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 see the enormous respect Jesus demonstrated for the free will of others.

How Jesus Loved People: He Asked

“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked the blind man sitting by the road near Jericho. (Luke 18:38-41)

“Do you want to get well?” Jesus asked the invalid at the pool of Bethesda. (John 5:6)

“Shall I come to heal him?” Jesus asked the centurion with the paralyzed servant. (Matthew 8:7)

“Will you give me a drink?” Jesus asked the Samaritan woman at the well. (John 4:7)

He asked. He asked people what it was that they wanted, or even if they wanted. He left the choice up to them.

He Let People Choose

Ever notice that Jesus never went out looking for individual Pharisees to engage? Nicodemus had to come to Jesus. (John 3:1-21)

And then there’s the guy driving demons out in Jesus’ name: “Master,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us.”

“Do not stop him,” Jesus said. (Luke 9:50)

And there’s the synagogue official who told the people not to come on the Sabbath to be healed. But Jesus said, No! Let them come! (Luke 13:14-17)

Even his own disciples tried to constrain the will of certain people. They refused to let the little children come to Jesus. And when Jesus saw this, he was indignant. No! He said, Let them come! (Mark 10:14)

Finally there’s Judas objecting to Mary pouring her perfume out onto Jesus’ feet. How did Jesus respond? He said, Leave her alone! (John 12:3-7)

Even when it broke cultural convention, Jesus let people do what they wanted to.

Even Hostile People Were Given The Freedom To Choose

When the prodigal son (adult son) demanded his inheritance his tone was more bitter and cold toward his father than most people realize. In that culture, in that time, when a son demanded his inheritance in that way, what he was saying to his father was, “I wish you were dead. You’re being alive, your very existence, is getting in the way of my inheritance.” But what does the father, who represents God in the parable, what does he do? Amazingly, he lets the prodigal do what he wishes. (Luke 15:11-32)

How To Love Like Jesus

There are exceptions of course. With a stern countenance Jesus imposed his will on the demons he cast out of people. (Luke 4:35) And when Peter cut off an ear with his sword Jesus said, “No more of this!” (Luke 22:51) Nevertheless the general pattern we see from Jesus is to allow people to do as they wish. Even when Judas came to betray him Jesus didn’t try to talk him out of it. He simply said, “Do what you came for, friend.” (Matthew 26:50)

So for me, and for you, to love like Jesus, we need to rethink our expectations of others. Jesus demonstrated a radical respect for the freedom of others to choose to do what they want to do. To love like Jesus we also have to show that same radical respect for people’s freedom.

Jesus did.

You can too.

After he finished a parable or a teaching Jesus would often say, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” (Luke 8:8) In other words, Whoever hears hears, and whoever doesn’t hear doesn’t hear.

The choice is yours.

[Image via Matthijs - Creative Commons]

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

2013’s Most Popular Posts on God Running

What a blessing it has been to write for our Father in 2013. I thank Him for the privilege, and I thank you for reading and for your support. I’m also excited about what’s coming in 2014, but more on that later. Below you’ll find 10 of the most popular posts of 2013, on God Running.

2013 most popular God Running1) The Holy Spirit: How to Know if You Have Him

By far our most popular post in 2013. This article shows how you can know for certain you will receive God’s Holy Spirit baptism. Look for the book by the same title to come out in 2014.

2) The 5th Day of Creation–The Holy Spirit and Bearing Fruit

God’s Holy Spirit is also the topic of our second most popular post in 2013. This post explores God’s creation of marine life as it relates to bearing fruit by the Holy Spirit. It includes some surprising findings from the Census of Marine Life project, a ten year study with the mission of finding new species. You’ll see how scientists concede they grossly underestimated the quantity of diversity of marine life in the ocean. The rate at which the Census of Marine Life project has discovered new species is amazing. What does that have to do with God’s Holy Spirit? Read the post and find out.

3) Both of Lot’s Daughters Became Pregnant by Their Father

If you want to stay in your comfort zone, don’t read this post. Continue reading

Love Like Jesus–Love the Unlovable

Love Like Jesus -- Socialize with Sinners Influence

(One of our most popular posts–from the archives)

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?”

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 2:16-17


How Jesus Loved People

Jesus loved people by spending time with them, in spite of their sinful lifestyle.


How to Love Like Jesus

There’s a blog I follow called Not Ashamed Of The GospelNot long ago, they posted a three part series about a ministry which reaches out to sex industry employees. I couldn’t help but notice there weren’t many comments offered on the last post in the series, An Insider’s Look — “Awkward!” I think for most people, that post was just too hot to handle.

Finally, one person posted and as best as I could tell he used scripture to infer this post about the sex industry ministry was an example of ungodly men perverting the grace of God.

I couldn’t help myself. I had to comment.

Continue reading

A Time to Die

Die to self Christian

It’s Time to Die

The last post was about how important it is not to die indiscriminately. In other words the last post was for people who can’t say no, as you might gather from the title: How Not to Become a Christian Doormat.

This post is probably more important and for a greater number because this post is for all of us who don’t want to die. And at some point everyone of us will have to. I’m not talking about the physical death of our bodies necessarily, but rather the time when the Holy Spirit will tell you, “Yes, it’s time. It’s your time to die now. It’s your time to submit to My will and not your own.”

You and I and every single one of us will encounter God in that way. Every single one of us will be called upon by God to die, and frequently.

Frequently because we’re commanded to love, and love so often demands that we die to our own will. And there are all kinds of ways to do that, there are all kinds of ways to die. You might be called to die by allowing that guy at work to take the choice assignment, or by agreeing to your wife buying a new pair of shoes, or even by simply turning off the TV and engaging with the kids.

Or, it could be something much harder.

A Tale of Two Fathers Continue reading

Love Like Jesus–Jesus and Competition

Jesus and Competition Love Like Jesus

Competition

Baseball Player Lines

The World Series is happening right now and it reminds me of a story I once heard from a Fire Chief named Dennis Compton. Like me, Dennis is a Cubs fan. (Please pray for us, and for the Cubbies as well.) And one year he was excited and filled with hope, because the Cubs had this hot new player named Rafael Palmeiro. Palmeiro had just finished a close second to Tony Gwynn in the National League batting champion race, and it looked like his potential was off the chart. So what do the Cubs do? They trade him to the Texas Rangers. Well Compton was so upset about it, he telephoned the Cubs’ sports psychologist, who happened to be a friend of his, and invited him to lunch so he could find out just what in the world the Cubs’ management was thinking.

This sports psychologist had an interesting way of explaining the situation. He drew these lines on a piece of paper. Then he explained Continue reading

An Open Letter to Christian Type A Men

Christian time management Type A Personality Love Like JesusDear Type A Man,

It’s better to do less and reflect the nature of Christ, than it is to accomplish more in an un-Christlike manner.

I know what you’re thinking: “What about the fruit? Isn’t it important to bear fruit? The bible says to bear fruit!”

True, the bible does say to bear fruit. But Continue reading

Jeffrey Wright Loves Like Jesus

This guy is a great example of someone who loves like Jesus! You’ll want to watch until the video covers how he loves his own son–he sets an especially amazing example there.

Wright’s Law, Jeffrey Wright loves like Jesus

Jeffrey Wright is one of the craziest teachers I have ever heard of. His antics in his high school physics class include lighting his hand on fire (on purpose), sending students on a homemade hovercraft ride (without steering), and blowing up a pumpkin (in the classroom). As one student said, “He is exploding with fun!” His students are never bored, even those who normally fall asleep in the rest of their classes. He also has a heart to help kids from disadvantaged backgrounds: Students who cover their bruises with make up because they’re taking beatings at home from their dad. Students who are pregnant. Students without a mom or dad in the home. He’s amazing. As one person put it, “Mr. Wright has the keys to the city!”

Jeffrey Wright loves his students. But he loves his son Adam even more. When Adam Continue reading

Love Like Jesus–A Quarterback for Christ Responds to an “Accuser”

criticism accusation love like JesusDavid Ducked

David was just a kid, but he was on a roll. He was a rookie in Israel’s military but performing like a superstar. Every time he went out on a campaign he lit it up. The army grunts loved him, the officers loved him, the people loved him–he captured the imagination of the nation. If Twitter were around in those days the top trending hashtag would have been #David.

He was an amazing man, David. And multi-talented too, because not only was he Israel’s superstar warrior, but he was also one of their best musicians. Sometimes king Saul would have him play at the palace, performing a private concert just for him. But Saul wasn’t well. He was sometimes overcome with a spirit of evil intent toward David, born of envy. One of those times he picked up his spear and threw it at David, in an attempt to pin him against the wall and kill him. David responded by eluding Saul’s spear and fleeing. Then it happened again, and again David didn’t retaliate but, simply evaded Saul’s spear and fled. David would not raise his hand against Saul for anything. (1 Samuel 18)

How Jesus Loved People

Speaking of Jesus, Matthew 27 says,

When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer. Then Pilate asked him, “Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?” But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge—to the great amazement of the governor. (Matthew 27:12-14)

So Jesus is under fire. The religious leadership of his day is cranking out false accusations like only politicians can. And they’re the government, so there are consequences, serious consequences. And the way Jesus handles it is to say nothing in response. He doesn’t defend himself, not even against one single false charge.

An NFL Quarterback, a Fire Chief, and a Pastor

A friend who used to work security in a football stadium told me about this encounter he saw between a Chicago Bears’ quarterback and a homeless guy. Continue reading

Love Like Jesus–How Jesus Loved Judas to the Very End

Suspicion, by leafhopper77 – Creative Commons

Don’t Mess With Me!

When I was new to the position of Captain there was this older more senior firefighter on the same shift. He hadn’t made Captain yet, and he liked to take shots at me. I handled it either by ignoring him or by simply taking his digs good-naturedly. Until one day, a well meaning supervisor shared that he was concerned I didn’t realize this older firefighter was putting me down.

Man, did that ever mess with my head.

Instead of giving the older firefighter the benefit of the doubt, Continue reading