So what did Jesus do?

I follow Christ, period.

I know that I live in a day and age where I am judged by the word “Christian”, but the problem with “Christian” is that there is no singular definition that suffices.

Is it “Christian” by my standard or yours, because they are probably not the same?

“Christian” has taken so many meanings from so many corners of the world for so many different eras. For some, “Christian” gets its definition from the Crusades. For others, it is the standard by which my wife wears her hair. And, I agree with you those two are not even close to being on the same playing field but that is how diverse and how polar the word “Christian” has become. It has taken on definition from the actions or lack thereof of those who are supposed to be learners of Jesus.

So, you can have “Christian” I don’t want it. I don’t want to have my life governed by a sliding scale of judgment, innuendo or manipulation. You can try and put the term on me, but I’ve decided not to wear it.

I’ve decided that I would rather get lost in the identity of Jesus. I want to live, love and look like him. Oh, he had his accusers. He had those who wanted him silenced. They were more interested in their name, their pedigree and their protocol. The accuser’s religious pride could not handle someone who just did not care about his religious appearance or his family name.

Yes, I’ve decided that I want my life to be on a trajectory of Christ. If I can stay on that trajectory then my life will have meaning. I’ll agree with you again, I’m still a long way off, but that is where I am heading.

By the way… I love the way my wife does her hair.JAY_9027

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Just Stay in Your Box “2” – Right Where I Left You

Pseudo Relationships Abound!

If we remain too busy and our lives keep screaming ahead, we probably won’t know the difference.

“I Love You,” is a meaningful set of words, but often the catch phrase should read, “If you stay in your box and are available when I need you and what I need you for.”

We live in a generation that has no shortage of communication opportunities. All of our technical world is about building better communication. We can Twitter, Facebook, FaceTime, Skype, Google, Text, e-mail and oh I almost forgot telephone, and yet I’m not sure if our relationships are better or have gone any deeper.

There is no doubt about it, relationships are a challenge. They take time, energy, skill and effort.

To have a relationship for real where we can know and be known is rare. So, the temptation is very real for us to have relationships that are “me-time.” ‘If you fit the box of what I determine, then we can have relationship. If not then maybe we can…text…or something. “Call me and we’ll do lunch.”

The bottom line is I want control. But, your bottom line is that you want the same. If I want to control you and you want to control me, chances are great that there will be no authentic relationship and the love that should flow.

I believe that we are built to be authentic and to have vulnerable and intimate relationships. I think deep inside we crave it.

Jesus taught that the second is like the first, “Love your neighbor as I have loved you.” You might want to notice that he didn’t say, “When your neighbor loves you, then you love.” He left the responsibility on the one who is hearing his words or in this case reading.

If that’s the measuring line, how many of us live as Christian? Do I? Do you?

Just stay in your box!

I love you, ‘as long as you stay in your box.’

Jesus had just fed the five thousand men, also add in the women and children. That was a lot of food. He then started to thin the crowd with some tough teaching, he did it on purpose. Jesus? He doesn’t need a popular vote. Crowds? NBD.

Finally after the great stirring and movement, the slipping away of shadows, he looks at his disciples and says, “Are you going to leave to?” My translation said it this way, “Phil do you like me?” Oh not literally, but that was the question that confronted me. I responded with my best ‘christianize,’ “I love you Lord…” I was already onto the second stanza, “…and I lift my voice…” and the Lord interrupted, “That’s not what I asked. Phil do you like me?”

I was caught. Just like the 5000 ‘taste and see’ stand and watch and be amazed crowd I was cornered. I immediately was uncomfortable with this unboxed Jesus/God. I couldn’t point at the Pharisees, I was struggling with the same Jesus who doesn’t care about my rules or protocol. He was cutting with the question. He still is.

As long as I could enjoy, watch and predict a miracle, as long as I could stay at a safe distance, ‘did I say predictable distance?’ As long as my religious, feel good rhythm went uninterrupted, then, I was all in.

In a moment there was no box, no sterile wrap no full stomach bringing on the yawns, there was just the super, simple, transparent, vulnerable Jesus. “Do you like me? Yes or no?

The only option is reciprocating transparency.

A God without a box? People that love without a condition or stipulating labels? Maybe we could start a movement.

Those that “Have to Say,” Aren’t

 

Over my life I have had the opportunity on a few occasions to know some very wealthy people. These people probably were able to travel every day to Texas and back to get their Starbucks, and not even feel it in their accounts.

During my time with them it didn’t stand out, but later while observing and conversing with others all of a sudden it reminded me of something that was missing with these wealthy friends.

It showed up as people who didn’t have that kind of wealth but wanted me to think that they did. They would constantly drop hints about how much they were making and how often they were spending and where their illustrious buys were landing them.

The extremely wealthy didn’t do that.

Why?

Because they didn’t have to. The difference was that they actually had the money and goods. They didn’t need to concern themselves that I would know that. It didn’t matter and they were secure without anyone giving their support.

I developed through this example a little axiom that I use now and cross many lines with it in my thinking.

“Only those who don’t have it have to flaunt it.” I’ve seen it hold true.

How does that play out in the area of spiritual life?

People who are connected with God don’t have to let everyone else know that they are. They don’t have to drop hints like “In my prayers at 4:00am this morning the Lord told me…” “God told me this, God told me that…” you get the picture. They aren’t just explaining, they are posturing and flaunting.

People who are connected with God and walk in the spirit actually do it. They don’t have to posture, they don’t have to prove, they just do it. They are who they are, authentic and true. They know God and radiate him through their life.

So how about you? Do you just “Have to say,” or, are you?

Signs, Gifts and Wonderings

My wife and I just completed a 4373 km road trip last week. We saw thousands of signs.  Not once did we stop to admire any sign. I know that every business pays big dollars to construct and then have you read their sign, but they didn’t garner the attention enough to make us want to pause and admire in wonder.

We did get excited however after 17 hrs of a tag team push to see our destination advertised only 23 km away. There was ‘glory’ that was to follow. Every sign pointed to the one thing that we were waiting for. We wanted rest and a hug from our daughters.

I love the thought in the gospel of John that he has focussed all his energy, all his depth on the destination of where we the readers should be in our thoughts. We don’t want to stop at the sign to admire it, we want to move toward and admire Christ. He is the one focal point, he is the fullness of God living in a body. (Col. 1:19) He is the fulfillment of all the institutions and festivals embedded in the Jewish life.

We need to make sure that we get excited about the right thing not just the sign telling us about it. I don’t know too many people who don’t get excited about ‘potential’ especially when it comes to an area that they are interested in or passionate about. Signs are all about potential. As glad as I am for potential, I want the real and tangible I want the destination.

The “Glory” that Jesus was looking forward to when he was in the last hours of his life here on earth, Paul picked up on. He said, “To them (the Lord’s people) God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Col. 1:27NIV)

God wants everyone who follows Jesus to live a humbly righteous and priestly life that is Spirit led and empowered in every area. That is what Jesus was excited and joyful about! When he was in the ‘worst’ moment, He looked forward with joy. His Spirit was about to be located exponentially in every believer, everywhere, every time.

Signs speak directly to the culture in which are found, “Kilometers eh?”

How do we know that we are being led by Holy Spirit and hearing God’s voice?

All too often we don’t incorporate the use of our minds with hearing God’s voice, but he gave us an incredible tool in and through our cognitive abilities. Some have had thoughts in the past that if God is going to direct us, he is going to by-pass our mind. I guess our reasoning is that God is Spirit and if he is going to speak it will be something spiritual that we won’t be able to comprehend.

I think perhaps that we may be confusing faith and thinking.

There are probably many ways that we can ‘hear’ God’s voice speak to us. These are some of the filters, ‘grids’ that we need to consider if we want an accurate ‘take’ on what he is saying.

A) God’s Word – Three Grids

1) Grid of Thinking: How are you doing in your thought life?

Phil. 4:8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

True?
Noble?
Right?
Pure?
Admirable?
Excellent?
Praiseworthy?

2) Grid of Accepting: How are you doing with what you believe?

James 3:17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.

First Pure?
Peace-loving?
Considerate?
Submissive?
Full of Mercy?
Good fruit?
Impartial?
Sincere?

3) Grid of Doing: How are you in your attitude or response to another person?

1 Corinthians 13:4-8a  Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails…

Patient?
Kind?
Does not envy?
Does not boast?
Not Proud?
No Dishonor?
Not Self-seeking?
Not Easily Angered?
Keeps no record of wrongs?
No delight in Evil?
Rejoices with the truth?
Always protects?
Always trusts?
Always hopes?
Always perseveres?
Never Fails?

B) Listening to the counsel of a brother or a sister who are in a godly relationship with you. 
Discipling or Mentoring

C) Does the next step violate or hurt anyone?

Does it make sense, does it line up with where things should be?

Aside

Spiritual Growth

It is so important to have a faith that works in the hum-drum of every day.
Often we have two different worlds at play. Our “Faith” world, and our “Real” world. Is it any wonder that there is no success in either?
The scriptures call this ‘double minded’ and says that this is a very unstable place to be and live. (James 1:8)
Double mindedness happens when we are not committed to either world. We doubt what we do, or how we pray because there is always a second thought concerning it.
When we see our faith and our life converge and one affecting the other we lose the double mindedness. We begin to focus on one thought and the contribution from all of our life to validate or to enhance that thought. This builds confidence which in turn builds our faith. When we pray from that position, we have focus and clarity. Then we see answers to our prayers and the vibrancy of our faith permeates our entire life.