Posts Tagged ‘following Jesus’

Twitter-God

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

A lot of people think that connecting with God is like connecting with someone through Facebook. You do a search and find God’s Facebook page. Then request Him as a friend. Facebook sends God an email asking Him whether or not He’ll accept you or not. You presume that He will. But you don’t know. He might block you and you’re never really sure if he’s going to block you or not.

God’s not like Facebook. He’s more like Twitter. You find his Twitter page and start following Him. There’s no waiting for approval. We automatically start hearing from Him as He sends out tweets. He Tweets regularly through the Bible and the Holy Spirit. He’s always communicating, always sharing. We can log on and read His tweets or ignore them.

That’s the way most people treat twitter and the way most people treat God. We log on when we’re bored. Check out what’s going on. Or we just tweet incessantly and ignore what everyone else is saying. We talk at God and call it prayer but don’t take time to listen to Him and hear what He has to say. Like Twitter, to really appreciate God you’ve got to take some time to stop tweeting and start reading, stop talking and start listening.

Take some time today and make a point to listen to God. He’s got a lot to say to you.

A-Bombs, H-Bombs and F-Bombs

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

Several months ago, I was enjoying the hospitality of a local coffee house late into the evening as I finished up a paper for school. On this night I had forgotten my ear-buds so I was able to hear the conversations around me much more clearly than usual. Something about what I heard was particularly shocking to me. I’m used to hearing teenagers spew profanities like a drunk sailor, in an adolescent attempt to sound more adult. That didn’t shock me. I was incredibly surprised by the same type of language being spoken by adults. I kind of thought that somewhere in your mid-twenties you grew out of that realizing how stupid you sound by limiting your vocabulary so drastically. I was obviously wrong.

Then it hit me. No, this is not a post about the moral depravity of our society. I’m not going to jump up on a soap box and extol the virtues of clean language. For me, the problem wasn’t the language, although I do think there are more intelligent ways to communicate.

It hit me, why am I shocked by this language when no one around me seems to be? My life is incredibly cloistered. I spend most of time around Christ-followers. This is not a good situation in which to be. What good is salt in a salt mine? What good is light in a well-lit room (Matthew 5:13-15)?
Since then, I’ve tried to be more conscientious about how I choose to spend my time. It’s been hard. Launching a ministry that helps churches (insert shameless plug for Jericho Ministry Solutions). My target market is leaders in the Christian community, most of whom spend the least amount of time among people that are not Christ-followers. Yet as a member of the Michigan Air National Guard, I’ve had several opportunities to get out of my normal community and routine. In those times I’ve had several opportunities to be salt and light and share Jesus. I’ve also failed many times and been an a … er … jerk ☺. In spite of my failings however, in those times I’ve felt closer and more useful to God.

If you find yourself in a similar situation… if you find yourself spending a lot of time in salty well-lit areas, let me encourage you now. Break the routine. Leave the comfort of the familiar and go be who God intended you to be.

By the way, have you ever thought about the fact that salt in large amounts is poison? Or, that light in large amounts is blinding? Just sayin.

I Can’t Keep Quiet

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

I got a bad case of laryngitis yesterday. In a sick way I was kind of happy about it. I was looking forward to blogging about all the great spiritual insights I gained by spending a day unable to talk. I wanted to have a cool, deep, spiritual post like the ones I often read. The only thing I learned is that I can’t keep quiet. Even without a voice I had to talk.

Yet for me, that is a spiritual insight. I admire the people that have great spiritual depth. I admire the people that have stories of deep spiritual experiences. I admire the people that can spend hours in silence alone with God and learn deep fascinating things.

But I’m not one of those people. My experience with God will never be like theirs. Nor should it. I need to focus on growing closer to God by accepting and embracing who I am. I am a communicator and I need people. I need to connect with people. I see God in my interactions with others. I see God in people. I see God in his image that he has placed in others.

I don’t know how you best connect with God. I don’t know when it is that you see him but remember, you are uniquely created in the image of God and however you connect with God is the right way for you. Embrace it. Enjoy it. Become all that God has created you to be through that connection.

Where do you most often see God?

The Most Christian Thing You Can Do is Go to a Party.

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

Yesterday I attended a birthday party with my 4-year-old daughter for one of her friends. Now, anyone who knows me knows that parties are not my thing. I’m naturally an introvert so even the idea of a bunch people crammed into a small space is exhausting. In fact while I consider the birthday-boy’s mom a friend and I like being Uncle Bryon to the young man, the main reason I attended was because my wife was feeling under the weather and not up to taking our daughter to the party.

Today as I look back on the events of yesterday and my response to the party, I’ve got to confess I’m a little ashamed. All the people at that party are people of infinite value to God but for the most part I didn’t see that. They were just people sharing the same space with me. My focus was 100% on my daughter and I didn’t even attempt to engage anyone in a real conversation. I didn’t treat them with the dignity that they deserve as people created in the image of God.

To be a Christian isn’t merely intellectual assent to a set of propositions (although those propositions and assent to them both have value). A Christian is one who follows Christ; one who longs to be closer to him and be more like him. A cursory reading of the gospels will show that Jesus loved a good party. He never missed a chance to spend time with people, because he saw their infinite value.

Now, I’ll always be an introvert. That is who God created me to be. I’ll never be the life of the party. Those are things that I cannot control. However, I can control how I interact with people at parties. I can control whether or not I show them God’s love or not. The next time I attend a party, I pray that people see someone who values them for who they are rather than someone in a hurry to leave.

The Importance of Community in Church

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

In John 13:35 Jesus said that people would know we were Christ-followers by our love for one another. The funny thing about that is; the only way people we see us love one another is if we actually well… love one another. This is something that can’t be done in a large weekend gathering. It can only be done in the context of real relationships. It requires that we get into each other’s lives and share our triumphs and our failures. Unfortunately, churches aren’t really known as places to form relationships and develop friendships. In fact, most people that I’ve met feel that they’re more likely to find good friends at the local bar than at church.

This is the third wall that keeps us from being the church that God intends. We need to knock down this wall be creating an atmosphere where true community, true love can thrive. We need to lead our churches to love one another. This is not as easy as it sounds. It’s more than launching a cool Small Group program that gets a lot of people to study the Bible together. It requires a strategy that will encourage people to break down their own walls of insecurity and doubt and be real with each other. It requires a plan, hard work and patience.

What are you doing to develop this kind of community in your church? For more help in creating this structure, contact Jericho Ministry Solutions.

The CALL to Leadership (Care Relentlessly)

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

I recently heard about a communications company, Cbeyond, that lays out their character statement on their website. It is the acronym CALL; Care Relentlessly, Act Graciously, Lead Courageously, and Learn Continuously. Those same characteristics should be applied to all leaders. In particular they should apply to leaders that are also followers of Christ. Over the next several weeks we’ll talk about each of those characteristics in turn.

First, and I think most important of all of these characteristics is Care Relentlessly. As leaders, we must care about the people we are leading. Otherwise, we’re not leading we’re manipulating. I’ve been in many conversations regarding the characteristics of leadership in which we’ve tried to define leadership. In those conversations we often stumbled over the difference between strong leadership and manipulation. This, I think, is the difference. If you’re just using people to accomplish a vision (no matter how noble) and you don’t care about them as individuals, you’re not a leader. You’re a manipulator. And to be honest, I’ve been there more often than I care to admit. I’ve found myself manipulating rather than leading because I didn’t care about the people following me I just cared about the mission, the vision.

Yet, this does not reflect God at all. Every action of God recorded in Scripture is grounded in some way in his care for us. He loves us so much that He sent Jesus to dies for us. Because He cares for us He providentially holds all things together. If we are going to be godly leaders and not worldly manipulators we must Care Relentlessly.

What do you think? Do leaders need to Care Relentlessly to truly lead or am I hopelessly naïve?

The Distance Between You and God

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

For the sake of clarity, I’m going to share one of my theological presuppositions.  I believe that the moment a person trusts Christ all their sins are forgiven, even the ones they haven’t committed yet.  I know not everyone agrees with that statement.  If you’d like to discuss it further feel free to comment below, but that is the presupposition that this series of posts will be built upon.

Often I have been asked if that is true, what happens when Christ-followers sin?  There are two things that do not happen.  (1) They are not rejected by God.  (2) They do not lose their place in heaven.  Therefore, when Christ-followers sin they have not lost the relationship with God that they received when they trusted Christ.

They’ve disappointed God and created relational distance between themselves and God.  You’ve experienced this in relationships with people.  Think of a time when you disappointed or hurt someone close to you, your husband or wife, your boyfriend or girlfriend, your parents, your children, or maybe just a close friend.  Think back to how you felt at that time.  Remember the pain and discomfort you experienced.  That is relational distance.  That is what happens to Christ-followers when they sin.

For some of you, that relational distance was never overcome.  For some of you, that relationship ended and the pain is still there.  I want you to know, I am truly sorry about that.  I’m sorry for the loss and the pain that you’ve experienced.  Yet, I also want you to know that will never happen with God.  Jesus has promised to never leave you (Matthew 28:20).  Jesus has promised that no one will ever pull you out of God’s hand (John 10:28-29).

In the next several posts we’re going to talk about what to do to overcome that experience of relational distance with God.  We’re going to look at Psalm 51.  It is a prayer that King David of Israel prayed after he had sinned by sleeping with another man’s wife, getting her pregnant and then killing the man to cover up what he’d done.  If you haven’t read Psalm 51 in a while check it out on YouVersion.  And if you want to read the story about David it’s in 2 Samuel 10 – 11.

Before we get into what Scripture says, however, what are the steps that you use when trying to restore broken relationships?

Christmas Characters Part 1

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

As we head into Christmas, I thought we should spend a little time talking about the Christmas event. So for the next two weeks of posts, we’re going to look at some of the people that experienced that first Christmas and try to learn from them. Today let’s look at Jesus’ adopted father, Joseph.
Not much is known about Joseph. His story takes up very little space in Scripture. Mathew is the only New Testament author that tells his story. (Luke tells the story from Mary’s perspective. Mark starts his gospel when Jesus is older. John doesn’t discuss Jesus’ human parents.)

Joseph, Matthew says, was a righteous man. That, by the way, is probably the best commentary possible of one’s life. Joseph, the righteous man, chooses to endure the scorn and ridicule of marrying a woman that everyone suspected was unfaithful to him because God said so.

Can you imagine how difficult that had to be for Joseph? That certainly wasn’t at all what he expected. This was not the life that Joseph planned. Yet, Joseph was a righteous man. He obeyed God and endured the hardship and embarrassment of marrying a woman that people would always suspect had cheated on him, for the sake of God’s plan.

We all have to endure things that don’t fit in our plan. It could be the loss of a job, the loss of a marriage, the loss of a child the loss of a friend. I don’t know what you’re enduring right now. But, Joseph, the righteous man, shows us that we can endure it. Joseph’s endurance allowed him to be the man that raised God’s Son. As you prepare for Christmas, think about that. Think about what God might be doing through the experience that you’re enduring. And, lean on him.

Christmas is over

Friday, December 26th, 2008

One of my favorite Christmas traditions is attending Midnight Mass. I’m not Roman Catholic. I think that’s one of the reasons that Midnight Mass is such a great experience fro me. It takes me out of my comfort zone (although I only missed on step in the dance this year). It forces me to think about God in new ways. Since Roman Catholic Mass is so different from the church in which I serve, it keeps me from playing the comparison game too. It allows me to focus on worshipping God without any distractions. Every year it recharges me. It refocuses me. It is one of the most important Christmas triaditions for me spiritually.

This year in particular was a great experience. The focus of the Mass was on Jesus being born in our hearts. That is beautiful language and a beautiful metaphor for Christmas. Birth is a beginning. It’s a start. It’s a genesis. That is what Christmas should be for us. Too often I feel like Christmas is an event. We read Luke chapter 2. We exchange gifts. We give a special offering to the church or our favorite charity. Then it’s over. The event has ended. For a lot of people this leads to a post Christmas low. A friend of mine on Facebook called it post-partum “Christmas blues.”

But Christmas shouldn’t be an event. It should be a starting point. It should be a chance for Jesus to be reborn in our hearts. (Don’t give me a hard time on the theology there, it’s a metaphor!) That is what Midnight Mass did for me. It was the beginning of the next season of life and of ministry for me. Christmas isn’t over. It isn’t an event that ends. It’s a starting point that leads us to a deeper relationship with God. It leads us to grow closer to him. It leads us to follow him more completely. Don’t let Christmas end for you. Make it a new beginning where you commit your life more fully to following Jesus as God and King.

Penn on evangelism

Friday, December 19th, 2008

If you haven’t seen Penn talk about proselytizing, you need to. This should be very encouraging and convicting to anyone who says they are a Christ-follower. It’s one thing to hear a pastor say stuff like this. It’s totally different when you hear it from an atheist that doesn’t have a problem making fun of Jesus or his followers.