Go Measure the Heavens

Why is Christianity so restrictive

Bow Shock Around LL Orionis (spans trillions of kilometers) – Hubble Telescope Image

 

Go measure the heavens, go weigh the mountains on a scale, go take the ocean’s water and number each drop, go count the sand on the sea’s wide shore, and when you have accomplished this, you still won’t know how much God loves you. (Spurgeon)

 

[You might also like Why is Christianity So Restrictive]

References:

C.H. Spurgeon, Spurgeon’s Sermons on Jesus and the Holy Spirit, 2006, Hendrickson Publishers, p. 399

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

Love Like Jesus and a Plague of Flies of Biblical Proportions (Sort Of)

Love Like Jesus Day of small things

A Plague of Flies of Biblical Proportions (Sort Of)

Ah Friday. Friday is writing day around here, and it’s Friday at last. Friday is the one day of the week everyone is supposed to leave me alone,

to write.

So I rolled out of bed thinking I was headed for the laptop until enough fog cleared from my head, for me to remember, Kathy is out of town. She’s in Portland with a mom, two daughters, and a sister, doing some kind of a women’s thing. A spa thing, I think they said. I’m not sure what that entails but I think I heard the words “many petting” in there somewhere, so my thought is, it involves zoo animals somehow.

Anyway, that means I had to cover for Kathy at one of her jobs. Among her many other activities, she manages the pool and recreational facilities at our townhouse complex. (She’s always doing something productive or helpful.) So off I go to the pool. “No big deal,” I think to myself. “Just a quick chemical check, and I’m off to my office.” But when I arrived, I found a surprise. Continue reading

Slavery, Love, and the Garden of Eden–Genesis 2:8-9

Slavery Love Garden of Eden

(From the Archives…)

Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Genesis 2:8-9

The Garden

A little trivia to start: The Bible tells us that the land in which God’s garden is located is called Eden, however we are never actually given the name of the garden itself, only the name of the land in which it is located. But one thing’s for sure, the word Eden means delightful, and we do know from the Bible that without a doubt, whatever the name of the garden, God’s garden was a delightful place to live.

Notice that in the middle of His garden God puts both the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. “Why?” You may be asking. “Why include the forbidden tree, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, in the middle of the delightful garden? Why ruin a perfect place with a forbidden tree?” The answer is that God desired a meaningful relationship with Adam and Eve, and a meaningful relationship requires a choice.

Marriage and Slavery

Hadijatou Mani is a 24 year old woman from the Sahel region of Nigeria, on the Southern fringe of the Sahara. Hadijatou’s story is the story of someone who wasn’t given a choice. When she was just 12 years old she was sold to a man named Souleymane Naroua. When she was just 13 she was raped by her master and forced to bear his children. Continue reading

Love Like Jesus — Love With Loyalty: Matthew 12:1-2

Love Like Jesus LoyalAt that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, “Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.”  -Matthew 12:1-2


How Jesus Loved People

“Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath,” the Pharisees said. Jesus’ disciples were under attack. Continue reading

Love Like Jesus — Love the Lost Cause: John 5:1-8

Jesus Loves Lost Cause

Temple Grandin Presenting at TED Conference

Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”

“Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”

Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.

John 1:5-8

How Jesus Loved People

Jesus loved this man, even though anyone else would consider him a lost cause.

How to Love Like Jesus

I spoke with someone today who told me about a disabled man he once cared for in an adult foster home. The disabled man’s name is Daniel. Daniel is angry all the time, he can’t speak, or do much of anything to take care of himself. After working there for awhile my friend was surprised to learn, that up until five years previous, Daniel was happy, and could speak and communicate very well. But Continue reading

Love Like Jesus — Give Like Jesus: Luke 5:4-11

When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”

Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”

When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.

When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.

Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.

Luke 5:4-11


How Jesus Loved People

I love that story. Jesus was and is so generous. Jesus had the power to give – so He gave.

Jesus loved people by giving, materially.


How to Love Like Jesus

The last verse in our text says, “…they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.” So we see Jesus didn’t give indiscriminately. He just finished speaking to a crowd of people, and almost certainly there were those in the crowd who were in need, but Jesus didn’t give to them. He only gave to those who would respond by leaving everything, and following Him.

Do you think I use Jesus’ approach? Do you suppose when I give of myself, materially, or my time, or my energy, I do it to encourage people to follow Jesus? So often the answer is no! How I have erred on this point. Too frequently I give so people will follow me.

I think many of us give out of a desire to attract people to ourselves. We think to ourselves, “If I help him move, he’ll think I’m a good guy.” Or, “If I pick up the check, he’ll think I’m generous.” Or, “If I make a great dessert, they’ll think I’m a great cook.” It’s human nature to think this way.

But think this through with me: Everything you and I have is God’s anyway, nothing is my own. My money, my time, my energy, my life, it’s all God’s. I’m just managing everything for Him. Doesn’t it make sense then, I should manage in a way that draws people closer to God and to His Son?

This conflict between giving to attract followers to ourselves vs. giving to attract followers to Jesus is relevant to anyone who blogs or tweets or speaks or writes for God’s kingdom. When we look at our number of followers or friends or subscribers or page views, are we looking out of an interest in drawing people closer to Christ? If you are, that’s a good thing. Jesus advocated numbering the 100 so the shepherd knew he was missing the 1. Tracking numbers out of concern for gathering sheep to Christ’s sheepfold is good. But we’re in error when we track numbers out of a desire to see how our followers have grown. Looking at his numbers to gratify himself was what David did when he numbered the men in his army. David was conscience-stricken after he had counted the fighting men, and he said to the Lord, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. Now, Lord, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing.” (Matthew 18:12 vs. 2 Samuel Chapter 24)

Anytime you give anything, it’s important for you to ask yourself the question, “Am I doing this so people will follow me? Or am I doing it so people will follow Jesus Christ?”

I hear people say they want to be inspired by God’s Holy Spirit when they create their blog post, or their music, or their movie, or their book. I know I certainly want that. If you’re like me, and want the Holy Spirit’s inspiration, it’s important to remember the purpose of the Holy Spirit is to glorify Jesus Christ. (John 16:13-14)

So as much as possible when you show love by giving, love as Jesus loved by giving as Jesus gave. Focus on those who you think will respond by drawing closer to Christ.

Speaking of the Holy Spirit Jesus said,

He will not speak on his own… He will glorify me…

John 16:13-14

Love Like Jesus — God’s Will When You’re Suffering: Luke 4:28-29

Photo by Edward Lim, Creative Commons

All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff.

Luke 4:28-29

 

How Jesus Loved People:

Jesus was rejected. He was rejected in a way you or I will probably never have to experience. He had just read from the scroll of Isaiah, implying very strongly He was the One Isaiah was referring to. He had just told the Jews God miraculously provided for a Gentile widow, rather than a Jew, through Elijah. (see 1 Kings 17:8-16) And He had just told the Jews God miraculously healed a Gentile of leprosy, rather than a Jew, through Elisha. (see 2 Kings 5:1-14)

These things He said infuriated them. And the enraged mob left the synagogue en masse. They took Him to the edge of a cliff to throw Him off. (Luke 4:16-30)

I’ve never been rejected in that way. Have you? So how does Jesus respond to what can only be described as murderous hatred?

He does good. In John 4:46-54 we see Jesus, still in Galilee, not long after He had suffered at the hands of the Galileans, doing good. An official’s son lay sick, and Jesus healed him.

 

How to Love Like Jesus:

I lost all my followers, yesterday. What I experienced is not even remotely close to the rejection and suffering Jesus experienced, because I’m only talking about Twitter followers. I was trying to figure out a way to reach the lost, on Twitter, and my account was suspended for it. So I’m suffering (sort of).

Did you know the Bible tells you what God’s will is for you when you’re suffering? 1 Peter 2:15 tells us we’re to do good when we’re suffering.

To this you were called by God because Jesus, the One who saved you, set an example for you. (see 1 Peter 2:21-24) He did good and gained followers. He did more good and some followers rejected Him. He did more good and nearly all His followers rejected Him. He did even more good and they reviled Him. He did yet more good and they crucified Him.

So you might say, why would I do good? Jesus suffered at the hands of the Galileans and the religious leadership of His day and responded by doing good, and where did that get Him? He lost nearly all His followers, He was reviled, and He was crucified.

That’s true, but what happened in the end? What good was done — ultimately? The relatively few disciples who remained, turned the world upside down for Christ! The consistent good Jesus did while suffering at the hands of others resulted in an astounding bountiful crop for God’s kingdom. According to the Daily Mail, a British online newspaper, Jesus Christ has 2.2 billion followers today.

So how do you love like Jesus? Do good in response to suffering — even when you don’t feel like it, or perhaps, especially when you don’t feel like it.

And yes, you might do good and lose followers for it. You might be reviled for it. You might even be crucified for it. But it doesn’t matter, do good anyway.

Because it’s God’s will for you when you suffer.

Because you were called by God to respond this way.

Because ultimately it will bear abundant fruit.

Jesus loved people by consistently doing good in the face of rejection and suffering.

You can too.

 

References:

Bob Thornley teaching: 9/5/12

Love Like Jesus — Reach Out: Luke 4:14-15

Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.

Luke 4:14-15

How Jesus Loved People

After an impromptu stay with the Samaritans for two days, Jesus continues on to Galilee. And as He travels, He teaches in the synagogues in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Hear we see Jesus loving people by reaching out to them. He reached out to people by teaching them about God, by opening the scriptures to people, and by teaching them about Himself.

How to Love Like Jesus

Sarah Coiner is thirty-six years old, and she has cerebral palsey. Compared to the average person, there’s not much she can do. In fact, because of her condition, she can’t even feed herself. But amazingly, she doesn’t focus on what she can’t do. Sarah focuses on what she can do. And one of the things she can do is answer emails. These emails she responds to aren’t just any emails, they’re emails from people inquiring about God. So Sarah who can’t even feed herself is obeying Jesus’ commandment to “go and make disciples of all nations, …teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

You know, I don’t feel like I could ever reach out by teaching in a synagogue, or a church, or even a youth camp meeting. Maybe you feel the same way. Maybe you’re shy, or maybe your talents lie in some other area: writing, or music, or carpentry, or sewing, or maybe you’re talented with technology.

Let’s just assume for a moment you’re right. Let’s say you can’t reach out through teaching in a church. So how then can you love like Jesus loved by reaching out to people?

There are some amazing ways to reach out to people today. And one of them is so easy and so simple, someone with cerebral palsy can do it. You just answer emails. That’s it. You just respond to emails. You see millions of people, lost people, type in searches for God or Jesus, and there are websites to provide these searchers with an opportunity to encounter Jesus Christ. One example of this type of opportunity is with Global Media Outreach. They’re set up so people inquiring about God can do so with an email. And the results are exciting. Lives are being impacted for Christ by people like you doing what Sarah Coiner is doing. People are accepting Jesus as a result of someone like you just answering an email. In case you’re interested, you can learn more here.

So there may have been a time when someone who’s shy like me, or like you, could make a case for sitting out. But today, there’s nothing stopping us from diving in.

Jesus loved people by teaching them about Himself.

You can too.

Dive in and contact Global Media Outreach or a similar organization and just ask what they’re about. They can help you to obey Jesus’ commandment to “go and make disciples of all nations, …teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

You’ll be glad you did.

Love Like Jesus — Living Water and the Fluid Life: John 4:40

time management Love Like Jesus…when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. John 4:40


How Jesus Loved People

Jesus was on his way to Galilee when He encountered the woman at the well. It should have been just a short break for water and maybe a little food before continuing on to His destination, but that’s not how it worked out.

His Holy Spirit led conversation there at the well, led to the people of that Samaritan town to urge Him to stay. So, He did. For two days Jesus shared the words of eternal life with the Samaritan townspeople.

How to Love Like Jesus —  Living Water and the Fluid Life

I love the way Jesus describes the Holy Spirit as living water because when we’re led by the Holy Spirit, our lives often become fluid. (John 7:37-39)

I used to live a life that was just the opposite. I was scheduled to the hilt. I scheduled activity after activity, meeting after meeting, appointment after appointment, both professionally and personally. My motivation was sincere. I wanted to be as productive as possible. But you know what? I left no room for the Holy Spirit to direct my life. How could He? I didn’t have a minute to spare.

Over scheduling yourself is a great way to kill the Holy Spirit’s influence in your life, and His corresponding fruit, which is love.

Jesus didn’t live that way. Here He is, the most important person on the planet, on a trip to Galilee, and, following the direction of the Holy Spirit, He takes two whole days out of His schedule to talk with the Samaritans.

Can you imagine someone important today, say a candidate for president, spontaneously taking two days out of his schedule to talk to one small group of ordinary people? It would never happen. Most people I observe in our culture today don’t leave room to live a fluid, Spirit filled life. They like to keep busy. They have things to do. And when the Holy Spirit presents opportunity, they usually don’t respond, because there’s nearly always a previous commitment. Stop and talk with the lonely awkward guy at church? Can’t, gotta lunch date right after. Share the Lord with the newly divorced guy at work? Can’t, gotta make softball practice. Invite the unsaved friend to Bible study? Can’t, too much already going on that day. This doesn’t describe a life led by the Holy Spirit.

A life led by the Holy Spirit is a life that’s flexible, free, and fluid. When you choose to live such a life, you’re in for both good news, and bad.

 The Good News

The good news is, if you live this flexible life, you can love people like Jesus did. Availability, flexibility, fluidity translates into opportunity for the Holy Spirit to direct you to love people. To love people like Jesus loved people.

The Bad News

The bad news is, some people don’t deal well with spontaneity. When you live this way, you’ll be misunderstood. Some will say you lack discipline. Some will even think you’re flaky. Some will become upset with you. That can be tough to take. Especially when some of those people are people you care about. Some might come from your church. Some might even come from your own family. It’s absolutely essential you respond to those people in love. And I think the more intimate time you spend with God, in His word, and in prayer, the better you’ll handle those who misunderstand your Spirit led life.

In the end though, it’s worth it. Yes you’ll come under criticism for what some will perceive to be a disregard for structure, but the fruit that’s born makes it all worth it. Look what happened when Jesus loved this way, many of the Samaritans from that town believed.

So to love like Jesus, live a life that’s flexible, free, and fluid.

Jesus did.

You can too.

The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.

1 Corinthians 2:14