Category Archives: faith

Life Journal 6/17/09 How then shall you live?

Young folks especially READ ON!!

Reading Colossians 3 today as a part of my Life Journal reading (If you haven’t gotten a Life Journal yet, there are some on the way). I read in my NKJV but then popped in for a rare visit (at least these days) to the Message translation of this same chapter. Eugene Peterson brought some good paraphrasing to this particular chapter. Paul is laying out some basic standards for living as Jesus-followers. This ties in with Jesus’ teachings on the Mount in Matthew 5-7. If we have really given our lives to Jesus and accepted the love, grace and mercy available because of the cross and resurrection then Paul challenges us to truly change the way we live. I see this chapter especially poignant to young people. Our faith in the US has experienced somewhat of a backlash against religious legalism, and for the most part I’m all for it. There has been added “requirements” placed on Christ-followers that aren’t based in Scripture. This backlash has been especially true among young adults and teenagers. One of the things I love about Ephesus Church is the freedom to truly be ourselves. To be discipled and challenged and grow while not bogged down with false legalism and requirements.

However…there are some dangers to this new exploration of “freedom in Christ.” Taking it too far. As Christians we are called to righteousness in our thinking and our actions. Jesus sets this up in Matthew 5-7 and Paul continues it through much of his writings (probably because it’s all from God and is useful for teaching!), especially here in Colossians 3. Too often young people who are Christians push the envelope a little too far in how they live life. Too much drinking, too much “passion” (Col. 3.5), too much filthy language, etc. Another element that Eugene Peterson translates in the Message is good stuff: “killing off everything connected with that way of death:…doing whatever you feel like whenever you feel like it.” Then later, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord, rather than for men.”(both Colossians 3)

Young people, hear me, how are you going to live? Jesus is calling us all to more than just acceptance of the cross, He’s calling us to righteousness in every aspect of our lives. Live free, enjoy life, don’t get bogged down in legalism. Those of you that have hung out with me know I strive to live this way. BUT, there is a balance. Don’t be like the world just because you have “freedom.” Choose to live differently as Scripture challenges us to live differently in those areas of your life. Read and meditate on Colossians 3 and see if there are areas in your life where some shifts need to take place.

Game on!

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Rational Thought

Today I was reading John chapter 6. Currently, I’m digging through the book of John one chapter at a time just discovering the nuances of John’s descriptions of the life of Jesus. John really digs into the divinity of Jesus, and in this reveals challenging stories and words from Jesus. It’s quite interesting to see many walk AWAY from Jesus, even those that are called “disciples” by John. There is no shortage of miracles, and explanations of those miracles being used not as ends to themselves, but as indicators of Jesus’ divinity, which is really important to the end of the story….Even in the midst of watching these miracles performed Jesus’ words turned people away. Beginning in v. 51 Jesus begins to talk about how we must eat of his flesh and drink of his blood. For folks like me who grew up within the Christian tradition, I think we can have a tendency to gloss over these passages, but if we take them at face value, they’re crazy! Eat flesh & drink blood! That’s crazy at best, something much more sinister at worst. At least if taken out of context, and devoid of the rest of the story. The story that ends at the cross and resurrection. In v. 66, John says many of his disciples walked away. Not just the rabble looking for a free handout of bread and fish, his disciples. Granted, these weren’t the 12, but the fact that they’re called disciples means these were, up to that point, true followers that walked away. Where I think the breakdown happened was their attempt to wholly line up rational thinking with what Jesus was saying. Understandably, rational thought helps us survive everyday. When I make the rational decision to wait at a red light so I don’t get mowed down by a dump truck no one argues. But when following a person like Jesus, rationality breaks down. Immediately before this event in John 6, Jesus walked out on the Sea of Galilee and hopped in the boat with these same disciples, and then, they immediately arrived on the other side at their destination. Rational? Right before that, Jesus fed 5000 people with a couple of pieces of bread and some fish that had been hauled up the mountain in some boys satchel, that I have a feeling did not include one of those nice ice packs to keep everything fresh….Rational thought is out the window at that point, what the disciple did have was the reality that was truly staring them right in the face. A man telling them that unless they ate his flesh and drank his blood they would always hunger. Many walked away, but Peter in all of his great humanly wisdom says this, ” Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” Those are the most rational words I know…

Journaling

I have to be honest I’m not a huge fan of journaling. But it is so important and I’m always having to reengage and make myself start doing it again. This past week I got back to writing on nearly a daily basis and I pulled out a journal I hadn’t used in a year. And that’s when I really understood why it is so important. I’m in the Word on a regular basis, but I don’t write down my thoughts and what God is speaking to me in a journal. But I read my entry from August 23 of last year. I was in a tough place and was really down and was reading about David being broken and Hezekiah being humbled and I wrote about how I realized God was working in me, even though it hurt and that I needed to be there. I didn’t know what was going to happen next in my journey, but now looking back, I know that within just a few weeks of me reading and journaling about what God had been doing in me, things began to radically change and God took me down an incredible path that gave me freedom to move forward. Without that journal entry I wouldn’t have a place to look back and remember what God has done. To read my intimate thoughts at that particular time. Throughout the Old Testament we see God’s people forget over and over again what God had done for them and screw up. We do the same thing. Maybe not quite as spectacularly as they did, but we still do it. That’s why I know I need to journal. I forget way to easy. Thank you Lord for what you have done in this past year and for prompting me to write it down so I can remember and give you praise.

Old school techno with a message

I was listening to a favorite of mine today, Raving Lunatics, fronted by Scott Blackwell and unfortunately gone to obscurity I think after one album. But this album is on iTunes and I hadn’t heard it in a while (thanks Mike B. for the intro it several years back), so I got it a few weeks ago and was listening this morning. As a Foursquare guy it’s the greatest because it drops smooth grooves over the top of preaching from Scott Bauer and Aimee Semple McPherson so I feel holier just listening to it…. Anyway, track 3 is a song called Bound and it is Scott Bauer preaching on Lazarus coming out of the grave. What we don’t often realize is Lazarus would have been nasty when he came out. Wrapped in linen strips that have been absorbing the stink of his death for 3 days, bodily fluids that would have been released…you get the idea. But it was still Jesus working a miracle. Lazarus was alive again, new birth, but there was still some stink around. Jesus’ miracle wasn’t surrounded by clean, sterile faith in a nice package. Jesus’ miracle was earth-shattering and enormous but it was done in a messy place with a messy guy who had been dead for 3 days. Why do we expect everyone to come to the cross clean and looking clean shaven? Can Jesus not do a miracle in messy people with filth still clinging to them? Should Mary and Martha told Lazarus to go back into the tomb until he could get himself cleaned up? Powerful stuff, I haven’t responded to a sermon like that in a long time. Am I truly ready to accept the messy people Jesus is doing miracles in? I’ve got to search my heart…now where’s my glow stick and lollipop I’ve got some more techno to listen to!

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God’s a good God…in case you were wondering

You know how no matter how much God does you always come back to that place of wondering if He is still working? Why do we suck so bad at trusting? Anyway, God spoke to me through several folks over the last week. I’m plugged in to a men’s class here at church and I was talking with one of the guys, and he was asking how things were. And I said pretty good, but it’s overwhelming sometimes thinking about what’s ahead. He pointed me to Ephesians 2.10, “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in ADVANCE for us to do.” That was the key, God already has it taken care of. That’s powerful stuff really. I’m teaching in that class tonight on faith, and we talk about, we give it lip service, but do we really trust God that He has prepared everything in ADVANCE?
Then on Sunday I was in the Single Adult class, one of my duties during this year. I’ll be honest and say I’ve really been leaning on God about that responsibility. The group is typically a bit older than I am, and I have not really experienced singleness like they have, so the question is there of my viability for the role. God has certainly been working in me and working in them throughout the process. I know I have so much I can learn and gain from all of it. Then on Sunday one of the leaders made a point that she felt God really wanted to make clear that they all come around me during this season to help me better understand single adults and also help me prepare for planting a church. It was powerful! Then another individual said let’s pray now! So they came around me, laid hands on me and began to pray. Very cool stuff. God has prepared in advance…He knew where I was and where I am going. Afterward the two leaders came up and shared that they felt like God had told them “what a privilege” to be a part of my ministry now and my preparation for what is ahead. She compared it to Billy Graham’s 3rd grade Sunday School teacher seeing what he would become later on. Oh man that’s crazy stuff! Anyway, writing to share and also writing to help remind me of God doing His thing and being faithful.