Category Archives: Faith

The Great Commission: Less Big Event More Everyday Life

What if the fulfillment of the Great Commission is less about a series of big events and more about how we live every day? I have been thinking about this lately and the following graphic came out of this thinking. This graphic shows a general strategy more than a specific plan.

What do you think? Is there anything that should be added or taken away? I would love to hear from you.

Click the Image to Enlarge it

I will probably change it to say “Great Commission Change Happens Here” as opposed to Stories.

 

It’s All Connected

Over the weekend I watched several videos produced by Dr. Mark Hyman, a practicing functional medicine doctor. A doctor who practices functional medicine looks for root causes of health issues as opposed to treating conditions or symptoms. Watch the series for a better definition of functional medicine.

The series is called Broke Brain. The summary of the series at this point is that the health of the human gut is directly connected to the health of the human brain. When the gut isn’t healthy the brain isn’t healthy and that brings about an onslaught of issues for the human body. It is a great series and I am definitely only skimming the surface with my description here.

I wanted to write about the series because they (The doctors being interviewed) talk a lot about the interconnectedness of the human person. The connection between the mind, body, spirit, and community. The doctors talk about the importance of all of these areas being healthy for the whole person to be healthy. If any one area is not taken care of it can cause a lot of negative effects in the other areas that are necessary for a complete and healthy person.

For example, If a person does not train their body and only focuses on training their mind and their spirit then that can and will have negative effects on the mind and the spirit. If a person never feels like reading or writing or praying because of an unhealthy body then all areas of the person suffer.

That got me to thinking about the overall health of the church in our country especially in the area of physical and spiritual health. The Broken Brain series says that we are a nation of physically unhealthy people. Like the unhealthiest we have ever been. We have some of the highest rates of depression, anxiety, and heart disease ever recorded. Our food and our inactivity is literally killing our bodies. It seems to me that that dying is killing our spiritual lives as well.

In 1 Timothy 4 Paul says “for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” This verse is often used for justification to not take care of the body. I have heard it quoted from time to time. “It’s only of “little” value so I will eat what I want and workout when I want because it is only of little value.”  Sounds reasonable. NA, not really! It’s sound lazy to me. The fact that Paul says it is of little value shows that there is importance to it.

It is kind of like the washer fluid in your car. If you neglect filling your washer fluid (or having the guy at the oil change shop fill it) you may be fine for a while. But then that day is going to come when your windshield is covered in dust, dirt, bugs, or bird poo from parking under a tree. On that day neglecting your wiper fluid will literally shut your car down. You can’t see. You can’t go.

Such is the same with the human body. You may be able to neglect it for a time. But the day will come where that neglect will literally shut you down. It may be limited mobility, lack of energy, hospitalization, or something else that shuts down your body but it is bound to happen. When that happens then your pursuit of godliness is also hindered too.

As Paul says in verse 4 “…godliness is profitable for all things.” Our pursuit in this life is godliness and we must be healthy in all areas that make up the person. I wonder if the overall health of the church is suffering because of the poor health of the human body?

Just my thoughts for the day. What do you think? I would love to hear from you.     

 

Does Jesus Need To Tell Us To Be Quiet?

Does Jesus need to tell us to be quiet?

I have taken a challenge to read the New Testament in 30 days. It requires that I read 8 chapters a day. This has been a challenge for sure but has also helped to connect some ideas from different areas of the New Testament. Especially in the Gospels.

As I read through the book of Mark I keep coming across a statement that Jesus makes after performing miracles. Here is one example:

Mark 7:36 “And Jesus charged them to tell no one. But the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it.” Other instances of this statement are Mark 5:43; 1:44.

I have read these statement by Jesus many times before and was always puzzled by them.  I had always understood this to mean that “His hour had not yet come” (John 2:4 Meaning it was not time for it to be revealed that He is the Messiah) and therefore they were not allowed to speak of Him yet. I believe that is true. But what I find so interesting is the fact that in Mark 7 they completely disobeyed him. The more he asked them to be quiet the more they told the news of what he has done.

Contrast that with the commandment that Christian’s have today, to “Go and make disciples” (Matthew 28:19). So many Christian’s today read that command and then do nothing with it. They tell no one about the greatness of God. They tell no one of the power of Jesus. They keep silent.

So does Jesus need to tell us to be quiet to make us speak? I don’t believe so. I believe the difference is in the encounter. In Mark 7 and 5 and 1 the ones who the miracles were performed for and those who saw it had a real encounter with the living God. Their excitement could not be contained.

I believe for Christian’s today we remain silent because we have not had an encounter with Jesus. Nothing has happened for the Christian that is worth speaking of. So we remain silent.

So it is not that Jesus needs to tell us to be quiet. It is that we need to truly encounter the living God. How do we encourage that? How do we help churched people meet with the living God?

I do not have answers to these questions.  It most certainly begins with prayer and then flows from there.

What do you believe?

The Faith To Ask. The Faith To Act. [Sermon]

A sermon from 2 Kings 2:19-22 19

“Then the men of the city said to Elisha, “Behold now, the situation of this city is pleasant, as my lord sees; but the water is bad and the land [h]is unfruitful.” 20 He said, “Bring me a new jar, and put salt in it.” So they brought it to him. 21 He went out to the spring of water and threw salt in it and said, “Thus says the Lord, ‘I have purified these waters; there shall not be from there death or unfruitfulness any longer.’” 22 So the waters have been purified to this day, according to the word of Elisha which he spoke.”

No Less Complete

For the last 18 months I have experienced a real darkening of the mind and spirit. A hopelessness that I cannot explain. It has left me with questions like, “Why am I here?” “What is my purpose?” What is all this for?”

These are questions that everyone struggles with from time to time I am sure. But I have been unable to shake these thoughts.  The conversation seems to always be “God what is all this for?”

As I walked this morning I decided to change my approach. Instead of identifying all the terrible things in life and in the world I decided to just thank God.

To thank God for Life. To thank God for family. To thank God for the earth to inhabit. To thank God for air to breath. In short,  just to be thankful.

The Lord spoke in that moment. He showed me that if he had not created the earth, or humanity, or animals, or plants, or the moon, or the stars, or the universe He would be no less complete.  He does not need his creation to make Himself whole.

As I thanked God and He spoke to me I realized He is the instigator in the relationship. He started all this and therefore He is the focus of life, and thanks, and praise, and honor. I did nothing and I can do nothing to make Him more. I can do nothing to make myself more appealing in His eyes.

He is complete in and of Himself and in order for me to be complete I must find that completeness and wholeness in Him!

 

 

Jesus Friend Of Sinners – The Wrong Pronouns

13 Once again Jesus went out beside the lake. A large crowd came to him, and he began to teach them. 14 As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him.

15 While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16 When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

17 On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Mark 2:13-17

How many times have you read this verse? Me? I’ve it a hundred times or more. Every time I read the verse I always use the pronoun THEM.  “Jesus ate with them (the sinners) and so should we.” “Jesus went them (the sinners) and so should we.” “Our mission is to reach them with the Gospel.”

Yesterday I had an eye opening experience. Reading this passage with the pronoun THEM or THEY really created an air of elitism.  I am better than them. I am so good in fact that Jesus doesn’t have to eat with me. Wait? That is where my eyes were opened. The THEM is actually ME. Jesus came to ME, the sinner.

If he didn’t come to me then I have no hope. If I have no hope of dining with Jesus then I have a greater problem.

Jesus, friend of sinners. Friend to you and friend to me.

Even though I am not tax collector I am a sinner (Probably much worse than being a tax collector). Jesus came to dine with me. Jesus came to share himself with me. He came to share himself with you too.

This eye opening experience came to me when I was reading a post be Ann Voskamp yesterday. In this post she talks about her summer of heart failure. It is a great story. Sad, difficult, but great. I recommend you read it. You will probably cry (fair warning).

Check it out here. When you Go into Heart Failure and it Turns out to be a Metaphor for All The Things Right Now

 

What is True Faith? 2 Illustrations 1 Step

Several years ago I worked with a gentleman who was trying to explain to me what his understanding of faith was.

He said, ”Richard, faith is like this. You walk up to a wide, fast flowing river. It is so wide and moving so fast that there is no way across it. But God has directed you to cross at that point in the river. So you pray, ‘God you told me to cross right here so give me some rocks to step on to get across this river.’” My friend continued, “When you have faith like that God will give you the rocks to step on and make it across where He directed you to.”

I thanked my friend for this illustration of faith. But I disagreed with him on one point. I still disagree with him on one point.

Faith is like walking up to a wide and fast moving river with no way across. You know God has directed you across this way but it seems impossible. So you pray,”God show me a rock to step on.” God responds with, “Take the step.” Again you say, “God show me a rock to step on.’ Again God says, “Take the step.”

This debate goes on and on until you realize that to be faithful; to have faith, you have to take the step. My point to my friend and my point to you is, faith is taking the step even when it seems like you will sink into the river and be swept away by the current.

Here it is. The payoff. The outcome of truly stepping in faith. As you step out in faith your foot catches a rock below the surface of the river. Yes your foot may get a little wet but you do not sink into the river. You aren’t swept away. God has you the whole time.

That is faith. Not in yourself but in God your creator. True faith.

Today, you may be facing a huge decision. God has directed you to take a step of faith, but you cannot see any rocks to step on. God asks you to step and God will provide a place for your foot to land.  

I challenge you with the thought. Where has God asked you to step out in faith but you are waiting for the path to be shown? How can you take that first step of faith?  

Stepping into a river with no place to stand seems crazy, especially to people in the world. Such is the case with decisions we are asked to make as followers of Christ. Sometimes, God asks us to do things that seem crazy to the world. We must obey.

I would love to hear what decisions you are facing. Start the conversation below.

While you are here, check out this weeks video:

 

WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU ARE DEPRESSED: 20 IDEAS

  1. Seek help. You cannot fight this alone.
  2. Don’t keep it a secret.
  3. Do something for someone else. Often, depression causes us to only focus on ourselves. Find a way to do something for someone else.
  4. Try to get the focus off of yourself. I know this is hard.
  5. Pray.
  6. Read your Bible.
  7. Pray some more.
  8. Go see your medical doctor.
  9. Pray some more. Do not give up.
  10. Find a friend you can trust. Talk to them.
  11. Exercise –  Take a 15 minute walk around the block first thing EVERY morning.
  12. Journal. Write down how you feel and why you feel that way. Try to keep track of the things that trigger your depression. If you are not a writer then draw.
  13. Talk to a counselor. It can help tremendously to just talk to someone about how you are feeling.
  14. Find a hobby. Take up something creative like painting, or photography. This will get you up and going.
  15. Set some goals. Depression can leave you hopeless. Write down some simple goals each day. Celebrate when you accomplish those goals each day.
  16. Write yourself a list of positive affirmations. Read them each day. Or better yet record them on your phone and listen to them each morning.
  17. Make and keep a routine. Depression causes us to check out. Create for yourself a routine and  stick with it. This can bring about a feeling of daily accomplishment that helps.
  18. Read some books. Read books that are positive and encouraging. Read books that teach you about your struggle.
  19. Pray without ceasing. Sometime it seems that God does not care when we are suffering. That is just not true. Keep seeking Him and you will find Him.
  20. Do a personal check and make sure there is no besetting sin in your life. Did you hurt someone that you need to apologize to? Are you involved in a secret sin that you struggle with? Search your soul. Often a hidden sin can be the cause of a deep depression. If the Holy Spirit identifies one in your life confess it and start the healing process.

These are some of the things that have helped me over that last several months. Feel free to comment some other ideas or let me know if I missed on some of these.
You are not alone in your fight against the darkness of depression. Join the conversation.  

This Weeks Message: