Forcefully Advancing #likeJesus

Much anticipated events garner great attention.  When a new Apple product is released, the build up is months long.  Tech writers speculate about the product…  what it will look like, what its features will be, how it will revolutionize the way we live.  Then there’s the much anticipated reveal.  Steve Jobs was the master of this, walking on the stage in his black turtleneck to pull back the curtain on the iPhone, iPad, iWhatever.  And then came the release date.  Thousands upon thousands of people around the world line up outside Apple Stores, camping out even, to be the first to get their hands on the precious new product.  I love Apple products, but some people are fanatics when it comes to Apple.  Camping out in a line to be among the first to see, touch and try a new product. Insane.

Jesus was about to enter Jerusalem.  The build up for His arrival in Jerusalem for Passover week was not unlike an Apple product launch.  Talk about months and months of build up…  the miracles He’d been doing, like the feeding of the 5000 or 4000, and especially raising Lazarus from the dead, had everyone in and around Jerusalem anxious for Jesus’ arrival.

Eyewitness records, “Many who had come to Jerusalem for Passover heard that Jesus was coming.  Those who had been with Jesus at the raising of Lazarus from the dead had spread the word about what they had seen.  Some went out to meet Jesus because they had heard about the miracle.  A huge crowd gathered along the road and spread their garments before Him.  Others cut palm branches to lay a carpet in His path.”

What a scene!

And then there is the response of the Pharisees.

“Look!  The whole world is following Him, and there is nothing we can do about it.”

This reminds me of Jesus’ words to Peter and the other disciples in Caesarea Philippi.

“Upon this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not be able to stop it.”

This reminds me of Jesus’ words to His disciples about John the Baptist.

“The kingdom of God is forcefully advancing!”

I look at the Pharisees’ words and I want to step into the line with the others along the road coming down from the Mount of Olives.  I want to be a part of the movement.

I’m usually not a crowd follower, but I am a Christ follower.

And I want the crowd to follow Christ.  I want the throngs to clamor to Him, to cheer Him and enthusiastically follow.

I want to be a part of the reality of these words coming true in this generation.

“Look!  The whole world is following Him, and there is nothing we can do about it.”

I want to be a part of His unstoppable force.

I want to be a part of forcefully advancing His kingdom.

I want to be a part of striking down the gates of hell with the sledgehammer of the gospel to rescue the perishing.

I’m ALL IN!

 

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

Urge Them #likeJesus

“Then go into the country lanes and shaded hedge rows.  Urge people to come.  I want my house to be full.”  Luke 14:24

What kind of intensity and intentionality comes through when I share the gospel?  What would motivate me to “urge people to come?”

Urge people to come.  Heaven is glorious.

Urge people to come.  Hell is horrible.

Urge people to come.  Time is short.

Urge people to come.  Love conquers all.

Urge people to come.  Purpose is discovered.

Urge people to come.  Grace is amazing.

Urge people to come.  Jesus is the answer.

Urge people to come.  That My house may be full.

God wants His house to be full.  And by that, I think He means more that merely a packed Sunday morning worship service.  As a friend says, if you want a packed house, light poodles on fire and juggle them.   It’s got to be about more than seating capacity.

God is inviting.  Wooing. Drawing.

He wants a family.  He adopts us as His own.  He is making a home.

When does a house become a home?  Fill it with strangers, it’s just a room.  Fill it with family, with love, with acceptance, with purpose, and it becomes a home.

What makes a church house a church home?  Fill it with family, with love, with acceptance, with purpose, and it becomes a home.

That’s something worth inviting, even urging, others to be a part of!

 

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

Being Present #likeJesus

“On the way to Jerusalem, Jesus passed through the towns and villages, teaching as He went.”  Luke 13:22

How did Jesus determine whom to minister to, when to minister, and how to minister?

Jesus was intentional.  Or maybe a better way of looking at it is, Jesus was obedient.  He did what the Father showed Him to do.  Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit, so whom He ministered to and when and how He ministered was at the Spirit’s direction.

Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem.  He had a purpose for being there.  Yet on the journey, He was not so focused on where He was going that He lost sight of where He was or who was around Him.

Jesus lived in the present.  The places He went “through” and the people He “passed by” were not overlooked because He had “more important places to go and people to see.”

Jesus noticed.

Jesus noticed people.

Jesus notices me!

Jesus didn’t just go “through” a place.  He was present “in” that place.  Why?  Because…

It’s all important.

It all matters to Him.

I sit on a lot of planes.  I go to a lot of places. What a great reminder from Jesus’ example to be fully present, not just “where I’m going,” but even “as I am going.”

“Therefore, as you are going, make disciples of all nations!”

 

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

Persistent Faith #likeJesus

When it comes to prayer, how strong, healthy and well developed am I?

Jesus prayed, not just to set us an example, but because it’s what people who love God, who are hungry for God, will naturally do.

I can read the Bible because I’m hungry for knowledge.  I want to know about God.

But when I pray, not formulaic ritualistic prayers, but honest, impassioned conversations, it reveals a heart that longs to know God intimately.

Am I an intimate of His?

Could it be that prayer is God’s love language?

In Luke 18, Jesus was teaching His disciples about prayer.   In Eyewitness, this teaching follows Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.  Could it have been this experience that prompted Jesus’ teaching?

“To illustrate their need to always pray and never give up, Jesus told a story…”  Luke 18:1

Always pray and never give up!

Never?  What if I’m praying for someone and they die?  What if they’ve been dead for a day or two?  What if they’ve been dead four days, embalmed, and already buried?

That gives new meaning to “never give up!”

What’s impossible for God though?  Nothing!

There might be plenty of things that seem dead and buried.  A dream.  A relationship.  An opportunity.

Always pray and never give up!

When Jesus had heard that His friend Lazarus was sick, He said, “The purpose of His sickness is not to cause his death but to bring God glory.”

If Jesus has spoken in my life, do I believe Him?  If I do, then I will pray and never give up.

The story Jesus told to illustrate our need to always pray and never give up was about a woman who pestered a judge until he heard her case.  He concludes the story with this.

“But when the Son of Man comes, will He find such persistent faith on the earth?”

Does the way I pray reveal a persistent faith?  Do I pray like I believe God is my Father…  a good, good Father…  who loves it when I come to talk to Him about anything and everything?

Father…  Abba…  Papa, can we talk?

 

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

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