My wife was having a conversation with my 8 year old daughter, Faith a few days ago. Faith had been working on a string-bracelet-thing (see the picture) that she was going to give to our son, Caleb (11 years old). She was showing my wife what she had done, pointing out the mistakes she had made, etc.
Please understand, we are not perfectionistic parents, but Mindi did want to take the opportunity to help Faith learn something about things like “doing your best, giving good gifts, etc.” – so she told Faith that she should think about re-doing the bracelet.
Faith let out a big sigh (SIGH), and said, “But I don’t really want to.” Mindi asked her why, and she said, “Because it won’t be very fun to have to do it over.” That’s where the theological conversation began. Mindi asked her, “Do you think Jesus always wants us to have fun in everything we do?” Faith said, “Yeah…”
Mindi went on to explain to her that sometimes Jesus wants us to experience difficulty, hardship, even pain – because He uses those things to teach us things that are more important than “fun” – things like self-control, trust, perseverance, etc. It was a great conversation…
Christians today (at least in America) don’t come right out and say it, but I wonder how many wrongly believe that our Lord & Master only wants us to have fun… or pleasure… or happiness… or __fill in the blank___ ? And when He doesn’t meet that preconceived “job description” we are disillusioned, discouraged, and sometimes even ready to bail on our faith entirely.
Jesus is not a Genie in a bottle. He’s not a cosmic vending machine to dole out our every desire. He’s the sovereign Lord. He’s the ultimate Master of the Universe. He’s in control of the course of our lives. And His will and desires for us far exceed any we could have for ourselves.
Faith is not about fun… it’s about learning to trust Him as He leads the way…
DATE: 12-26-2010 (This one is short but sweet!)
The more time I spend in the gospels, the more I see that Jesus was, is, and always will be a bona-fide RADICAL.
Just look at the way he picked fights with the religious elite (Matthew 23), stood boldly and abrasively against misuse of worship (John 2:13-17), and said some of the most offensive, in-your-face things to His own followers (Matthew 16:23). Jesus wasn’t playing around. He knew His life was too short for that…
Yes, He was full of compassion, but full of uncompromising holiness at the same time (John 8:3-11). He called sin, sin. He confronted wrong. He cared for the holiness and glory of His Father more than He cared for the fragile feelings of any human. He was relentless… unyielding… extreme in what He said (Matthew 18:8-9, Luke 14:25-33). If someone in our day said such things, we’d think he was too critical – out there – off his rocker. I’m sure Jesus seemed that way to those of His day… even overbearing and intolerant. That is simply who He was. Radical.
His uncompromising, radically flavored commitment to His Father’s glory and the outworking of His eternal plan was always front-and-center in Jesus’ mind and heart. Nothing deterred Him. Not organizations, or politicians, or religious types, or the needy, or personal suffering – not even death. His entire being was dedicated to carrying out the eternal plan of God. No holds barred. No turning back. No fear. No compromise. THAT is who Jesus was…and who Jesus is. Radical. In light of that truth I’m faced with the following realization:
Every Christian is called to follow THIS radical Jesus.
Let that sink in. Take your time. The one implication of that realization I’ve never been able to shake, the one that continues to haunt me, is this:
If I REALLY am a Christian, a Christ-follower… If the Spirit of God has REALLY come to dwell within me…
MY LIFE should also have a radical flavor. Isn’t that what it means to “follow” Jesus?
Should I care what people think of me?
Should I temper my responses out of fear of offending?
Should I withhold truth when it isn’t popular or is not well-received?
Should I allow my own fear of man to stifle my zeal?
Should I continue to walk in my insecurities, or let the insecurities of others frighten me into silence?
Should I allow myself to make excuses for my disobedience?
Should I allow compassion to do violence to the truth?
Many who call themselves Jesus’ followers, are so unknowingly effected by modern culture that they attempt to filter Jesus’ radical example through their own standards of appropriateness and emotional sensitivity – making Him into a well-meaning friend rather than their blazingly holy Lord. The radical Jesus, the REAL Jesus, seems nowhere to be found, even among those who “follow” Him.
What do you think? Am I sounding a bit radical? I hope so… not for the sake of being radical, but for the sake of boldly representing what truly matters to Jesus – holiness, truth, the glory of the Father.
MY PRAYER: Lord Jesus, make ME into the kind of radical life that was Yours when You walked this earth. Teach me what it means to count the cost of being Your disciple. Enable me to do it… and to live it.
Madeline and Faith made a “countdown” calendar this year, with flaps on each day leading up to Christmas. Underneath each flap is an activity to do together, to help build anticipation for Christmas. Today’s activity was to write a poem about Christmas… so here’s what Melinda (17), Caleb (11), and Faith (7) wrote…
by Melinda, Caleb & Faith Green
Slender branches like outstretched arms
reaching to the heavens
The star is up there,
glowing through the dark of the house.
Lights run down
like so many fireflies nestled in her branches.
Floating spheres of color circle around
laughing, dancing, smiling, shining…
Beneath it all – scrumptious gifts
rest in the shelter
reminding me of Jesus – the merciful gift from God.
Dying in my place, that I might live
and give my life to Him.
Now I can grow up,
strong like the tree, with Christ as my life
and herald His coming
just as the start, many years ago.
You can find “Prophecies of Hope” – Sermon Audio from Sermon #1 of our 2010 Advent Celebration below.
You can find audio to Celebrate Recovery, Step 7 online now!
You can find the sermon audio for our Celebrate Recovery Series, Step 6, part 2 by clicking HERE
You can find audio to download here or play it below…
This one touched me especially powerfully today – so I had to share it. Read it slowly with a heart of humility…
O God of the highest heaven,
Occupy the throne of my heart,
take full possession and reign supreme,
lay low every rebel lust,
let no vile passion resist thy holy war;
manifest thy mighty power, and make me thine for ever.
Thou art worthy to be praised with my every breath,
loved with my every faculty of soul,
served with my every act of life.
Thou hast loved me, espoused me, received me,
purchased, washed, favoured, clothed,
adorned me, when I was worthless, vile, soiled, polluted.
I was dead in iniquities,
having no eyes to see thee,
no ears to hear thee,
no taste to relish thy joys,
no intelligence to know thee;
But thy Spirit has quickened me,
has brought me into a new world as a new creature,
has given me spiritual perception,
has opened to me thy Word as light, guide, solace, joy.
Thy presence is to me a treasure of unending peace;
No provocation can part me from thy sympathy,
for thou hast drawn me with cords of love,
and dost forgive me daily, hourly.
O help me then to walk worthy of thy love,
of my hopes, and my vocation.
Keep me, for I cannot keep myself;
Protect me that no evil befall me;
Let me lay aside every sin admired of many;
Help me to walk by thy side, lean on thy arm,
hold converse with thee,
That henceforth I may be salt of the earth and a blessing to all.