Why You Can’t Add Jesus To Your Life

Christian SufferingThe Night Jesus Came To Eva

I just read an amazing story from Eric Metaxas‘s excellent book Miracles. It’s a story about a woman named Eva Meyer, the daughter of a brilliant physicist, Dr. C.J. Meyer. Dr. Meyer was as gentle as he was brilliant and a loving father, but unfortunately his other daughter, Eva’s sister, didn’t take after him or her mother.

In the early 1990s Eva was given her sister’s infant daughter to care for, and later, her infant son as well. Eva raised them as her own for four years. She also did her best to protect them from the destructive lifestyle of their parents’ who were ensnared in substance abuse. Eva’s sister would spontaneously take them away from time to time, but Eva had no custody rights to the children and was helpless in the situation.

About ten years passed. Eva’s sister was living in Seattle and now had six children. The oldest of them was ten. Eva’s sister said she wanted to pay Eva a visit and flew out to her home in Connecticut for Christmas. But what she really wanted Continue reading

Who Did He Think He Was?

Mercy

Who Did He Think He Was?

I heard this story recently about a guy who ran a construction company. He was very successful and not surprisingly, he was industrious too. And when he drove he was often on his way to do something important.

Now this man is a Christian and, from what I understand, a guy you would probably describe as mild mannered if you talked with him face to face. But, if another driver did anything to slow him down when he was on the road, he would lose his composure. Bad drivers made him angry.

Then this man, the one with the anger, was diagnosed with cancer. And with the cancer came the treatments.

Well one day Continue reading

The 1 Thing God Wants You To Do (To Reveal Him To The World)

Love one another

God Uses People

Before we get to the one thing, I just want to establish that God uses people. He always has in the past and He still does today. God uses people to reveal Himself to the world. There are exceptions, like the time he led the Israelites with the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night (3,500 years or so ago). But it’s people He uses, most of the time, to reveal Himself to the world. Even a casual reading of just a few chapters of scripture affirms this.

Are You A Christian?

Are you a Christian?

If you are, then God wants to use you. He wants to use you to reveal Himself to the world, and He wants you to do one thing in particular. And here’s the one thing: He wants you to love other Christians.

And here’s how we know that to be true: Just before Jesus was about to be taken away and executed by the government, he gave us what he called “a new commandment.” He commanded us to love one another. And then he said plainly,

“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

By this all people will know you are Jesus’ disciple, by your love for other disciples of Christ, by your love for other Christians. This is how God wants people to recognize us as Christians. This is how God wants to attract people to Christ. Love that’s noticeable to people. By this we will be known.

Or will we?

What are we known for?

What are you known for?

What am I known for?

As I write this I have to ask myself, “What have I done to love another Christian recently?”

Doing Something Different

I want to confess something to you. I fear I’m the man who buried his talent.

In Matthew 25 Jesus tells the parable about the master who gave his servants talents. To one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one. He left on a journey and when he returned, two of the servants were rewarded for investing their talents. One servant was too afraid to take the initiative, to venture out, and to invest his one talent–so he buried it. (Matthew 25:14-30)

What I’ve never heard anyone talk about is that it took courage for those other two servants to invest those talents. There was real risk involved. What if when the master returned, they were broke?

The one who buried his talent was afraid. He was afraid the investment would fail. He was afraid to take a loss. So he took what was given to him by his Master, and he buried it. Like that man, I’m afraid. I’m afraid to love other Christians. I’m afraid I’ll make a mistake. I’m afraid of rejection. I’m afraid I’ll look foolish. I’m afraid of the costs associated with loving. Loving costs time and energy. Loving others can cost money.

But even though there was risk involved for the other two servants, the ones who invested their talents. Even though it was possible their investments could have failed: they invested anyway.

If we don’t want to be like the man who buried his talent, we have to do better. And doing better means doing differently. You and I, we need to invest our love, in spite of the risks. We need to love other people, and other Christians in particular, or we’ll be just like that man who buried his talent.

God said to the two who invested in spite of the risks, “Well done good and faithful servant.” But He said something different to the one who didn’t invest because he was afraid. He called him, “wicked” and “slothful.”

For me at least, I so want to hear those words from the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, “Well done good and faithful servant.”

For me at least, it’s time for change.

I hope you’ll join me.

Pray with me: “Father, Jesus said it plainly, that we’ll be known for our love for one another. Please give us Your Holy Spirit in abundant measure to change us. Make us a people who love each other in such a way that we’re known as Jesus’ disciples because of it. In Jesus name, amen.”

The Parable of the Talents

“For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’”

–Jesus Christ, Matthew 25:14-30

References:

Bible Gateway

Francis and Lisa Chan, You and Me Forever, Claire Love Publishing, 2014

Image via wilB – Creative Commons

The One Thing You Can Do To Give Life To Your Prayers

The One Thing You Can Do To Give Life To Your PrayersThe one thing you can do is at the end of this post. It’s worth it, I promise. If you do it, it will change your life.

Taunts From An Atheist About Praying In Jesus’ Name

I have this friend who’s nearly an atheist. What I mean is, he’s the most atheistic leaning agnostic I know. And around the fire station he sometimes loved to taunt Christians. One time he said to me, (in the snarkiest tone possible), “So the bible says if you ask for anything in Jesus’ name that he’ll give it to you. Right? So ask for a Mercedes Benz tonight. And see if it’s in your driveway when you wake up tomorrow morning.”

In Jesus’ Name: What That Means

Now there’s an obvious answer to that taunt. Asking in Jesus’ name Continue reading

How One Mistake On Twitter Destroyed A Woman’s Life (And what we can learn from it)

This one mistake on Twitter destroyed a woman's lifeMorbid Fascination

Last night (at the time of this writing) I read this very insightful article in the New York Times. I was so morbidly fascinated I just couldn’t put it down. It was about a woman traveling from New York to South Africa to visit family. While she was on a layover in London, she sent out a tweet. This tweet of hers, it was an awkward attempt at humor. But it had to do with AIDS and race–and it was definitely more awkward than it was humorous.

After she sent this tweet she checked for a response but there was none. She only had around 170 Twitter followers, so that’s not too surprising. But what happened next was very surprising.

During the eleven hours she was in the air between London and Cape Town, South Africa, a writer and editor of a blog with 15,000 Twitter followers got wind of her tweet. So he posted it on the blog he edits, and this began a chain of events the woman never anticipated. Continue reading

How Ken Hutcherson Hated

Born Into A World Of Enemies

Ken Hutcherson was born eight days after his mother’s fifteenth birthday in Anniston, Alabama. The year was 1952. His grandmother, who Ken called “Big Mom,” was the true mother figure in his life. Ken says his biological mother was more like a sister to him. His father lived on the “right side of the tracks” and wasn’t involved in Ken’s life. He was an illegitimate black child in a world that looked down on blacks. And even other blacks looked down on illegitimate blacks.

Ken’s Role Model (Not The Role Model You Were Expecting)

With his grandmother as his only source of stability, one of Ken’s role models was the person who lived next door. This person ran the “local liquor house.” This role model was distinguished by a long scar that ran across the right side of the neck. This person didn’t take any flack from the liquor store patrons or from anybody else. According to Ken Hutcherson this person was the toughest person he ever knew.

This person was Ken’s Aunt Mae.

The cause of the scar was a woman named Essie Mae who lived across the street. Aunt Mae was having an affair Continue reading

The Control Freak And Jesus

Control Freak

There’s This Thirty-Something

There’s this thirty-something in my life who is always asking me these great questions about the Bible: provocative questions, hard questions, but very interesting questions. And it’s caused me to look at the Bible differently. I read and hear so much about how the Bible is restrictive. But this person with the questions has got me thinking about the freedom God has given us. Freedom to make our own choices. Have you ever considered what’s not illegal in the Old Testament? For instance, prostitution is not illegal in the Old Testament, and neither is polygamy. I’m not saying that either of those are good, I’m just saying neither of those is illegal in the civic code given to Israel in the Old Testament. People are free to engage in these activities without legal repercussions, though the spiritual ramifications and life consequences are still there.

God is radical when it comes to our freedom. He wants us to have the freedom to do what we want, even when it’s wrong. And it’s really made me look at my own ideas about what God wants me to do concerning the behavior of others. Because sometimes I want other people to do what I want them to do, and I can get frustrated when they don’t.

Maybe you’ve been there. Maybe you are there. Maybe you want to spend money a certain way but your wife wants to do it her way. Or maybe you want more time to recreate with the guys, but she has other ideas. Or maybe it’s just deciding what to do for dinner (not that this question would ever result in a disagreement). Whatever it is, our perspective changes when we Continue reading

Fame vs. Greatness

I was on Russell Okung’s Twitter site today (Okung plays left tackle for the Seattle Seahawks) and came across this from Tera Carissa Hodges.

God told Abraham I will make your name GREAT, while in Matthew 4, satan didn’t offer Jesus greatness, he offered Him fame.

You know, I just never thought about it that way, but it’s true. What a difference there is between fame and greatness. And it just struck me. It struck me as one of the most on target statements I’ve heard in a long time. It’s on target for a culture that craves fame.

Jesus didn’t seek fame. Many times after a miracle he gave strict instructions to the person healed, not to tell anyone. He lost many followers when he gave his teaching on eating his body, the bread of life, and drinking his blood. (Mark 7:36, Matthew 8:4John Chapter 6)

Jesus’ focus was on loving his Father and loving people. And Jesus’ priority was pleasing his Father, without regard for the opinions of people, and without regard for fame.

And he was truly great. The greatest we’ll ever see.

A dispute arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. Luke 22:24-27

Extreme Forgiveness

forgive

Tunnel 13

A thirty-something friend of mine, Harold Cunningham, recently asked me about a problem he had. He shared this in confidence but after he told me what he did, I found it to be so radical, I asked his permission to write about it. Continue reading

Love Like Jesus–Don’t Give ‘Til It Hurts (and what that has to do with your inner circle)

give till it hurts

Inner Circle

Loving and Giving Until It Hurts

Carol is a single mother with a heart as big as the moon. She loves strays of all kinds: stray dogs, stray cats, stray iguanas (today she informed me there’s a local herpetological society that will contribute toward your care of a stray iguana). She also loves stray people. But early in life she thought she could help a stray person who was struggling. She was sure that with enough love she could bring out the good person she knew lived inside him. She loved him, and loved, him, and loved him. But no matter how much love she gave, she couldn’t compete with his addiction. He spent his money (and hers) on his habit. He neglected her. He neglected his job. He neglected his kids. Finally he left. Not to be deterred, she found another stray. Surely with enough love she would turn this person around. But the pattern repeated until he finally left too. Now and again she would surround herself with several stray people at a time, each one was in a dark place, and that too sent her life into a destructive spin.

So she asked me today, How does this work? We’re supposed to love people like Jesus loved people, but how do we do that without our good efforts deteriorating into something self destructive? Continue reading