My Wife Attacked Me With Scissors

She really did. I guess if I were to tell “her” side of the story, she was trimming hair around my ears (which makes her a saint… again, her side of the story).

Well, whichever side you believe, there was blood. Lots of it. I didn’t even feel it when she nicked my ear. It was like something out of a Mel Brooks movie. Way too much blood for such a tiny incident. It was so over the top ridiculous, I was scared to sneeze.

We tried cleaning and holding tissues to it. I gave it a good 15 minutes of holding things to it, applying pressure, etc. and figured it was good enough to jump in the shower.

When drying off, I must of grazed my ear with the towel as it was half full of blood. I cleaned it up again and tried peroxide, bandaids, tissues, weird head angles. For about 45 minutes, the blood flowed.

What started as a laughing matter began to concern me a little. We also had a clock ticking against us, we had to leave the house in 3 minutes at this point.

I started to panic. My wife was helping to try and figure out new ways of stopping the bleeding and every time she would come back in the room I would exclaim in exasperation that the bleeding hadn’t stopped yet. Each time the pitch of my voice would get higher and higher as worry and fear began to settle in.

With 3 minutes to go, I was pacing and panicked, and out of ideas. She really is a saint. She kept checking on me, trying new things, and coming up with new ideas. Finally she stopped in front of me, put her hand over my ear and began to pray.

If I’m honest, it felt silly. A tiny little nick that didn’t hurt… at worst a mild inconvenience of being late. And here we were engaging the Lord and creator of the universe.

While she poured out a heartfelt and sincere prayer, I’m thinking, “hey, I know you are dealing with wars, plagues, starving people, riots, diseases, and the devil, but if you could put all that aside for a second I’ve got this ear thing…”

What is sad to me is that I’ll be the first person to tell anyone else that no problem is too small for God. He wants to know our fears, concerns, crushes, frustrations. He is our brother and our friend. But when it comes to my own mess, I just can’t seem to get on board with it. We do the same thing in the other direction. We claim overwhelmingly that no problem is too big for God… except for what I’m dealing with right now.

Not only did I fail to follow my own advice, which I know to be true, it also never occurred to me to pray at all. Why? On multiple levels I failed. This is why psychologists can’t diagnose themselves. It’s why we can’t use ourselves as references, and it’s why mirrors are the cruelest inventions in the world.

We can’t accurately see inward. Our eyes only see in one direction. This is one of many reason why we have a church. A community of believers to help each other remember the small stuff, withstand the big stuff and to pray through all of it.

The last little bit may make some feel uncomfortable. My ear stopped bleeding. Immediately. Not even a little dried up bubble where the clot formed. There was no clot. It just stopped and dry clean skin remained. No wound. No scab. Like it never happened.

For myself, I have two questions, and I hope my lapse in judgement will help to serve as a good example for you.

1. Why didn’t I pray first?

2. Why not bring EVERYTHING before God? I firmly believe He wants us to.

For you, I have one question. Do you believe God can heal us here, now, and today? If not, ask yourself why you pray at all. Examine your prayers. Dig into the scriptures. I know an awful lot of people who pray everyday for God to be with sick, be with doctors, give comfort, etc. if you don’t believe God has power in this world, why are you praying those prayers? The very prayers Jesus taught us to pray.

“Give us bread, deliver us from evil, forgive our trespasses”. Those are actions that we request God to make in a world that we believe God is bound to be action less in. If He has the power to “guide guard and direct us” as so many of us have prayed verbatim… He has the power to remove a mass, reduce a fever, clean a blood stream, and even stop an ear from bleeding.

Or do we really believe that God can change the hearts and minds of mankind, but he can’t heal hearts and brains? Did your God flunk out of medical school and settle for bachelor’s in psychology?

I’m thankful to a God that forgives me over and over and over again. I’m thankful for His patience while I pray as a last resort when He intended it to be my first. And I’m thankful that He cares about me enough to care about what I care about, even if it would make most of us shrug.

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Did you lose it… or Earn it?

I’ve lost weight before. I ate what I wanted, didn’t bother to exercise and when I stepped on the scale found a nice surprise. Metabolism? Extra inadvertent steps? Who knows, but this is lost weight. I’ve lost my keys too. It took as much effort and planning to lose my keys as it did to lose the weight. And in this case, ‘lose’ is the correct verb for both incidents.

I have also worked hard, suffered, sacrificed, and REMOVED weight from my body. Intentionally. This weight wasn’t lost, it was systematically and forcefully removed. It wasn’t happenstance. It wasn’t a fluke. It wasn’t a question mark as I approached the scale each day. I earned my health.

Hopefully you realize the difference isn’t simply semantical. Many of us are content to lose. And even after sloth, we find pride when we do.  ‘Look at that, I lost 3 pounds after that stomach virus! Woot!

Compare this way of thinking with your relationship with God. Of course we have to say right off the bat that we don’t “earn” anything with God.  But we do have responsibilities to keep the relationship going.  And often, we take the same approach as we do with weight loss.  We focus on what we can lose.

We can be passive and just watch the loss happen.  We can be a pew warmer in our church lives.  Never engaging, never connecting, never growing.  We can prioritize private reading and prayer time last in our lives (often getting neglected in favor of more exciting things like TV, internet, or the latest I-Device).

We can live for the weekends and then waste those as well.  And then we hit a high note.  We get something right, possibly by accident, or just circumstances that line up in our favor.  And we proudly exclaim, ‘look at that!  I lead a prayer, or I really helped that person, etc.. ‘  We puff up and feel like we have really accomplished something when we didn’t really do anything at all.

I fear many of us know the spiritual rut of complacency.  And the walls are lined with lies about how well we are doing when the scales just keep shouting out, “obese!”.  We are meant to pursue Jesus the same way we intentionally and specifically remove weight.  We go after Him.  We drop high calorie friends and cut out fatty habits.  We dive into the word, we wrap our minutes all throughout the day with prayer.

We don’t just happen to bump into Jesus and make a good impression… we chase Him down.  We cannonball into the baptismal and come out dripping with the Savior and His desires for our life.  Can you feel the difference?  One approach says, whatever will happen will happen as long as I don’t have to do much.  The other says, I am loved by God, and that is how I will be known.  I will carry my cross and follow Him.  I will look like Him.  I will be blessed and forgiven by Him.  I will not wait for the right moment or the right lighting or the right song, or the right circumstances… I will go now.  Because now is the only moment I have any say over.

I didn’t earn Him.  He was a gift.  But I refused to let Him pass me by.  I accept.

 

Who is Driving This Thing?

When I was very young my grandad let me drive his boat. It was pretty simple. A throttle that went up or down (fast or slow), and a steering wheel that turned in circles ( left or right. )

I can see how he might have logically deduced that even a young boy couldn’t mess that up. As soon as he said, “gently push the throttle up”, all logic was gone (several hundred feet behind us to be more precise).

I was learning how my logic was flawed as well. I knew boats to go through the water, but had no clue that at high speeds they violently bounced on the waves. I also had no idea that the front of the boat would raise up out of the water so much that I couldn’t even begin to see in front of us.

With zero visibility and the boat bouncing out of control, I wasn’t sure what to do. Without sight, I didn’t know whether safety was to the left or right. Without wisdom and experience, the thought to pull the throttle back never entered my mind.  I only knew one thing from my lesson with grandad… push the throttle forward. And that is all I did.

I feel like I’ve done this in other areas of my life.  When God whispers, go forth, I run out of control before He can even finish the instructions.  He knows the destination, I don’t.  And even when blinded by obstruction and ignorance I can’t speed up fast enough into unknown territory.  My life is bouncing off the waves and a tiny boy is at the wheel randomly throwing the steering wheel back and forth.

There are several things the enemy doesn’t want us to know.  First, we can slow down.  Even stop.  It’s not only OK, its preferred to have things in order with the Father before running out.  Second, We aren’t on the boat alone.  My grandad didn’t wait for me to ask for help.  Fearing for his life and mine, he took things back under control.  Help is one prayer away.  Third, this isn’t a maiden voyage.  Our Savior went before us and He left instructions.

Often when life gets out of control I shake my fists at the sky while I’ve locked the throttle in at full speed.  Much like my exercise bike, its only use these days is to hang assorted laundry on.  God has given us the throttle and the steering wheel.  And He beckons us to follow Him through safe waters.

Two days, No Hope

For two days we had no hope.

For two days we had no Savior.

For two days our king was gone and the kingdom He promised with Him.

For two days the healer was dead.

For two days there was confusion, weeping, and mourning.

For two days sinners in need of salvation were devastated and lost.

For two days believers hid in fear and quaked with uncertainty.

For two days evil laughed, mocked, and taunted.

For two days our Messiah and Lord was a man in a tomb.

Can you imagine the range of emotions?  Witnessing miracles, hearing stories, laying eyes on this man who is so different.  The heart tugs, the stomach produces butterflies, and you just can’t shake the urge to follow this man.  What He claims is absurd, but what He accomplishes is even crazier.  The dead are rising, the sick are healed, and the powers of the world want to stop Him.  It all lines up and you start to believe.  Not just that He can open blind eyes or get rid of a nasty cough… but that He is who He says He is.

Can you imagine Letting go of logic and letting your heart take over to what you know to be true?  To allow yourself to feel the freedom of FINALLY receiving a just and kind king?  He isn’t corrupt, He isn’t selfish, He isn’t greedy.  He doesn’t desire power and He doesn’t want wealth… your wealth.  Unlike any ruler before Him.  As this becomes your new truth you envision life with grace, peace, and happiness.  You don’t know fully how it will all work out, but you have seen His power.

Who could stop a man that raises the dead?  Who would want to?  You have backed the wrong horse before, but not this time… not with this man.  You sell possessions, you get the family together, you make life changing decisions because that is what followers are called to do.  And just when everything couldn’t be better… it all falls apart.  How could someone with that much power die?  Just like that, He is gone.  For two days, He is dead and buried and in the eyes of man, all that He promised is buried in the dirt with a man, who was either going to be as great as He claimed, but killed before He could do so… or He was just a fraud.

Either way, now your life is in shambles.  You put everything into the promises of this man.  You put your faith and hope in this man.  And you watched them bury this man.  I can’t comprehend the thoughts racing through their minds.  We know they mourned.  We know some were scared and hid.  But how do they come back from that?  He WAS their hope.  Now they have none.

I catch myself living life like this.  Grumpy in traffic, angry at online interactions, furious with horrible customer service.  Bad days at work, kids make bad choices, food tastes bad.  I can choose to make life as frustrating, horrible sounding, and pointless as I want to.  Some days I feel lonely, sad, and like everything in the world is out to get me.  I covet parts of my past while abhorring other parts of it.  I fall in ruts, or sometimes cannonball into them with steadfast determination.  And at the end of the day I just sit back and feel sorry for myself.  Like I have no choice.  Like I have no hope.

On the third day, something happened.  For us, we know the story, but they hadn’t documented it quite yet.  It started as a rustling of guards.  I’m sure there was finger pointing and great defenses laid out as to why it wasn’t their fault.  Then rumors started spreading and dreary eyes started to open.  Rumors turned to sightings and wobbly legs began to stand.   When all the pieces were put together and the full story told there was praise, worship, rejoicing.  Hallelujah!  He arose!  It was all true.  It IS all true.  It will all be true.  Now there is hope again.

From the third day on, there will always be hope.

From the third day on, we have a Savior.

From the third day on, we have a King, a kingdom to look forward to, and salvation to complete the story.

Lets be third day on, Christians.  The evil one celebrated for two days… lets not give him any more than that.  When the lies start to spread and you begin to feel tired, burdened, sad, alone, empty… remember day three.  The stone was rolled away.  The tomb was empty.  The tomb is empty.  The throne is not.  Praise God for day three, let us never again live like our ancestors did in days one and two.  We have the hope.  We have a Savior.  He is coming back.

Let’s Make a Deal

The cost of discipleship.  Yes we are asked to give up everything to follow God.  But what is our, ‘everything’?  Money that crumbles over time.  Habits that when properly understood only actually make our lives worse while living them.  Passing acquaintances.  What value do our baubles and achievements have once we pass?  So, in exchange for our garbage… our leftover trash that has no true value, God gave His Son… and promised everything holy and eternal to follow.  Our ‘everything’ in exchange for God’s.

If that doesn’t seem quite right its because evil is in the middle of it all.  Satan whispers, in an attempt for you.  He doesn’t want your everything.  He knows its value and has no desire for it.  He doesn’t need your allegiance, he doesn’t want your respect.  You don’t even have to acknowledge him.  What he wants is you.  More importantly, he wants you to not take God’s deal.  There is a half truth here, he will even acknowledge you don’t really have anything to offer.  With Satan, you can keep your money, your friends, your status… for a time.  Like God, he doesn’t want your junk.  He wants you.  And all you have to do is to ignore God’s offer and take the mystery deal behind door number 2.

That’s it.  Just step away from God and the biggest zonk in eternity awaits.  It takes no effort.  Just speak the words, neigh, just think them.  Say, “I don’t want God’s deal” and you won’t be forced to take it at all.  Instead door number 2 and all it’s potential earthly (temporary) trinkets await.

When we don’t properly reflect on God’s sacrifice and promises to us, we allow room for all the theatrics the evil one can muster.  His stage is set with lights, music, smoke, and the promise of something greater… That lie is only appealing when we forget what we already have in a Savior.  In truth, God doesn’t really want our garbage either… He just wants us to approach Him without it.  That was His deal.  If we can come to Him without the world’s refuse surrounding us, then we were worth everything He gave up to get to us.  When we aren’t burdened by the world, we are free for the Savior’s embrace.

The Bible: Written as We Sometimes Live

I can do some reasonable things through Christ.

The LORD is my shepherd, I need lots of stuff.  He makes me lie down but I’d rather stand, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He forces me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear everything, for I don’t see you; your rod and your staff, they neglect me. You prepare a table before me surrounded by my enemies.  You dump oil on my head; my cup overflows so I cannot drink.  Surely your goodness and love will find me one day, and I will hopefully dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

But the fruit of the Spirit is correction, pride, winning, entitlement, strength, ego, self-preservation, unquestioning, social media; against such things there is no law.

He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted, It’s not really your fault anymore so… go nuts!

Therefore confess your sins to no one and pray in solitude so that no one will find out. The prayer of a lonely person is powerful and effective.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you a long list of rules that aren’t cool.

Rejoice when you can,  pray when you need something,  give thanks if you got what you wanted.

Trust in the LORD with all your brain and lean heavily on your own understanding

Conform to the patterns of this world, be transformed by the renewing of your instincts.

Be anxious about everything, and in everything, by prayer and petition, with urgency, present your lists to God.

Therefore go and make disciples by donating to missionaries.

for all of those people have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you things, promotions, relationships… like a genie.

By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you leave each other alone and refrain from sharing God publicly.

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There are certainly more.  This is why I love communion each Sunday.  It forces inner reflection.  We have to know who we are and when we get disconnected from the message.  Sometimes its minor.  It starts off small.  But if we aren’t careful, We are claiming Christ in our minds and screaming “I don’t know the man”(Matt:26:72)  with everything else.  I pray a different look at the words will spark a renewal in you.

What Matters Most

I got cut off in traffic again.  This one was much worse.  He came so close to hitting me he was able to conveniently reach out and punch my windshield.  So throw in some road rage and bullying to boot.  Sadly, its far too common.

I also tried to pull a fork out of the drawer.  You know… a fork… in a silverware drawer in the kitchen?  What is there to say about that?  Well, I guess I kept misjudging the size of the fork or the length of the drawer, or some other law of nature, because it kept getting knocked back into the drawer.  I was in a bit of a hurry so I would start to walk away from the drawer and then, “CLANK!” still no fork in hand.  After the 4th try I decided it was time to stop and take a deep breath.

Why?  Because its moments like that, the little ones, that can send a bit of anger into my life.  The hospital lost my check.  In cases like these its not my word against theirs.  I still owe them money no matter whose fault it really is.  Every light was red on my way into work, someone ate the last doughnut, I left my keys at home, and the heat is out in my office.  It’s days and weeks like this where it is hardest to focus.

What is worse, its easiest to start making excuses.  Little pity parties just to help the day get better.  I’ll skip my diet today, I deserve a cheer me up.  An extra coffee?  sure!  I deserve one.  Was I mean to that waitress?  bah! can’t be worse than what I’ve had.  Bills due?  Tomorrow!  Kids need attention?  Tomorrow!!  Marriage needs work?  Tomorrow!!!

My goal is to start looking at that pizza above.  If you have OCD its even more difficult to see.  Ponder it for a moment.  We all know that cutting a pizza that way is just plain wrong.  There should probably be a fine!  But honestly consider… will it taste any different?  Do the cheese molecules change any?  Does the sauce die if not connected to 1/8th serving of crust?  If you were blindfolded and fed the tip of that slice, would you be able to declare, “The crust is missing from the back edge!!!!”, solely from tasting the front tip?

I don’t think you can.  And when tragedies happen, yet don’t really affect anything… what do we do?  With all that is in me I want to declare this pizza ruined, and wrong, and it should be ashamed of itself, but when I ponder what has actually happened… well, nothing.  It’s still pizza.  It still tastes the same.  It still smells the same.  It still adds just as many beautiful, loving, wonderful carbs.

And I want to apply this to every single aspect of my life because no matter how you slice it, we are still people trying to live out life together.  That guy that cut me off needs prayers.  The bank needs my patience.  The family needs my love and support, and no matter how many things seem to pile up against me, I have to start asking… does it matter?  Will any of these devastating adversaries in my life change the fact that I am a Christian?  Will any of them take away the Cross?  Were there any moments in the life of Jesus that diverted His course, changed His nature, or consumed His peace?

When we put things in the correct perspective (beneath the cross of a risen Savior), we go from, “Ewwww, who ruined this pizza??!?!?” to “mmmmm…. can I have another slice?”.   Enjoy the cheesy goodness, no matter what shape it takes, and you will be controlling your life rather than submitting to the silly circumstances that show up to rob you of your happiness.

Bo Knows Sports. Do We Know God?

 

Bo Jackson was often idolized for being an All-Star athlete in two sports at the same time.  But that praise doesn’t give adequate justice.  He wasn’t just a pro bowl running back, he was two completely different positions worth of athlete on the field at the same time using up only one roster slot.  Let me explain that a bit.

Most teams now employ running back rotations.  While not entirely new, their purpose is different than it used to be.  One running back will be fast, agile, and as a result, usually smaller.  Their job is to get open with their speed and avoid getting tackled with their flexibility.  They look for huge chunks of yardage and the ever popular screen play.  These guys generally have good hands too and will take short passes in the hopes of turning them into something much bigger.

They are hard to catch, but easy to tackle, which is a problem.  So in comes RB2.  The big guy.  His sole purpose is to punch in through a wall of defenders and give everything he’s got to gain just one or two yards.  Usually you see him on the goal line.  When EVERYONE knows you are going to run the ball, it goes to the guy who won’t go down easy.  He needs to be able to knock defenders backwards and drag a rookie or two for a few extra yards.  So desperate for that one yard, some teams have even given the ball to their biggest lineman hoping he can penetrate the defenders with sheer power and adrenaline.

Bo was both.  Watch that video.  We often don’t see it these days… a running back finding open field and outrunning the safety who had an advantageous angle on him?  Unheard of.  And this same guy with all that speed knocked some of the most feared linebackers and defensive ends on their rumps with his raw power.  Who can say they outran Deion Sanders and knocked down Brian Bosworth?

Sadly, his career(s) ended with a single tackle.  Listen to the commentary on why this simple looking tackle took a beast out of commission… “If he had been a less powerful athlete, he would have been fine.”   His extra power, his extra speed, his superb ability… that is what doomed him?  Whether you agree with that expert opinion or not, lets table the medical condition of “extra awesome” for a moment.

Isn’t that true for Christians?  Why was Paul in prison?  He was close to Jesus.  Why was John the Baptist beheaded?  He was a significant part of the plan.  Why did Peter deny Him?  He knew the price of following in the footsteps of Jesus… and he wasn’t willing to pay it just then.

If you train, study, and commit you can become very good.  If you train, study, and commit in the areas God has blessed you in… you will appear otherworldly to your peers.  If you apply that training, knowledge, and experience in your gifting to God, you will become the target.  You will be tackled from behind.  Let’s change that line from the commentator a bit.  What if Bo wasn’t giving it his all?  What if he was tired?  What if he just wanted to put in the minimum effort?  I imagine he would have went down easy as well.

They think it was his momentum coupled with his strength.  When he felt the enemy around him, he didn’t give up.  When they started to wrap him up he said, ‘I’m not letting you get my legs’.  He pulled them with his strength.  He kept trying to run.  It was the act of giving everything you have even when things start to go wrong.  If he had conceded to the tackle, he may have just gone on and performed many more jaw dropping, spectacular plays.  But he simply refused.  He would not go down on someone else’s terms.

Do we?  Do we give it all we have?  When adversity shows up, do we lean to the sidelines yielding the drama of the tackle?  Do we just fall down when something bad touches us? Are we content with just a first down?  Is making the team enough?  Are we happy with status quo?  Or do you yearn to keep moving, to keep pushing, to keep pulling, to stay on your feet, to knock back adversity, to pummel oppression, to de-cleat turmoil in your life?

I idolize Bo as an athlete, not because of his stats.  Some of his stats, when seen all alone, didn’t look that great.  It was how he accomplished those numbers.  It was in the time frame with shortened seasons.  It was with integrity.  It was with determination.  He didn’t just score touchdowns… He refused to let the enemy have a say in the outcome of his goals.  He didn’t care if you were a 300 pound lineman, an all-world linebacker, or an epic safety… (or all 3).  If you stood in his way, you better had prepared harder and been gifted more because he was willing to empty his tank to get to the destination.

Can we say the same?  With God behind us, blessing us, Biblically prepared, prayed for, do we dig in and give absolutely everything we have against the enemy in this world?  Or, when he lays a hand on us, does punting sound like a good idea?  “I can do all things through Christ“.  Is it that we don’t really believe the word, “ALL”?  Do we read that and think God made a mistake by putting that in the Bible?  Do we think the Greek translation really meant, ‘I can do reasonable things…’?  Or… is it the last part?

Are we not in Christ?  Are we not ‘through’ Him?  Is He even invited to our efforts?  If we lived out our faith the same way Bo chased down miraculous catches on the baseball field, if we prayed with the same vigor that Bo plowed through defenders on the football field, if we chose to keep running even when we were inevitably stopped… we could show the world why its so important to run the race we cannot win.

Putting on the name of Christ is like getting handed the football.  11 skilled professionals will hunt you down and do everything they can to not only stop you, but to take what is yours.  What is better than a tackle?  A forced fumble.  A defensive touchdown.  Fantasy football players want nothing more than the rare sack, fumble, TD that can happen in a single play.  If you are a believer without a team, I pray you find one quick.  You need prayer warriors, defenders in the faith, and if nothing else, shoulders to cry on and keep you upright.

God’s church is His team and we need that to win.  We have to hobble off the field when attacks don’t go so well and that is much easier with the help of some other players.  That tackle is coming.  That moment when Satan goes for the jugular against those that oppose him.  God has armed us, prepared us, and gifted us for that moment.  Will we leave skills unused?  Will we leave gas in the tank?  Will we go down easy, pull up, look back?

 

Warning: Do Not Duplicate

Jesus was unlike any other the world has ever seen.  If we fit in… if we look like everyone else… if we choose normalcy… then we aren’t showing the world Jesus.  We aren’t Christ like… We aren’t Christians.  To “put on” Jesus isn’t to attend church or learn a few rules. Rather, we are called to be consumed by Jesus, to partake of Him, to be Him.

People generally had two reactions when confronted with the complexity and humility of their Savior.  They would follow Him, or they would plot to dismantle Him and all He stood for.  Love or hate.  He either offered you freedom, love, salvation, and healing… or he threatened your earthly world and needed to be dealt with.

But true to form, He did something no one expected.  Something incomprehensible.  Who would have ever imagined that the feeble and selfish plans of a hateful and corrupt legalistic group would have actually worked against the God, maker of man?  Shouldn’t He have had a fail-safe?  Shouldn’t He have seen it coming?  Couldn’t He stop it?  Sure.  But He chose not to… for us.

Can you imagine having the ability to defend yourself against the scum of humanity and choosing not to… because you love the scum… all of them?

This goes against all logic.  That is not the thinking of earth dwelling humans.  And when some met this man, they followed.  They witnessed the difference first hand.  This man doesn’t serve himself, he serves God.  He doesn’t accumulate, He hands out.  He doesn’t demand, He assists.  When He could rightfully strike back, He hugs.  When He has been cheated, He prays.  It’s like the opposite of everything life teaches us.

And now, with Jesus having proven He was all and more than He promised, but also gone from this world, He left one thing to bring everyone to Him in the end and finish His great and wonderful plan…

Us.

We may be generations removed.  But we have a relationship anyway.  We may have never witnessed the pages of the Bible lived out before being recorded, but we do have that perfect hindsight where the entire story has played out save one part.  The return our ancestors spoke of is approaching us just as it was for them.

What were the commands?  Be ready.  No time for leaven bread.  Like a thief in the night… Go into the world and speak Jesus.  Pick up our cross and follow in His footsteps.  Be persecuted for His name.  Be the person unlike any other… except that one.  Be like Him.  Be the man who inspires strangers to change their lives.  Be the woman who looks past the setting sun and sees the coming Son.   Be the young adult that refuses to follow week minded and selfish ambitions.  Be the child that yearns for something more.

Be unlike any other.  If we can’t be like Him, we will be just like everyone else.  The world has seen that over and over and over.  The world doesn’t follow normalcy.  The world doesn’t reject status quo.  We are the gift left to finish the plan of God.  We are to be Jesus to the world.  Some of us have never shown Him because we don’t properly understand Him ourselves.  Or we are too scared.  Or being just like everyone else is too comfortable.  Or excuse number 7, or exception number 19, or reason number 312…  We know how to make anything sound acceptable.

If we conform to the world, if we follow in the social expectations, if we don’t stand firm and tether to Jesus… we will never show Him to the world.  And if we don’t, no one else will.  I can’t think of a more cruel punishment to the world (or anything more un-Christ-like… to deny them Jesus, when He allowed us to kill Him for just that very privilege).

While you are planning diets, new budgets, and other personality traits you want to alter in this new year, might I suggest the greatest goal you could ever imagine?  Would you consider something more life changing than good health, and more valuable than extra wealth?  Stop being like everyone else.  Be like Him.  Don’t judge your neighbor… Become a neighbor.  A good one.  A compassionate one.  One that lives in the hindsight of redemption, freedom, and salvation.  Be like Him.

We Can’t be Obedient if We Aren’t Rebelling

To be obedient to God, we must become disobedient to our previous way of living.

We have to rebel against the life of self satisfaction.

We have to reject the tendencies to serve worldly desires and systems.

We have to sin against our former gods.  (wealth, reputation, status, legacy, etc)

Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die”.  Death to our old way of things.  Death through baptism.  Death to our lives centering the universe.  Death to an old law.  Death to prison.  Death to loss and pain.

We can’t take on the new without properly burying the old.  If we truly nailed our sins to the cross and watched them breath their last, we can burst up from the depths of the waters a new creation by and from God.  An obedient servant.  Dripping with the holy waters of salvation met with loving freedom and creation.

Then we can follow the Man.  The one who said “you are forgiven”.  The Man that walked on water and raised the dead… yet came to give up His own life.  The definition of power and majesty who decided to yield to frail men with evil agendas.  The leader who brought a plan with me in mind and then said, “it is finished”.

Obedience.  Following a God who stooped to the level of humanity, so that we could enter the kingdom of a Fatherly deity.  He became like us so we could be made like Him.  And now, we choose to obey, not because we have to, not because the rules say so, not because we promised or feel guilty… but because it’s the most exciting thing we can imagine.  I get to follow God.  I get to walk in the footsteps of the greatest sacrifice ever made.  I can see the path to follow and treading between its borders is the most wonderful form of worship and praise I can give.

To obey is not to say, “I guess so”.  To submit one’s will is to jump up shouting… “there is no other way!  This is how life is meant to be!”  Psalm 119:97 says, “Oh how I love your law!  It is my meditation all the day.”  A huge portion of that chapter addresses how wonderful the law is.  Not as a book of decrees or a hierarchy to submit to, but as a loving and protecting testament to the relationship between God and man.

Obedience is an honor and privilege.  It is true freedom.  We take off a heavy burden and put on a loving and light one.  A burden that is tremendously unbearable when people try and resist it.  A burden that is graciously easy, when willfully followed.

Obedient to the one who created us to be eternally happy.  We are crafted to sit at the thrown with God.  How can we fight the natural way of things?  The enemy is near.  It is he who deserves our disobedience.  It is he we are to die to.  Whomever we do not die to, we will live eternally with.