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All posts for the month April, 2011

There is a story of Jesus, in Matthew 14, feeding thousands of people. Earlier, the disciples told Jesus to send the people home as it was getting late and they were hungry. But instead, Jesus does a miracle. What I find interesting is that, after dinner, Jesus sent them home anyway. So, why the miracle? If He was planning on sending them home after dinner, why not send them home before dinner? Was it just so he could show off? I think it was because of compassion.

Jesus cared about the people’s financial state. He cared about their hunger. He cared about them traveling on empty stomachs. He cared about these things more than He cared about the organizational complexity of feeding thousands of people. Compassion trumped complex every time with Jesus.

I love the phrase, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” I’m not a good “can’t be done” type person. If someone tells me something is impossible, I will make it my life mission to prove otherwise.

Why do we limit ourselves, and our God, by allowing the complexities of life to crowd out the miraculous?

This is what I’m going to do: start looking at every situation with the eyes of compassion. And then, when needs arrive, to have the boldness to say to those who would try to escape complexity; who desire to keep things too neat, tidy, and simple, “that’s not necessary…let’s do something about the need.”

Life is too short to play it safe, to hedge our bets, to live a life of ease. Sacrifice and servanthood are two of the immediate responses of people who have true compassion. Jesus always seemed to choose the harder path. I seem to choose the easier one. I need His help today to lay my life down, to think big, to see every situation in light of His greatness and all-sufficiency.

Are you prone to argue science or reason with those who set themselves against God? It seems to me there are two extremes in the Christain movement: one side stays out of the fight and tries to live a quiet life; the other extreme tries to “talk down” the other side using superior knowledge and wisdom. There is also a growing number of Christ followers that are downplaying that Christ is the only way to salvation.

In 2 Corinthians 5:10 it gives all sides something to ponder. It says, “Casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” Paul uses imagery of towers or fortresses as this knowledge that tries to discredit God. It builds itself up. It lays a foundation that assumes God doesn’t exist or isn’t involved or can be found in everything, and then it builds on that layers of reasoning that supports its initial theory, never again questioning its foundations.

As Christ followers, God ambassadors, we are to “cast down arguments.” Does this mean we should arm ourselves with all the knowledge we can and use the world’s weapons (of reason and science) against them? Earlier in this chapter, Paul tells us not to do that. So then how do we cast down these strongholds? We are certainly not called to sit quietly while these towers are built.

Have you ever seen an abandoned building? A building that once was vibrant and full of activity? When I lived in Los Angeles I would occasionally take the train to work. The train took me to the central station downtown and then I would walk a few blocks to catch the bus. On my walk I would see multi-story buildings abandoned.

This is what Paul is talking about. We are not called to dis-prove the world’s knowledge (to tear the building down). We are called to help them abandon it. How? Through the Spirit. His work is to bring revelation of Christ to the world. He is the Great Convincer. I’ve been in church services where an atheist was cut to the heart and came running to God. And it wasn’t because I convinced him or had the best argument. It was the power of God.

What about those who have softened Christ’s work, by denying He is the only way to God? Paul mentions here that we are to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. Every thought we have should be filtered by what Has been revealed to us about Christ. As soon as our truth filter removes Christ, we open ourselves up to knowledge that exalts itself above God. He chose to reveal Himself through Christ. Christ, and Christ alone, is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16).

The most abandoned buildings in Europe are church buildings. Why? Because they either tried to fight reason with reason or they tried to soften the gospel to better fit the culture or they kept speaking the gospel in condemning tones, all of which failed. We desperately need the power of God.

I hate the phrase “slow down.” I don’t like to hear it when I’m driving and I definitely don’t like to hear it when I’m leading. I’m the type of person that when I finish with one project I go right to the next. One thing leads right to another, no reflection, no rest.

This morning I was reading about Joshua and the people of Israel crossing the Jordan into the promised land. What a cool story (Joshua 1-5). Here is how the progression went:

1) Sent spies to Jericho to see what the atmosphere was (they found it was ready to fall)
2) Crossing the Jordan
3) Set up a memorial to remember
4) Circumcised every male
5) Rested
6) Met the commander of the Lord’s Army
7) Planned the attack on Jericho

My typical flow is to go from from #2 to #7 – finish one thing and get on with the next. But I was reminded of what God desires for us that will lead to health and longevity.

Remember…take time to remember and to talk about how God has been faithful…celebrate the wins!

Recommit…thankfully He is not asking me to be circumcised, but take time to recommit your heart to His purposes.

Rest…take time to recover from the last big thing.

These three things will enable any leader to be effective in the long run. And then before starting the next venture, take time to re-submit your plans to God and hear what He wants and even how He wants you to do the next big thing.

Then, after all this, go for it. Don’t let anything stop you.

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Grace. It has become my favorite word. I can’t earn God’s love; I don’t deserve it. He gives it freely. The Bible says we love God because He first loved us. How did God show His love for humanity? By sending His Son to die on a cross so our sins would be forgiven. I love Him for a lot of other reasons too, but my first love moment with Him came when I embraced this truth of Jesus Christ. At that moment, through Jesus, God became my friend and advocate. He washed away my mistakes from the inside out. And He still does that. How wide and deep is the love of God?

This is Grace, and I will be eternally grateful.

When I used to run competitively I remember always being concerned about avoiding the things that would disqualify me. Sometimes it was unavoidable, but 99% of the time there were things I could do to avoid that awful reality.

So I’ve been thinking a lot about how I live lately. Then I read 2 Corinthians 6:3 which says, “We live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us, and no one will find fault with our ministry.”

Here is a short list of the things Paul mentions as potential disqualifiers for people running with the good news of Christ. Now these things don’t separate us from the love of God. It doesn’t disqualify us from relationship with Him. He loves us and accepts us, but these arer potential stumbling blocks to people hearing the good news.

– Not able to endure tough times with grace (vs 4)
– Taking the easy road and not working hard (vs 5)
– Living with impurity (vs 6)
– Being unkind (vs 6)
– Leading in our flesh rather than in the Spirit (vs 6)
– Being unloving (vs 6)
– Not preaching truth (vs 7)
– Preaching without power (vs 7)
– People pleasers (vs 8)
– Never joyful (vs 10)
– Living extravagantly (vs 10)

What are other ways we disqualify ourselves from being heard? Which of these do you struggle with? There are three that I always have to watch out for (impurity, leading more out of flesh, and people pleasing).