there’s a group of us that have been going through a discipleship curriculum called “sonship” by world harvest mission. one of the lessons calls us to share “justification by faith” with a non-believer. to do this takes courage. to do this also takes an understanding of our faith as christians. but more than these, to do this takes a dependency on the Holy Spirit to do what only He can do. i’ve stumbled and fumbled my way through sharing the gospel plenty of times and have a hard time communicating justification by faith without using the words “justification” or “faith.” what about you? do you ever feel ill-equipped or at a complete loss of words when you’re in a place to share your faith?
i believe that it’s in these moments that we’re supposed to move forward and depend on the Holy Spirit. i think that it has less to do with us than we think. i’ve seen and experienced people come to Christ through a fumbling and stumbling of words. and, i know that my revelation of God and Jesus Christ was not because someone convinced me, but because the Holy Spirit breathed life into me.
when will we trust in the power of the Holy Spirit? what will it take to let go of our limitations and press further into our life’s journey led by Jesus Christ? i’m not writing this as a criticism. i’m writing this to challenge myself and hopefully you to trust in the power of the Holy Spirit!!! let’s go… as Scripture says, “the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.” and as it says in the next verse, i’m praying that he Lord of the harvest will send you and into “His” harvest field!!! (Matthew 9: 37-38)
The olympics have been a real treat and addiction for me this Winter. I’ve been watching as much as I can because the competition has been amazing (yes, I even watched some curling)! 😉 One of the stand out moments for me was Shaun White’s half pipe performances. He had done so well in the first heat that all he had to do to win gold was board right through the middle of the half pipe. What’s his response? He does some of the most amazing tricks that anyone has ever seen!
I was thinking about this and what freedom and grace does to and for us. Sometimes we think, “I’m covered by grace so there’s no need to try anymore.” Sometimes we worry about making grace cheap because we can’t seem to change. But what is we could experience the freedom that grace brings to a point where we live extraordinary lives. It wouldn’t be about trying to win anything anymore or trying to “make it.” It would be about living all out because we can and because failure wouldn’t change our status. We might do some amazing things that no one has ever seen or thought possible.
We’re like Shaun White about to drop in knowing already that the gold is in hand. The gospel has freed us given us a status before God that is unchangeable. So what will it be? Do you cruise? Or do you go for it? The choice is yours…
I’m starting to realize the power of being “with” someone. I know that we’re always looking for specific answers and used to asking specific questions of “how,” but I’m learning more and more that spending time “with” someone creates change.
If we knew everything that we were supposed to do, we’d be more lost. We’d find less reason to have a relationship with God. We’d no longer be human. I know that this is a strong statement, but I truly believe that God was calling us to Him to be “with” Him. It’s not about letting us know what we should or shouldn’t do, but about loving us and being in relationship with us.
What would it look like if we really, truly spent time “with” one another instead of just knowing what to do in life? Maybe there would be more love, more grace, more forgiveness, more justice, and more reconciliation…
I was thinking last night about how I approach scripture and God in prayer. I have so many questions about my life and am typically seeking answers. So, I open up my Bible in hopes to find some kind of wisdom for my circumstance/problem. Or I’ll ask God for clarity or help to see my plans through.
I started to wonder, however, if I’m coming at this from a wrong angle. What if I didn’t come in looking for answers to “my” questions or looking for clarity for “my” plans, but instead came in posture of openness and listened more broadly? What if I sought God to and allowed Him to really direct my steps and future instead of asking Him to bless what I bring before Him? I thought of how scary and yet how freeing it would be. It’s scary because I know it would stretch me, break me, and challenge me. It’s freeing because I wouldn’t be so locked into my plan and what I perceive to be “detours” would actually be “the” path…
As I’ve been stretching and growing these past couple of years, I’ve wrestled much with my faith as a process and a journey. I have to admit that I’m a pendulum swinger when it comes to my thoughts and ideals. I moved so much into the idea that our faith is a process that I completely discounted “moments.” I devalued Sunday service thinking, “it’s just an hour on Sunday.” I wanted to get away from creating events and focus on the long-haul. I know that we yearn to be incarnational and live among the lost that we might build strong relationships and solidarity. We want to move away from programs and events that get in the way sometimes of real, authentic relationship.
But… are “moments” meaningless? Aren’t there moments that change our lives forever? I think of my revelation of God and Christ. I think about the moment in worship where I felt like God was compelling me to go into the ministry as a pastor. I still remember the sermon that changed the way I looked at my finances and started giving radically. Or, the moment where I heard the word, “Convergence” and ultimately moved my family to Oakland to plant this seed of a dream. There are moments that we experience that lead to real, genuine life change. Moments have more impact than we can ever fully realize…
there’s still something in me that believes that i can “overcome” sin and “do it right.” I catch a glimpse of myself doing the right thing and think, “I can keep doing this…” Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s possible to change, but I’m believing more and more that it’s only through faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ. I think we have tend to land on a moralistic “don’t do this” place and feel good for the season that we can keep it up.
i caught a profound glimpse of truth the other day when i had not eaten the entire day. i thought to myself when i started to eat dinner that i need self control to not gorge even though my body had been starved all day. what happened? i totally gorged. i ate and ate and ate and ate… i ate like there was going to be no food tomorrow. this taught me that the idea of will powered change can only last for a short time.
to believe in the gospel of Jesus is to acknowledge and receive a change of heart. i have to understand the deeper issues that drive me to my outer behavior. our behavior is but a reflection of the inner dysfunction of our soul. to change it leaves the heart in it’s dysfunction. to go to the heart is to address the core issues.
More than ever, I’ve been in conversations that have made me think of time from a biblical standpoint. We live in a world where we have weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual goals. And, when something goes wrong or nothing goes on for a bit (like a week or two), we start to stress and worry if what we’re doing is making any difference.
The Bible, however, talks about generations and time spans years, seasons. The one that sticks out the most is 40 years in a desert. I think about the plight of the Israelites in the desert and how I too would be grumbling and complaining after a few months of daily walking in the desert. Or how I might be tempted to melt some gold after a few decades.
I’m reminded of pace. I’m reminded that we must “daily” give our lives to the Lord and trust that the Holy Spirit will do the rest. I’m further reminded that faith is: “to be sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1).
I have to admit that 2009 was my worse and toughest physical year yet. I slacked on my workouts and slacked even further when I fell from a ladder in my garage and tweeked my back. In the Fall, I passed out from fatigue and had to force myself to rest and take my health more seriously. Through all of this, I’ve definitely become more aware of the necessity to keep my core strong. I don’t work out the vanity muscles anymore (c’mon guys, you know what i’m talking about – the biceps) but rather make sure that my core muscles are in shape – i.e. abs and lower back.
This idea of “core strength” is challenging to me as I consider my spiritual well being as well. I think that it’s what Christ means when he talks about doing things like praying and giving in secret instead of displaying them in public. I think it’s what Paul means when he talks about Christ in us and growing in “inner strength” through his Spirit (Ephesians 3:16). If we remain focused on our public display of strength and only work out those muscles (spiritual or physical), we may be weaker than we think. My inner strength grows as I continue to trust in HIm and as I continue to give more and more of my will over to Him. It’s from this “core” that I’m able to make tough decisions, remain steadfast in times of uncertainty or opposition, and love when it seems like it’s impossible to do so… How’s your core? How would you gauge your inner strength?
One of the questions I get asked quite a bit is, “What are you hearing from God lately?” I have to say that as a pastor, this is sometimes an anxiety laden question if I haven’t heard anything for a week or two. I guess what’s been challenging and comforting for me in meditating upon the question and my response is that faith grows in the absence of God’s voice more than in the presence of it. Don’t get me wrong… hearing God’s voice is faith building in it’s own way, but I realize that when I don’t hear anything I’m then at a place where everything that I believe in has to kick in to gear.
So, what am I hearing from God lately? It’s a peaceful silence. It’s a reassuring silence. It’s a season of trust and confidence in what God has ‘already’ done in me…
How long are we wiling to wait to see results? We typically have short-term goals and long-term goals that we create and aim for, but there’s this nagging monkey on our back that’s called impatience and pressure to always meet our goals on time if not ahead of time. In business and in ministry, we’ll make annual evaluations to see what we’ll continue to do and what we’ll stop doing. This has always intrigued me because the expectation of the “speed of change” is so high.
When I consider the pressure to perform and create results in this fast-paced environment, I can’t help but think about the ramifications (good and bad) that emerge. It’s good to be highly flexible and adaptive, but I also think that we can end of short-cutting and killing some things that are good, but take time. I also think that the shorter time intervals reinforces a selfish nature. I consider philanthropy and how at times there is pressure from donors to “perform” based on their investment. They want a return on their charitable contribution because they want to know that their money is well invested (even charity). This, however, is a self-fulfilling, demand driven philanthropy that can choke the beauty and long term development of an organization/movement.
All this is to say… how long are we willing to wait? Do we believe in patience? Moses led a movement through the desert to the promised land but never made it. Are we willing to be a generation that moves without ‘seeing’ results? Are we willing to invest everything that we have and every fiber of our being for the sake of the next generation? Imagine the potential for true, sustaining change…