Tuesday, December 29, 2009

“The Message of Jesus” – Andy Stanley (North Point Ministries)

“The Message of Jesus” – Andy Stanley (North Point Ministries)

The Calling of Matthew

9As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.

10While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and “sinners” came and ate with him and his disciples. 11When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and ’sinners’?”

12On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

(Matthew 9:9:12 – NIV)

Melts in your mouth!

Seriously. If this is the message of Christ, are you truly living it out? Or do you call the shots when it comes to showing others the way to follow Christ?

This is the Jesus that people need to see more often--especially today!

If you're living out your faith any other way than what you saw above, you probably need to step back and reevaluate whether or not your doing anything productive with your faith these days..

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Sometimes God takes your CheeChay...

I noticed a little something a couple of days ago that I thought was worth mentioning.

Some of my family got together recently for Christmas. My 2ish year old niece was one of the ones there. This is only her 2nd Christmas, but she's got a good handle on what happens around this time of year--everyone she knows brings her a pwesent.

Well Olivia definitely got some presents that day. One of them was a miniature horse doll type of thing. It was just like the real thing, except for the fact that it was small (like the size of a beagle), and made of plastic... no circulatory system... or bones... or soft tissue parts. It was a doll, so... it did have really soft hair though. Anyway, this horse doll also came with its very own saddle and blanket, a saddlebag, a halter, a hair brush, and a carrot. So needless to say, this horse doll was pretty much the coolest thing made.

Olivia's equine (that's horse) awareness recently blossomed ever since she rode one of our real horses (named TJ) at the house one day. This horse has everything--circulatory system, bones, plenty of soft tissue, and nice gut sounds. So needless to say, after the wrapping paper was ripped away, Olivia immediately saw what she thought was TJ now standing in the living room waiting to be saddled up and ridden between the couches.

There was one problem though. This doll was never made for riding. In fact, soon after Olivia hopped onto the toy horse (even after we told her to hold off on that), the legs started bending in ways they were never intended to bend due to Olivia's body weight. We told her to back off the horse and not to try to ride it. This was for petting and stuff.

This was where my "lets over analyze a tiny kid's thought process" skills came into play. At this point, I noticed Olivia was dead set on riding that toy horse even though we specifically told her she couldn't do it.

And why shouldn't she be able to ride this horse? It was her gift after all. We gave it to her and said, "Hey you! Yeah, you! Little tiny kid! Here is a miniature version of that big black horse we taught you to ride several weeks ago. Ya know? The one that you sat on that day at that place with the people? With those hats and stuff?"

Can you imagine what was going through that kid's mind as we barked these new and unexpected rules at her? Maybe something like this:

My sis: Look Oli! It's TJ!!
Olivia: Shweet! It's CheeChay!! Just like da big CheeChay, except tiny size CheeChay!!
My sis: Isn't that neat Oli? Your very own little TJ!!
Olivia: Mmm...kool-aid. I ride CheeChay!!
My sis: Put his saddle on him!!
Olivia: Mine! I ride it! cheeechay shhishca bennspaddle bine!
Me: Kid, we can't understand you!
My sis: Adam, be quiet!
Me: I think she's gonna try to ride it...

At this point in time, everyone is watching Olivia because she's cute and stuff. Everyone in the room is on the edge of their seat, watching everything she's doing and is about to do with the tiny horse doll. Surely she has something nice and babyish cooked up to amuse us all.

Well, what does she do?

Olivia: CheeChay! I ride it!
Me: What is she sayin?
Dad: Up... looks like the legs on that doll are bending the wrong way.
Sis: Olivia, get off the horse!

Who is right in this whole anyway?

We gave Olivia a new toy to enjoy and play with. It was intended to be hers.

On the other hand, we can see that Olivia isn't using her new gift the right way. She ruining it, and she doesn't even see it.

So... what is the most appropriate action? If she has been informed over and over again, and she still refuses (whether she realizes it or not) to heed our warnings, we need to take it from her until she understands how to use her new gift properly--the way it was intended to be used.

Sure, we could spare her the disappointment by allowing her to do what she wants with her new doll. After all, her mind is clearly registering her current activity (riding the doll) as FUN, therefore, the gift is serving it's purpose. Why can't she continue to do with it what she feels is utilizing it in the manner in which it was intended?

The answer is common sense!! She's going to COMPLETELY RUIN it! Sure, she's having a good time now, but what kind of parent would sit back and watch their child do something that would cause them sadness in the end? The parent provides the gift for the purpose of watching their child get out it what was intended--nothing less.

What would happen is this: She would get on top of the horse and have a great time. But as I sat and watch it all unfold, I can definitely tell you that her time of fun would have lasted no more than 10 minutes. After those 10 minutes of bliss, Olivia would soon find herself sad and without. And we just sat back and watched it unfold. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see the flaw in this parenting methodology.

So here's why I said all that.

If it's common sense for the parent to spare the child a long term loss rather than an short term loss, why is it so hard to wrap our minds around the idea of a loving God doing the same for us? He is the epitome of love. He loves like nothing else in creation. How much more is he going to look out for the long term happiness of His most prized creation (people)?

We don't understand why we had to lose that certain romance that we "just knew" was right for us. We don't understand why we were denied a chance to attend that one certain college we always wanted attend. We can't see the ultimate purpose in losing that certain loved one.

We can't see all these things. And when we lose them, it hurts us. But to keep our ultimate happiness intact, God takes away certain things (or maybe even throws something else into the mix). Either way, we need to understand this concept: God knows what He's doing. We need to always remember that He will always give us the ABSOLUTE BEST, even if we can't see it at that exact moment.

Romans 11
33Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!
34"Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?"
35"Who has ever given to God,
that God should repay him?"
36For from him and through him and to him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen

Dang this was long...

Comments or critiques?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Doing the ol dance routine. Again...

We (Christians) always have those stages where we feel disconnected from God at some point in time. Some may deal with it more frequently than others. I would say for me, it happens at least several times a year. Don't know what it is for others, but that's just me.

I feel the need to be honest with myself and God. After all, if you can't be honest with at least yourself and God, who can you be honest with?

I find myself in yet another spaced out trance. The typical, distracted kind. I cant put my finger on it exactly, but Im sure several things could be the cause.

Ultimately, it comes down to me and God. It seems I've lost Him yet again. I cant narrow it down to any particular time. All I know is that it happened some time between the time I had Him and the time I lost Him, now.

You rarely see it coming until it actually happens, and you find yourself sitting in your house at night writing about it.

But it's the same old thing. I can't seem find the motivation or enthusiasms to get in the Word as I should. I don't pray to God or intercede for others like I know I should. I feel like I'm in no place to intercede for others to begin with. Of course, no one else around me notices that. They see the show I put on... but I don't think I would call it a show actually. It's more like an unenthused dance routine. I do what I do because it's what is expected of me (by those who are supposed to keep me accountable and everyone else). I act how I act and say what I say, because I'm supposed to-- I know this.

And Im not saying that what I do and say around people is false or deceptive. It's just that my reasons for my "doing" and "saying" are all wrong (whether anyone else can see that or not). The right motivation isn't there.

So if the right motivation is absent, then the wrong motivation must be present. What IS that motivation then? For now, I'd have to say the motive is guilt. That's the one word that stays in my mind. And guilt is, I'm pretty sure, my specific kryptonite. For others, the motivation may come from some other weakness. Mine, guilt. Self-condemnation.

My guilt can be what drives me to perform (as in doing things). To go to the Sunday service, to get the job done, to finally sit and pray for this person, and the list goes on. Most of the my service is spurred by my guilt for not doing what I know I should've done all along.

There's two Adams here. Adam in the flesh and Adam in Christ. They are complete opposites and have completely opposite interests. In grace, Christ called us away from the flesh, so that we would come back to Him (Our first love). And I feel guilt when I ignore that call.

Im guilty for ignoring who I truly am in Christ.
I've been save by grace, and with that grace comes a responsibility. An accountability to God, myself, and others. And I feel guilt for having clung to that grace while I selfishly ignore the role God intended for me to have as a recipient of His grace.

Instead, Im self serving, especially when no one else is around to see it. I don't do what I know I should do, and I do what I know I shouldn't do. Boy, is that a familiar statement?

So when Im approached by those who expect me to be ready and prepped to show the fruit of my spiritual labors, I cringe and desperately scrape from the bottom of the spiritual bucket with hopes (selfish hopes) that it will be enough to get me by.

What's insane is that my bucket could EASILY be replenished and overflowing with the fruit that God is aching for us all to accept. But for our own selfish reasons, we decide not to walk over and take His offer. 100% free, no catch, no gimmicks. Free offer.

I choose nothing when I could have everything and more. I could be overflowing, but I choose to scrape by, time and again. It doesn't make sense. Why do I do it? Why do we all do it?

What's really crazy is that when I finally own up to my "emptiness", whether in shame/embarrassment/ guilt/whatever, I hesitate to face God (knowing He has all I could ever need. Right there in front of my face). The same ignorant reasoning that left me baron is keeping me from going back to the source that saves me and replenishes me.

Even as I write this, I still cringe at the thought of taking those first few steps back in His direction-- the right direction. The direction that completely satisfies. The direction that sets everything right.

And, again, it's for selfish reasons: "How hard will it be to turn this ship around?", "What is this whole thing going to require from me?", "How long will this take?", "What if it's harder than what I want it to be?"

There it is!!

Jesus' "mission statement"

Luke 4

17And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book and found the place where it was written,

20And He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him. 21And He began to say to them, "Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."

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