven by Kermit Zarley  (MAR 2016)

Unlike others on this list, Kermit Zarley, a former professional golfer,  did not translate and harmonize The Gospels Interwoven directly from the Greek.  Instead, Zarley has taken the New International Version translation and woven it together into a single narrative.  To achieve his chronology, he took 13 different harmonies and laid them side by side to study the order in which they laid out the events of the life of Christ.  He leans toward the structure from Strong’s Harmony of the Gospels, which closely mirrors the timeline from Thomas and Gundry’s Harmony of the Gospels.  Having grown up with the NIV, the wording of The Gospels Interwoven  is very familiar and easily readable.  Harley has also included a helpful, extensive section that covers all the potential conflicts in harmonizing the gospels.  A very helpful tool!

One Perfect Life by John MacArthur  (APR 2016)

John MacArthur is a pastor, Bible teacher and author who has compiled a strong harmony. Having recently concluded his commentaries on all four gospels, MacArthur decided to compile  a single narrative Harmony  of the Gospels based on the chronological timeline he’s long used in his commentaries.  His translation closely mirrors the New American Standard Version, making it a little stiffer and less modern in its phrasing.  However, the inclusion of his commentary notes is very helpful and his chronology is solid.  I particularly found it refreshing that he began with a pre-gospel section where he wove together Old Testament scriptures regarding Creation, Fall, the Passover Lamb and Promises of the Coming Messiah.  Then he concluded with a post-gospel section with scriptures gathered from Acts, the Epistles and Revelation that emphasized the significance of the Death and Resurrection of Christ, the Return of Christ, Salvation by Grace through Faith and the need to Respond to the Gospel.

The Merged Gospels by Gary Crossland  (MAY 2016)

Gary Crossland has translated his harmonized gospel, The Merged Gospels, directly from the Greek and laid it out in a section by section, sentence by sentence format.  The layout has the feel of a workbook.  It’s wonderful for study and for seeing how each sentence and section was harmonized from the four gospels, but this makes it less readable as a story format.  One added benefit to Crossland’s work on The Merged Gospels is that it is also available in audio format.

NOTE:  One section of the harmonies that I use to compare each author’s work is how they treat the Call of the Four that we read in Matthew 4 and Mark 1.  Do they harmonize these together with Luke 5, or do they treat Luke 5 as a separate event where Jesus tells Peter a second time that he will fish for men.  I believe Matthew 4 and Mark 1 are a separate event from Luke 5.  Cheney, Mounce and MacArthur also harmonize the gospels this way, while Crossland and Zarley view the two accounts as different viewpoints of the same event.

The Jesus Story compiled by Bill Perkins

Bill Perkins has taken the classic, Life of Christ in Stereo by Johnston Cheney and Stanley Ellisen, and compiled it in a format that reads like a novel.  It’s in a nice hard-bound cover and laid out without scripture references or subject headings.  The seven sections of the book are Preparation for Ministry, The First Year of Ministry, The Second Year of Ministry, The Third Year of Ministry, The Fourth Year of Ministry, The Last Week of Ministry, and Crucifixion, Resurrection & Ascension.  It’s simple, meant to be read as a story, without the distractions or interruptions of scripture references or added commentary.

Other Harmonies that I will read later this year include:  The Harmony of the Gospels by St. Augustine of Hippo;  A Life Worth Knowing:  A Chronological Harmony of the Four Gospels by David Barrett; A Harmony of the Four Gospels: The New International Version by Orville Daniel; A Simplified Harmony of the Gospels by George Knight; The Fourfold Gospel by J.W. McGarvey; Eyewitness: The Life of Christ Told in One Story by Frank Ball.  I’ll provide a brief description of these Harmonies later in the year.

For study purposes, all of Sonlife Ministries’ training is based off Thomas’ and Gundry’s A Harmony of the Gospelswhich is a parallel version of the four Gospels, laid out in chronological order side by side.  Thomas’ and Gundry’s work also includes scholarly articles that provide an overview of various forms of biblical criticism and answers to the apparent challenges with harmonizing the gospels.