Friday, April 29, 2016

“This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.”
Jesus said to his disciples: “This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another.”

How does Jesus love?

Practically—His healing & providing miracles

Patiently—He continues to love disciples when we don’t “get it,” when we mess up

Sacrificially—Coming here in the first place, His passion

Actively—He seeks out folks to love

Correctively—He corrects & teaches disciples when we need it

Faithfully—He never quits loving

Saturday, April 16, 2016

A good confession is like restarting your computer

A good confession seems to be a lot like restarting a computer. It cleans the bits of dysfunction in our lives that slow or block our fruitfulness, freeing us to more effectively do what God called us to.  

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Fear does not equal Failure and Doubt does not equal Disqualification
The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.  18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:5-10, 16-20 (emphasis added)

Woven into the great good news of the resurrection is the subtheme that Jesus uses us in spite of our fears and doubts.  We see that in Matthew’s account of Jesus’ response to the women who first discovered His resurrection and some of His disciples’ doubts.

To fully appreciate what’s going on there we must consider what preceded it.  The women and the disciples had been with Jesus for three years, immersed in His powerful teaching and witnessing His great miracles, including several instances where raised the dead. Indeed, they had participated in and were direct beneficiaries  of  some of His miracles. Further, and of particular importance here, Jesus had repeatedly told told them that He would be murdered and resurrected. They therefore should have known that His death would not be the end of things. 

Yet, being human, they were overwhelmed by the traumatic circumstances of Jesus' death and the apparent failure of all they had lived for. They lost sight of Jesus’ plan and experienced fear and doubt, even in the face of powerful evidence that what Jesus said was going to happen was actually happening.  In short, they didn’t “get it,” their perception was clouded.

But rather than giving up on or condemning them, Jesus understood their frailty and continued to use them. He gave them immediate missions (to tell the others about the resurrection, to meet Jesus at a particular place), and that lead to their being restored to very fruitful service.

So what does that meant to us, 21 centuries later? At least two things.

First, it shows us that God uses us in spite of fears and doubts, that our human failings do not disqualify us from effective service.  Jesus’ patience with the women’s fear and the disciple’s doubts are part of a broader pattern of God getting us past our initial fears/doubts and using us in spite of them.  Abraham, Moses,  Gideon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Mary, Peter, and Ananias each had initial doubts about what God called them to do, and God used them in spite of those, and even later, doubts.

Second, it shows us how we should respond to those fears and doubts: by taking the immediate next step God asks of us. The women did that by relaying the message Jesus gave them, in spite of their own fear. The doubting disciples showed up where Jesus told them to meet Him. Neither were huge tasks, but both got those folks past their fears/doubts and back into the pattern of productive service.