Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Guess what's in the kitchen for dinner?

Peter was willing to do about anything but this, well, this was way too far across the line for him. All of his life he had stuffed himself with organic vegetables, fruits, nuts and good Jewish food. God couldn't be serious about eating these pigs, birds, lizards and who knows what else. This was not a multiple choice game however. Peter was proud of the fact that his diet could be written up in "Heart Healthy Living" or "Eating Well" middle-eastern magazines. But God was in the kitchen this day and everything he prepared was eatable.

Peter was confused but knew he was not ready to graduate from cooking school just yet. Three men from the other side of the tracks came looking for Peter. God told Peter to go home with them. Peter goes and entering the house of the man who sent for him, announced to everyone that this was against the Jewish law for him to be there. And then one of the most significant words in this sentence-"But God...". When God shows up and talks it changes everything. Henry Blackaby said once "When God speaks to you, it is the most serious thing that could happen to you and it changes something you have believed or practiced." The vision of a new diet and now these men caused Peter to not hesitate in deciding to visit this man. Peter learned several lessons that day but he had to lay down his certainties or preferences first.

Have you excluded some things from what you have believed is acceptable or legitimate in the Christian life? How about spiritual gifts and their use today? How about who can serve communion or baptize? Or what about what constitutes church? We need to make sure what we believe and practice is rooted in the Word rather than our tradition or preference.


1. Think through a few traditions or practices of yours and make sure they are biblical and not just preferences.
2. Spend some time with someone who believes something different from you but who is definitely seeking to follow Jesus. See if you can have an unemotional conversation with them about it.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Connecting the Dots

Sometimes it really helps to have a plan in our minds that makes sense to us. It is kind of like drawing some kind of picture. If there are dots to connect in a specific order, the picture takes shape and looks like something that makes sense to us. If you are trying to draw a horse and you can connect dots 1 to 2 and then to 3 and so on, you have a better chance it will look like a horse and not a squirrel if you had no numbered dots.

Discipling another person is more comfortable if there are dots to connect. You just cover the material with someone or memorize certain verses and it's done. But...you don't have to think or be challenged or stretched or have to trust God to do the work in their life. In your mind, the picture of this person you are helping become a real follower of Jesus is more easily accomplished if there are certain dots to connect.

Phillip is about to go to a class without a textbook and the instructor is not in sight. How can you possibly learn or help anyone without the "Dot" textbook? Check out Acts 8:34, 35 and 39. What kind of textbook was Phillip working with here? Aren't we supposed to teach people to practice everything Jesus taught the original team?

Don't get caught in the trap of limiting God and using one discipling plan with everyone you are helping. After Phillip shared some stuff with this Ethiopian and baptized him, without notice God said "time to leave." But what about the follow up? There is no one box disciple making box with God. He is capable of bringing people into mature relationships with him any way he wants to.

Once in Athens, Greece in 1991 a student and I were teaching some Ethiopian refugees some basics in following Jesus. After our discussion they asked us what the origin of our church was. We had no clue. They however said they traced theirs back to this Ethiopian eunuch in Acts. This eunuch began the Coptic Church these refugees were a part of. Looks like Phillips discipleship plan worked.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Google Earth

None of us knew what Google Earth was a few years ago but it has become one of the best tools to check out new cities, get directions for travelling, view topography and whatever. But think about trying to determine how to get from Seattle, Washington Enterprise rental car location to Bellingham, Washington by looking at the globe that appears at the beginning of the Google Earth experience. All you see is a large globe that is cool for sure but will not get you out of the parking lot of your rental car dealer. However, if you type in your rental car dealer and city you can get a street view that will show you exactly how to get on Interstate 5 and head north.

Matthew 4:4, Hebrews 4:12 and 2 Timothy 3:16, 17 are like Google Earth in "street view". They give a clear perspective of what life is supposed to look like. The Message translation of John 10:10 adds that we will have "life better than you ever dreamed of." And the Timothy verse adds that the Word shows us truth, exposes our rebellion, corrects our mistakes and trains us to live God's way. That street view may be a little too close for you or maybe it just shows how much God really does love us and is interested in every aspect of our life.

Most people you and I know (including us at times) are trying to figure out life by looking at the globe map rather than the street view. Most don't even know there is a street view of how to live life. Some people don't even know what Google Earth is.

Google earth is a great tool if you are trying to figure out how to get somewhere or what something looks like...but only if you use the "street view."

Think about this

1. What kind of decisions are you trying to make these days? Get with a friend who has the "street view" and ask them what the Bible says about your decision.

2. What is a practical step you could take to change from looking at life from the "globe" perspective to a "street view"?

Monday, April 12, 2010

What was that sound?

It seems some people are very good at hearing-all kinds of things like bird sounds, people talking and even God. I am definitely getting older and my hearing is not as good as it was a few years ago. I probably do play some music too loud but it really sounds better loud. But I should be able to hear God better-right? I mean I have had almost 50 years working on it.

So, when I read Acts 8:26-30 I see a guy who is hanging out with some others and an angel shows up to tell him something. He obviously hears the angel because he starts out on the trip. Then later the Spirit tells him  to go see a guy whose car is on the side of the road. Hearing again, he does just that and has one of the most significant conversations anyone could have. The guy he talks with becomes a follower of Jesus and later starts the Coptic Church in Egypt and Ethiopia. Did you ever wake up thinking you would talk with someone who would end up doing this?

What the spank does an angel sound like and why did one talk with Philip? Then why did the Spirit take over later. Frannie and I are waiting to hear from God about a couple of things. We have been waiting from our perspective, for a while. I am not getting younger as you probably know and want to get on with it. Silence! That is what I am hearing these days. I am thinking Philip got a good deal.

I am intrigued by something Larry Crabb said. "How deep into darkness do Christians have to go to find light?" I love that and I hate it. I am not sure what it means but I think I am learning. Do I want answers or relationship with Jesus? God is all about relationship and answers to some of my questions are secondary to the larger picture. I have to remember my part in the movie is about "one" word. Darkness is indeed one of the best teachers. Taking the class over is a rip though. Isaiah 50:10-11 are huge as I think about my role in listening and planning.

Think about this

1. What can you learn in darkness that you can't learn in the light?
2. Do yo want Jesus more than you want answers to your questions? How do you know?

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Stretch...you can reach it

I can remember several times being on a ladder trying to reach something that seemed out of reach. In one final effort I would stretch beyond what I thought was possible and grabbed the light bulb or smoke detector. But, I had to really stretch. Now I doubt Jesus would be standing on the floor asking "how are you going to reach the bulb?" Not really. His questions challenge something much deeper and significant within us. We think we are at the top of the class in faith, understanding, ability...and then Jesus asks a question like he did with Philip in John 6:5-6 and we soon realize how long the trip is to get where God wants us to go or who he wants us to be.

Simple question-how are we going to feed several thousand people who are listening to Jesus? Maybe simple, but at the bottom of the well. Jesus already knew the answer but Phillip didn't have a clue. Phillip of course responded like we would "It would take almost a year's salary for everyone to get t bite." It makes sense as long as faith is not in the equation.

When was the last time Jesus posed a question to you like this? A man once told me "Don't let your vision be limited by men of limited vision." This is a Jesus thought but it is easy to respond to Jesus' questions from a perspective that does not involve faith and has no sense of adventure to it.

Are you uncomfortable  with questions Jesus wants to ask or is asking you? He wants to stretch you and me in such a way that faith is the only answer that will give us a grade of 100 on the exam. But maybe it is easier to get a "B" on the test. The problem is there are only 2 grades: Pass or Fail. And there is only one way to pass. Maybe you won't even take the class.

Think about this

1. When was the last time you decided to go all out and trust God for something you either thought was crazy or just plain not possible? 

2. Get with someone and talk about what God is testing in you or them and your willingness to move from where you are to wherever God has in mind.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

New prescription for your glasses

Ever have a day or week that really happened but you are not sure what it was about? I mean, not much of anything seemed to happen and you thought God must have gone on a trip somewhere because he did not seem to show up where you were.

There are times where it is hard to see that God is really working in or through your life and you are not sure what is going on. You can examine your heart, lifestyle, motives and attitude and come up with no explanation. Life just seems to move forward because you see a new date on the calendar every day.

But Jesus is in each of us who have become a follower of him and he is always at work in and around us. John 5:17 is as true as the new day that challenges us every day. Our Father is always working and so is Jesus. Jesus added in verses 19 and 20 that he only does what he sees the Father doing. He was able to wake up each day and see that God was working all around him.

First step-Do I believe God is always working in the people I am around?
Step two seems to be consistent time with God by reading and thinking about what I am reading in the Bible.
Step three might be doing exactly what God speaks to me about in the Word without hesitation or rationalization. When I do this, for whatever reason, I seem to be more alert and sensitive to seeing God at work around me.

But you still have to have an eye examination in order to get a new prescription. David asked God to examine him to see if anything was in his life that needed removed or changed. (Psalm 139:23,24)

Think about this:

1. Which of these steps do you need to take this week?
2. How serious are you in wanting to see God at work around you? What if it requires some adjustments in your routine, schedule or commitment?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Who are these guys?

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were being chased by a group of men who were persistent in their pursuit and almost caught up with Butch and Sundance until they jumped into a river and floated away. More than one time they asked "who are these guys?" as they were being chased.

Check out Acts 2:42-47. I have asked the same question about these followers of Jesus who lived a long time ago. Who are these people? Where are they or have they disappeared today? Have you really ever seen any believers live like this? I mean, really in our culture, is this possible or are we trapped into wondering what this is really about? Was this for them but not for us?

As I thought about this, God made it clear that this is a mark of a follower of Jesus who takes what Jesus said seriously. There are no multiple choice options for followers of Jesus then or now. So, how do I do this? I believe it is a lifestyle that basically says to other believers willing to live this way that what I have is theirs if they need it. We do this with our immediate families so why not with followers of Jesus who want to be on the same page? God made it clear to me that everything in our house is his and another believer if they need it.

I am determined to live this way with others who want to do the same. I have found two men who said they would live this way with me.

Is this reasonable? It is right if I am going to follow Jesus. these kinds of lifestyle commitments are the kinds that separate belief from conviction. Talk is easy and must be backed up with real change or it is pointless and is an insult to these early followers of Jesus.

Think about this:

1. Talk with another believer and see what they think about living this way today? If you are willing to do it, ask them if they are. But you have to mean it.

2. List every reason why this is not possible today for you and then what that means about any of the other statements of Jesus about following him.