I Am Sure #likeJesus

“Of this one thing I am sure.  I used to be blind.  Now I can see!”

The formerly blind man, healed by Jesus, speaks to the Jewish leaders with conviction.  Certainty.

Of this one thing I am sure!

He’d experienced a miracle.  Jesus spit on the ground, made mud, wiped it on his eyes, and told him to go wash the mud (and his blindness) away.

He didn’t even see who healed him.  By the time he returned, able to see, Jesus had slipped away.

When confronted by the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law about who had healed him on the Sabbath, he ended up defending a man he had never seen.

Yet though he’d never seen Jesus, he knew He was real.  He’d heard His voice.  He’d felt His touch.  He’d experienced His power.  His life was forever changed!

“I used to be blind.  Now I can see.”

After the man is kicked out of the synagogue for defending Jesus and standing up the the Jewish leaders, Jesus finds him again.

He doesn’t recognize Jesus by sight.  He’s never seen Him before.  But he’s confident it is Jesus.  He knows His voice.

Of this one thing I am sure.

What is that for me?

Like the blind man, I believe in One I have yet to see.  Oh, but one day I will see Him.  And like the blind man, I want my experience of Him to be so real, so personal, that I too recognize His voice.

Of this one thing I am sure.  I am loved!

Of this one thing I am sure.  I am forgiven!

Of this one thing I am sure.  I am accepted!

Of this one thing I am sure.  I am alive in Christ!

Of this one thing I am sure.  I am His child!

Of this one thing I am sure.  I am heaven bound!

Of this one thing I am sure.  I am made new!

Of this one thing I am sure.  I am more than a conqueror!

Of this one thing I am sure.  I am His ambassador!

Of this one thing I am sure.  I am blessed beyond measure!

Well, that was ten things.  I wanted to think of one thing I am sure of, but I just couldn’t stop with one.

“Of this one thing I am sure.”

What’s your one thing?    …I’m not asking rhetorically 🙂

 

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

Prompted #likeJesus

“And how do I know who my neighbors are?”

This question can be a daunting, even haunting one…  when you’re reading it in Haiti!

“You must love God with your whole heart, with all your being and all your strength.  And you must love your neighbor as yourself.”

And just how do I know who my neighbors are?  It’s easy for me to read Jesus’ story and look with disdain on the priest and the Levite for passing by…  when I’m sitting in the comforts of my home…  and the needs are mostly theoretical.

But when I’m in Haiti, the question from this teacher of the Law becomes much more real for me.

I’m surrounded by poverty, hunger, sickness, oppression, need.  Everywhere I look, it stares back at me.  And most people look to me as an answer to their need.

We educate and feed over 500 children here in the village.  We treat over 1000 patients a month at our medical center.  We care for 50 orphans at our children’s home.  All that and more.

But I still ask, “And who is my neighbor?”

I ask it when someone asked me this week to help them fix the tire on their bike.

I ask it when someone asked me this week to help them pay their school fees.

I ask it when someone asked me this week to help them with the cost of their wedding.

I don’t imagine that I’ll ever stop asking.  It’s a complex issue.  What are my cultural biases?  How do I view poverty?  How do I view needs?

But it can also be simple.  Walk in the Spirit.  Listen to His promptings.  Do what He asks?  When the Spirit open your eyes to see a need, it’s time to act.  It’s this simple.

See a need.

Meet a need.

That’s what the Good Samaritan did.

 

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

To Not Forget #likeJesus

With five small loaves of bread and two small fish, Jesus fed 5000.

With seven small loaves of bread and a few fish, Jesus fed 4000.

At the beginning of His ministry, after being baptized by John, Jesus went into the desert to fast and pray.  Satan came to tempt Him three times in the desert.  And what was the first temptation?  “Turn these stones into bread.”  How did Jesus respond?  “Man does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

When Jesus taught His disciples from the Mount, He said, “Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear.  Is not life more important than food…  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them…  Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

After feeding the 5000, Jesus told them He was the Bread of Life and if they received Him they would have eternal life.

Just a few months later, Jesus fed the 4000.  Afterwards, He and His disciples got in a boat to go to the other side of the lake.  The disciples forgot to bring bread.  They thought Jesus was upset with them.

How comical, ridiculous even.  The disciples were worried about having enough bread.  Jesus could turn stones into bread.  He could multiply loaves and fishes so that basketfuls of bread were left over.

Having enough bread was the furthest thing from Jesus’ mind.  Jesus wanted the disciples to “hunger and thirst for righteousness, that they might be filled.”

The disciples saw…  and then forgot.

How often do I see and then forget?

God is faithful.  God is good.  God is loving.  God is gracious.  God provides.  Again and again, He proves Himself.  This is who God is.  This is His nature.

I want to see…  and not forget.

I want to see…  and trust completely.

I want to see…  and be grateful and giving.

I want to see…  and seek first His kingdom and His righteousness.

You’re a good, good Father.  That’s who you are.  Help me to see!

 

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

Satisfying Hunger #likeJesus

Do we seek after God for God Himself, or for what God can do for us?

After Jesus fed the 5000, the crowds flocked to Him.  In John 6, we read Jesus’ words for the crowds.

“The truth is, you were not searching for me because of the miracles but because I filled your stomachs with bread.  Do not work for food that spoils.  Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you.  God the Father has sent me for this purpose.”

Context helps immensely.  Reading these words in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, helps me to see Jesus’ words with fresh insight.

Hunger is a real problem in Haiti.  Open your eyes and you will see physical needs everywhere you look.  These needs bring people to our ministry here.  Open Door Haiti has a school, feeding program, orphanage, medical clinic…  all there to meet people’s tangible needs.

The needs bring people to our ministry, but they don’t necessarily bring them to God.

I’ve noticed this troubling trend over the past several years here.  While all our programs grow- feeding and educating more kids, caring for more orphans, and treating more and more sick people- our church here does not grow proportionately.  People who come to “fill their bellies” might not be seeking for God.

When the Catholic Church comes into the village with better programs, they go there.  When a humanitarian organization comes into the village with better programs, they go there.  Now, for the first time in my 15 years of coming to Haiti, a Muslim mosque has been built nearby.  If they offer better programs, people will go there.

How do you help hungry people to feel a different depth of hunger?  How do you help people to see their desperate need for God?

They must see something they don’t yet have.  It must be so real to them that they want it, hunger for it, crave it.

What do I have “in Christ” that others would see, sense, hunger for?

Love.  Forgiveness.  Peace.  Joy.  Purpose.  Strength.  Confidence.  Hope. 

Are these so much of a reality in my life, in how I live, in how I respond, in how I relate to others, that they see the reality of the dynamic presence of the living Christ in me…  and hunger for Him!

Here in Haiti, Father, my prayer is that the reality of Christ will be so demonstrable at Open Door that people will hunger even more for You than for mere food to fill their stomachs.

 

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

Loving More #likeJesus

Am I worthy of being Jesus’ disciple?

“If you love your father, mother, son, or daughter more than you love me, you are not worthy of being my disciple.  Unless you are willing to sacrifice your own life and do what I ask, you are not worthy of being my disciple.  If you try to save your life, you will lose it.  But if you lose your life for my sake, you will discover real life.”

Jesus was preparing His disciples.  He was going to send the Twelve out two by two to minister in the towns and villages.  His instructions were very specific.  His expectations were clear.  The commitment required was high.

I love my wife.  A lot!

I love my girls.  A lot!

I love my family, my parents, my in-laws, my siblings, my wife’s siblings…

Can I say I love Jesus more?  Can I say I love Jesus more than my own life?

I can say it, but mere words are empty, meaningless, if I don’t show it.

So how do I show I love Jesus more than my wife, children, family, even my own life?

The 5 Love Languages are a simple way to look at my love for Jesus.

1.  TIME – Do I make Jesus a priority in my day?  Do I spend time with Him?  Am I in the Word?

2.  TALK – Do I make prayer a priority in my day?  Do I talk with God, not just as a matter of routine, but as a matter of relationship?

3.  TOUCH – Do I make the Body of Christ, His church, a priority.  When I rub shoulders with other believers in fellowship and meet others’ needs, I demonstrate my love for Him.

4.  TREASURE – Do I demonstrate that Jesus is a priority in the way I share the talents and treasures God has given me?  Am I generous?  Do I view what I have as mine, or as God’s?

5.  SERVICE – Do I put others’ needs ahead of my own?  Am I selfless?  Whenever I “feed the hungry, clothe the naked, embrace the orphaned” I do that for Jesus and demonstrate my love for Him.

Jesus actually keeps it pretty simple.  I demonstrate my love for Him when I obey His commands and when I love others.

Every day.  Every single day.  I need to ask myself, to remind myself, what it means to love Jesus.

I want my heart to yearn for, to ache for His presence.

“As a deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.  My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.  When can I go and meet with God.”  Psalm 42:1-2

“How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty!  My soul yearns, even faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God!”  Psalm 84:1-2

 

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

Rejected #likeJesus

This passage has perplexed many people through the years.   What do you think Jesus meant?

In Matthew 12 and Mark 3, Jesus says,

“Understand this:  all kinds of sin and evil speaking may be forgiven, but speaking evil of the Holy Spirit cannot be forgiven.  You may speak against the Son of Man and be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.  Not now.  Not ever.”

The Unpardonable Sin

Many times I’ve had a worried believer ask me if they’d committed the unpardonable sin and now were going to hell.

My “evangelical bias” is to interpret this passage by telling them that the only unforgivable sin is to reject the Holy Spirit when He tries to convict you of sin and draw you to the Savior.  This is a sin of the unbeliever, not the believer.

But where do I get that interpretation from Jesus’ words here?  Is my theological bias being inserted into the passage?

The Pharisees are saying that Jesus has an evil spirit and that’s how He can say the things He says and do the things He does.  They are attributing the work of God to Satan.  This is what prompts Jesus to speak of the “unpardonable sin.”

The Pharisees were rejecting Jesus.  Attributing the miracles Jesus did to Satan makes their rejection abundantly clear!

The miracles Jesus performed were used by God to prove to the people that He was the Messiah and to prompt them to put their faith in Him for salvation.

The Pharisees rejected Jesus’ proof and the Spirit’s prompting.  Their hearts were hardened.   They couldn’t receive forgiveness.

You can’t forgive a sinner who refuses to acknowledge their sin and doesn’t think Jesus has the authority to absolve sin.  A sick person who refuses to believe they’re sick and thus refuses to go to the hospital can’t be healed by a doctor.  They remain sick because of their own ignorance, stubbornness and neglect.

That’s my “evangelical bias” on the unpardonable sin.  What’s yours?

 

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