“God is not here to make us happy! God will not settle for just happy. He wants to go beyond happy, deeper, wider, more! God want to make you HOLY!” -Duffy. After hearing this I started thinking about Jesus, who is He in my life. I want to know not what my mind thinks but what my actions say about who He is, because it is your actions that tell the true story of your faith. Do I live in a way that says I put my faith in a “nice”, “kind”,”caring”,”loving” Jesus and that is it? Or do I live in a way that says yeah my Jesus loves, but he is also a fierce conquer that has overcome the world, a Holy, Holy, Holy God that hates sin and wants to remove it from the lives of His children, a power Lion of Judah that nothing can stand before Him. Taking a thought from “Jesus Centered Youth Ministry” if you had to go into a dark alley filled with thugs would you pick Mr. Rogers to go with you? NO! Yet this is the picture we paint for our family, coworkers and friends. A weak Jesus, no wonder the next generation is looking for other gods in sex, drugs, alcohol, fun, sports, etc. This weak Jesus cannot help or satisfy them. Solution? Make a point to teach and live a life that says we believe in the complete Jesus of the Bible. Spend time finding out who Jesus REALLY is.
I am reading Crazy Love by Francis Chan. In this book he asked the question,” If you could go to a place that was perfect, beautiful, everyone was perfect, no sin, no hatred, completely perfect; the only thing is Jesus was not there, would you be ok with that?” I struggled with this question, I am a pastor, the answer should be with no doubts, NO! However, I want to be honest, so I can see myself the way God sees me. So, after thinking about it, the answer I had to give was YES, I would be ok with it. Then Francis went on to say that if you answered yes you don’t really love God. WOW, wait, I do love God! I mean I am a preacher, a youth pastor, I talk to Him, I read His word, I tell others about Him. But… Do I desire the person of Jesus? No. Not the way I desire my wife. I remember back when we were dating, you can ask anyone who knew us, I followed her like a little puppy dog. Even today I can’t stand being away from her. I would do anything to be with her, I want her, I need her. I didn’t feel the way about God. That completely broke me. Francis went on to write, it is ok, all you have to do is realize this and ask God to change it. So I went to the church sanctuary and for the next thirty minutes I cried out to God, for Him to change me. I got up and felt no different. Later that night, the church leaders met and we shared our hearts with one another. I shared this about myself. We prayed and once again I asked God to change me, still no real change. I went home and shared this with my wife; then, later as I was laying down to go to sleep I read a couple of Psalms. I saw, for myself, how much David loved his God, the closeness. I told God I wanted that, then I went to sleep. When I woke up this morning, all I could think about is God. I have a feeling about Him I have never had before. I have never felt so close to Him, so in love with Him, so crazy about Him. I know, we know in our heads that God’s Word is true, but when we get to experience it, it is so much more wonderful. God’s promise of “Ask and it will be given to you, Seek and you will find” is so true. Ask yourself and be honest, do you really love God? If not He will change you, if you just ask!
As I think about Jesus and the life that he lived while he was on earth, it confounds me. I like to think that I am not SO worldly, I am willing and have sacrificed things for Jesus and His kingdom work. However, I am amazed and shamed by the truly selfless and humble life that Jesus lived. I am not commanded to do the best I can, I am told to imitate the perfect, sinless Son of God. I stay worried about providing for my family, paying the bills, yet Jesus owned nothing. He was an impoverished vagabond, a drifter, certainly not a middle class, suburbanite. I know I am commanded by God to take care of my family and to provide for them, a man who does not is truly worthless, but having said that I have to be willing to do what He has asked of me and let him take care of me. THAT IS SO HARD! Growing up as a southern country boy, I was taught socially you have to provide for yourself, there are no free hand outs, your on your own in this world. In some respects there is a lot of truth there, there are no free hand outs, everything cost someone something, you do have to take steps to provide for yourself and family. However, we are not alone, God said His children will never have to beg bread. He will take care of them just as He does all the rest of His creation. I read a passage of scripture the other day that stayed with me. I have never been a person who believes in “distribution of wealth” (and from a government stand point I never will) but I read 2 Corinthians 8:12-15. This a clear statement that God has in mind a “distribution of wealth” system for His church. He make some “have’s” so they can give to the “have not’s” so that the faithful members of His church will be equal. He finishes up by saying “He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little had no lack.” God makes some people have more than they need not to have toys or retirement but to give it away. At the same time others are made to be in want just so that the one that has more than he needs can give to them. God sets this up, no social status is by chance. Everything God does is awesome and has a purpose.
Back to the vagabond thing. Jesus was God! He could have made himself very rich and powerful and still lived a perfect life and atoned for our sins. We saw Him take a little bread and multiply it to feed thousands, we saw Him make gold appear in a fish’s mouth. Even Satan himself testified to Jesus’ power when he told Jesus that he knew that Jesus could turn a stone to bread. Jesus created the worlds by His very breath, yet he lived in poverty during His earthly ministry! Why? I think there are several different reasons he did this, but the number one reason, I think, was He did this is to prove the depth of His love for YOU! He had lived in the infinite wealth of God. He knew the splendor of Heaven and of riches that we cannot even imagine. He knows everything, however he had never lived in poverty, so I believe he lived this life so that He could then inspire the author of Hebrews to write “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb 4:14-16). He did this to make a connection with the people He is insanely in Love with, YOU. He wanted you to know that not only is He a Holy, Just, and Loving God, but he is a God who wants you to know He knows what your going through. He wants you to know that He wants to, not just save you, but have an intimate connection, an intimate relationship, with you. He is willing to go ten thousand extra miles to prove it to you. That would be pretty awesome if He was just a person but this is the All-Powerful, All-Knowing God. That makes this type of love totally insane. Thank you God!! With this in mind, it stands to reason that our small vapor of a life is a reasonable sacrifice on our part in thanks for what He is and has done for us.
I am reading the book Radical and it is forcing me to take a step back and look at every aspect of my life. Is my ministry Holy Spirit driven or is it chris driven? Am I doing what I was redeemed to do? Do I truly believe there is enough power in the Word of God alone to change this next generation? Am I willing, ready to pay any price for the one who bore the wrath of God in my place? These are the questions I am answering in my own life. Some of the answers are not what they should be, but that is why God gives us these moments, so that we can realize it is all about him and we can let him change us. I am working on having a radical devotion to Jesus. One like the apostles had, a devotion that can take a person, like me, who is not good at anything, one who has no extraordinary talents, and shine HIS glory to the world.
This is one thing that has hit me the hardest, that it has nothing to do with me, even my salvation was not about me, it was about him. He saved me to show HIS glory, and so he could then use me to show HIS glory to others. It is not, God loves you so much he did all this to save you, but rather it is God loves you and he did all this so he could use you not just save you. You see salvation is just a doorway to EVERYTHING! However, like I did, most people see it as the end of your journey, they see it as the prize. He has shone me that salvation is just the beginning, that HE is the prize, and my journey only began at salvation. He wants to use his people for great things, and he will, the only question is do you want to show HIS glory and be rewarded for it, or do you want to live your life comfortably and then stand before the JESUS of Revelations empty handed? Either way HE WILL be glorified, but consider what that will mean for you.
I drink coffee not because I like the taste but simple because of the boost it gives me. I started thinking about that, I don’t really like coffee, as a matter of fact I have to pour lots of sugar and creamer in it just to be able to drink it, but I use it because I like what it does for me. Of course for some reason my mind always turn to things of God and I started thinking you know that is the way a lot of Christians are they love what God can do for them but they don’t love God. The go to church and are involved because they want the perks of religion but don’t have a relationship. Don’t get me wrong I am all about the perk of serving God and being saved but over the years I have developed a relationship with Jesus, and now I am at the point where I do what I do for him not because of what he will give me but because I really, truly love him. However like I always say I would not love him if he had not first loved me. What an awesome God I serve.
Had a very good discussion about free will in teen class last night. However the lesson was on being prepared to die, because the Bible says several time you don’t know when it will happen. After discussing free will for a while I ask my students “If free will is just an illusion and God really makes us do what he wants, is that wrong of him?” They said “no”. I went from there and talked about how God is and has always been in control, nothing happens with out him knowing. However knowing something is going to happen and making it happen are two different things. God is in complete control he can do anything he wants at anytime. We have example in both the Old and New testament where he hardens the heart of people and would not let them believe, but in those cases this was not their first encounter with God they had the opportunity before or after to believe. You see God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. At the same time do not take your free will for granted it can be imposed upon and even removed, to bring God glory, but we are all guaranteed by the Bible that at some point in our life we will have the opportunity to repent and believe. Be careful with that opportunity it may only come once and it may not be open long. God says TODAY is the day of salvation, because we don’t know what tomorrow holds.
What are you here for? I don’t mean right here right now but why are you alive? Is it to see how much money you can make or how many good times you can have before you die? Is it to make such a name for yourself that you are remembered for years to come? Is it to see just how religious you can be? What is the purpose of this life? What is your purpose? Did you know that all the above mentioned things will leave you unsatisfied and looking for the next big thing to fill the desire in you? You will have to live a life constantly filling that desire with the next happy moment, more money, more fame, more religion, more, more. You will never be satisfied. How do I know? Because I know what your purpose is in life. Wait how can I know what your suppose to do? Am I psychic? No I am just in touch with the one who knows it all. He tells me that you were created in love and created to love. WHAT? That is it? Wait before you brush it off so quickly did you know that love is the most powerful force given to man? Nothing else can compare to it. God tells me that he made you with a purpose, that is to Love him with everything you have and then to allow him to love others thru you. WOW! You have been chosen to wield God’s most power weapon! That should make you feel special. However don’t forget that we can only love Him because he loved us first and sent part of himself in the form of his son Jesus to demonstrate that love. He demonstrated that love not only thru his actions toward people as he lived but ultimately by his sacrificial death so that the world thru him could be saved. Most of this world will die never realizing their purpose, they will die unsatisfied, and without hope. You don’t have to follow the normal you can be a rebel and break the cycle in your life. You can live a life that very few it this world will have the guts to live. You see love will take you out of your comfort zone, make you give till it hurts and then make you give some more, it will take you in directions that are financially unwise to people of this world, but what they don’t know is that you will be transferring your saving account to the First National Bank of Heaven. The rewards you will be collecting are far beyond anything in this world, but it will also bring a satisfaction, and a joy that is beyond words. Are you big enough to love? Are you brave enough to fulfill your purpose? I hope so.