Archive for the ‘Discipleship’ Category

If you have an itch…

Posted: November 14, 2012 in Discipleship, Theology

I once had a professor at Southwestern who impressed me in a profound way. Maybe it’s because he the first professor that had a brain and a personality. Or, maybe it was his well-rounded intelligence….He could speak a little bit about nearly any subject. Whatever it was one day after class I asked him a question (in my uniquely goofy way), “How do I get as smart as you?” His answer wasn’t exactly what I expected. He said, “When you have an itch, scratch it.”

It was obvious a follow up question would be needed, so I said “What do you mean?” He responded, “Someone I admired once told me that if was curious about anything I should read 3 books on the subject. If you read 5 you’ll be an expert. That’s because every author reads dozens of books to write their own. If you read 5 its like having read the highlights of 50 books.”

I’ve read 5 books on many subjects and never been invited to pontificate (my prof’s favorite word) on CNN, but I know I’m a lot smarter. Maybe I’ll never be like Dr. Sands, but I know I feel prepared to talk intelligently on a lot more subjects than I did 10 years ago. As a starting point for your deep journey I’m listing my favorite books on various subjects. If you finish this list you probably won’t be an expert either. But, that itch you have will be a lot less annoying after you’ve scratched it…

Spiritual Disciplines:

The short lived fashion trend of wearing a WWJD bracelet has been dead for years. If you’ve been a Christian a decade or more you probably owned one in your life. If not, be grateful that you can be asked that question without immediately thinking of an armband.

So, “What would Jesus do?” If Jesus were living in America in 2012 just before an election of our next President, with debates about homosexuality raging, and the national debt climbing out of control…what would He do? How would He vote, what issues would He comment on, what plan of action would He suggest to climb out of the hole we have dug for ourselves financially as a country?

Nobody can really answer that question, but it’s fun to pontificate…

Have you ever heard about a servery overweight person getting kicked out of church for being a glutton? Why don’t Christian picked buffets? Are divorced people told to stay home by pastors until they are remarried to their original spouses? Do we make liars pass a polygraph before they can take communion?
If the Bible teaches the borrower is a slave to the lender (Proverbs 22:7), that immigrants are to be treated as one of our own (Leviticus 19:34), and that If God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16), a gluttonous son was to be stoned (Deuteronomy 21:20-21), and liars are destined for a lake of fire (Revelation 21:8)…why has an issue like homosexuality so easily divided us? With this many Biblical convictions to consider, can we really pick our leaders based solely on their political party?

Maybe, Jesus would stay out of politics and hide behind His “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above” comment (John 19:11), because His Dad puts people in office. Maybe, He would simply say, “Then neither do I condemn you” (John 8:11) to the woman who has had an abortion or the man who has committed adultery. It’s even possible that he would hangout with people who would prefer to murder people with fire from Heaven (Luke 9:54) rather then send them away until they matured.

So, here is my WWJD conclusion…

We are not called to judge the type, severity, and quantity of others sin. We are called to love people and share the truth. The truth we share shouldn’t be “YOU ARE A SINNER and headed to Hell!!” The truth they need is that even if you are dying for the crimes you’ve committed (Luke 23:39-43) Jesus loves you and will save you. In other words…there is hope! Hope for salvation, unification, finding our purpose, and a better future (Lamentations 3:22-23).

When Jesus stepped out of Heaven and decided to take His 33 year sojourn on this Earth He had a very obvious agenda.  As I see it, it was announce the Kingdom of God, challenge people to live by faith, do miracles, and to make disciples.  This way His legacy was secure and His disciples could carry on these tenets when He left.  It goes without saying that He accomplished His mission quite well.

As we look back back on the Scriptures (hindsight being 20/20) it seems clear as crystal what He was doing.  What was shocking and provocative 2000 years ago is vividly clear to us.  So, why is the execution of it so complicated?  Why are there so many books trying to find some edge, or missing element, or uncover a lost truth.  Why has discipleship become so difficult and complicated, while producing so few people willing to execute Jesus’ teachings?  Is it simply that we aren’t divine and therefore can’t do it as good as Jesus.

I don’t think so…He said we would do more.

I think the reason is that we don’t believe Him.  We don’t believe He was serious in the Sermon on the Mount or that Kingdom of Heaven is here (and we are it’s citizens), or that His return is eminent.  Argue if you must, but if your doctor (who graduated from Harvard medical school and was the President’s personal physician) said, “eat one more donut and you will die,” you would probably never go near a Krispy Kreme in your life.  Just saying…

Daily Suicide

Posted: October 7, 2010 in Discipleship

Following Jesus, or more accurately, being His disciple is an amazingly difficult thing to define.  It seems that every pastor, preacher, or theologian has a different definition.  I’m not much smarter than a 5th grader, so I’m confident well-meaning people will find holes in my theology and exegesis, but I’m going to confidently lay down what I believe Jesus is saying in Matthew 16:24-26.

On this side of those verses, nearly 2000 years later, we hear the word “Cross” and see it as a religious symbol, jewelry, link it to Jesus, and often speak of it with ignorant passion.

When Jesus said, “and take up his cross and follow me,” nobody in His audience was thinking any of those things.  They were thinking tortuous killing device and that’s it.  They knew it meant you were going to die, it was a sure thing, and if you picked up a cross you were going to be essentially committing suicide.

If you do this painful, tortuous process, daily…what’s the point?

I think it’s somewhat simple in theory, incredibly difficult in practice.  The instructions Jesus is giving to a serious disciples is to kill our desires, grasp what Jesus’ will is for our life, and start living as a new creation.  Anything less and we will err on the side of fulfilling our fleshly desires, follow the “other master” (money), and then get to end of our life scrambling to find something with enough value to buy back our corrupted soul.

Being a disciple isn’t injuring our desires, goals, and wants it’s killing them.