Jesus Loved him

I have heard this story a lot, but today, (with everything else that I have been thinking about lately) this verse struck me.

The passage is Mark 10:17-31.  Here a rich man comes to Jesus and asks “what must I do to inherit eternal life”?  I dont know about you but I would love for someone to just come out and ask me that.  I would love to tell them all about the love of Jesus, the Cross, Resurrection, and the hipe of Heaven. At first it appears that Jesus skips the question because He was called the wrong name.  The man called Jesus “good teacher” and Jesus says no one is good.  (Yesterday I talked to a man who believes Jesus was seperating Himself from God here.  He believes Jesus was simply a prophet not God and he used this passage as his proof text.)

So the guy says to Jesus that he in fact has been good.  He has kept all the commands. “Teacher, all these I have kept since I was a boy.”   Here is what gets me.

“Jesus looked at him and loved him.”

Jesus know that this man was not ready to let go of everything to follow Him. Jesus know that this man would not “make a decision” to die to self and live for Christ.  But “Jesus looked at him and loved him”.

Wow!!!  You know as I was talking to this guy yesterday, who know all about the Bible, it was so hard to simply love him.  I wanted him to believe like I do.  He believed in Jesus, and that He died on the cross for mans sin, but he didnt think Jesus was God.  He was Gods son, but not God.

This guy knocked on my door (he was looking for my neighbor) and then we stood in my drive way as he shared with me his beliefs.  I simply asked questions.  It was so hard to stand there and love.  I wanted to convince him what I believe.  Then I go into the house and read that “Jesus looked at him and loved him.”

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Meeting their physical needs

I am still thinking about some of the thoughts I was challenged with from the book UnChristian. The fact that many people on the outside of “Christianity” feel that Christians really don’t love and care for them is eating me up. Partner that with the stuff I am reading in the Bible and it really hits my heart hard.

Let me start by saying, yesterday I went to visit two students that work at a inner city type of ministry here in Chambersburg. As I was visiting my heart broke for these kids. These kids, right here in our own back yard, are no different from the kids I met this summer in the Projects of Washington DC. They have the exact same issues. As I watched these kids interact with each other and the adults I began thinking:

How the heck is The Church going to reach these kids for Christ?
Many people inside The Church (Including Me) don’t have a clue how to make a difference in these kids lives.
What are these kids going to be like when they are teenagers?
Is there really hope for these kids?
How do the workers of Network Ministries do this day in and day out?

Then something great happened.  Later, I went out to my hammock to spend some time with God and do a little studying for upcoming messages. I sat a read Mark 7.  Let me say I have not studied this I was simply reading the story.

Jesus enters a house and there is a women there who’s daughter is demon possessed.   The women ask that Jesus drive out the demon.  Jesus responds “First let the children eat all they want…..”.

I simply stopped there and began to think about the Children from down town.  I believe sometimes the best way to show them the love of Jesus is to simply meet some of their physical needs. If they are hungry feed them.  If they are thirsty give them a drink.  If they need help with home work, help them.  If their parents need help learning English, teach them.

Maybe we focus too much of our time and attention on the Spiritual needs (which are real and need to be addressed), but forget to actually love and care for the people and their physical needs.  When Jesus sent out the 12 in Mark 6:12-13 they were to take care of both the Spiritual and the Physical needs.

I know some students that have been helping to feed the poor at a Church down town and they say that it is the highlight of their week.   Maybe we are missing it.  Maybe its time that we find ways to join with the ministries that are meeting peoples physical needs as well as their spiritual needs.
So what do you think?  Am I way off base here?  Is this passage talking about something totally different?  Would Jesus simply have them pray a pray and then leave them to struggle through life?

Living it

God is doing some real cool stuff right now in my own heart and I am stoked about it.  I just finished Matthew and now I am into Mark.  The stories of Jesus are amazing.  I have been trying to think a little deeper than surface level stuff in these stories.  The way Jesus responds to people.  The way he simply left the crowds to spend time alone.  And to think about the fact that Jesus after preaching the truth simply let those who did not want to beleive walk away.   I have enjoyed it.   

I also just finished reading UnChristian and man is my head spinning over that one.  If you combine reading UnChristian with the Gospels and the way Jesus lived, it really makes you think about the way you live out the Christian life.  

So after finishing UnChristian I was deciding between “IT” and “Living the Resurrection” and I decided to go with “Living the Resurrection”.  I really enjoy reading the writing of Eugene Peterson.  When I graduated High School I was not really into reading the Bible until I got ahold of Eugene Petersons translation “THE MESSAGE”.  It changed my life as I finally began to understand how the stories of the Bible related to my life in Christ.  I actually began to live it because I was falling in love with Him and His word.  

So….food for thought from  “Living the Resurrection”.

 Without wonder, we approach spiritual formation as a self-help project.  We employ techniques.  We analyze gifts and potentialities.  We set goals.  We assess progress.  Spiritual formation is reduced to cosmetics…..

Spiritual formation is distorted into moral workaholism or pious athleticism.”  

When we were children, we were in a constant state of wonder…
But gradually the sense of wonder gets squeesed out of us….
….when it does, it turns out that we have not so much been worshipping God as enlisting him as a trusted and valuable assistant.   

OUCH!!!  I want to live it.  I want to live out my love relationship with God.  I want Him to be the Center and Focus of my life not just some assistant or Santa Clause who I go to for WHAT I WANT.   

God help my lifestyle to be YOUR GLORY!!!

Simply love them, even when they dont believe.

One of the most frustrating things for me as a follower of Christ is to meet someone who knows all of the facts about Christ and yet they seem to reject HIM.  I guess I get so caught up in how amazed I am at Gods desire to have a relationship with man, and the simplicity of surrender, that I cant understand why or how a person could know so much and yet reject Him.

It is so hard to simply love people.  Our beliefs in God and the cross are often so strong that we just want to see people give their lives to Jesus.  Our desire to see people come to know Jesus might actually be pushing people away from HIM.  Many feel that we don’t love them, we simply want to convert them. (See UNCHRISTIAN).   The two most important commandments in the Bible are: Love God and Love others. So often we think the Great Commission is the Great commandment.  I don’t think the Great Commission will happen unless we are living the Great Commandment.

Okay, so here is when it gets hard.  I’m struggling with this one.  So your loving God and your loving your neighbor. You love your neighbor soo much, but you know they don’t have a relationship with God.  You’ve talked about your faith, they know all the facts, yet they chose not to believe.  We still called to simply love them.  It is so hard, because we want to see them give their lives to Christ. I know so many loving Christians who have pushed friends and family members away, because they try so hard to convince them to give their lives to Christ. I know its hard, but if we would simply love them, I wonder what God would do through our love.  We can’t change their hearts.  That is what God does.

Matthew 28 offers both me some hope, but it does not make it any easier, for me to sit back and simply love them.  After some of the disciples saw the risen Jesus, some still did not believe.  That’s crazy. If I was Jesus I would have wanted to punch those non believers in the face.

“ARE YOU KIDDING ME.  I DIED, ROSE AGAIN, AND I AM HERE BEFORE YOU AND YOU STILL DONT BELIEVE.”

The Bible does not say the exact response Jesus had.  Was He Shocked?  Did He get mad?  I know in John 20 Jesus simply showed doubting Thomas the evidence.  If I had to guess, I would say that those who still didn’t believe still were loved by Jesus. I doubt He stopped showing them love, simply because they didn’t believe.  Actually, if you read Matt 27-28 I know Jesus didn’t stop loving people, simply because, they didn’t believe.   Can you imagine how hard that was?

Matt 24 is hard

Many of us like reading the passages that seem easy to understand and explain.  I don’t believe Matt 24 falls into that category.   As I read Matt 24 this morning my thinking definitely got a little deeper than normal.   I am simply going to share some thoughts for you to wrestle through.   Maybe you feel you got this passage and understand it completely, let me challenge you to lay your thoughts aside and simply read these statements.

  1. 9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. 10 And then many will fall away…

    Okay so these “many” that fall away, are they the ones who professed Christ (believed in Him) but their lives were not changed?  Maybe they didn’t truly repent? 2 Cor 7:10, Lk 13:3.

  2. 12 “And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.

    So they were in love with God?  But now their love for God is grown cold because of sin?  Are they still believers?  Were they ever?   So at least they are not lukewarm? Revelation 3:15

  3. 13 “But the one who endures to the end will be saved.”

    Okay, so now what does verse 12 mean?  If you grow cold you have not endured to the end?  Was your faith ever really real?  Or is this saying the “Ones saved always saved” idea is incomplete?

  4. v.15-21 paint a pretty ugly picture.  A “dreadful” time it will be for “pregnant women and nursing mothers”.  “Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath.  For then there will be great distress.”  This does not sound like a pleasant time.  Yet it appears that believers will be here for that period.

    22 And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.

    So as a believer am I ready for the tough times?  Am I going to allow my love to grow cold?  Hard times are coming.

  5. This part excites me.   V.31 And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

I could go on and on about this passage.  Like how in verse 20 Jesus tells them to pray that their flight doesnt happen in the winter or on the Sabbath.  It appears he doesnt know when it will happen.  Does verse 36 confirm verse 20?

Have fun thinking deep about Gods word.    As you think deep about a passage like this make sure your drink deep of God’s love.

Crazy Thought

My buddy Ron got me started on this book by Francis Chan called “Crazy Love”.  I am only 30 pages in but I highly recommend it for any one who is truely serious about have a love relationship with God.  I guess I have enjoyed the book so much because many of the thoughts and feeling that I have been having regarding God are also described in this book.  Let me give you an example.

In the preface Chan says that he hopes “reading this book will convice you of something: that by surrendering yourself totally to God’s purposes, He whill bring ou the most pleasure in this life and the next.” 

Chapter one is called stop praying.   “He says what if I told you to stop talking AT God for a while, but instead to take a long, hard look at Him before you speak another word?”   A lot of times I feel that I stink at being a christian and a pastor because I am not a “prayer warrior”.  I find myself not offering to God the sacrifice of fools.  See my post from January regarding that. 

Did you know that God is Holy, all knowing, all powerful, fair and just?  Why then do we think and act as if life is all about US!  Chan quotes Psalms 115:3 whichs says “Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him.” And then Chan says this. “Yet we keep on questioning him: ‘Why did You make me with this body, instead of that one?’ ‘Why are so many people dying of starvation?’…..” WHY WHY WHY.  

Let me answer the question of starvation quick.  This came to me as I read this and I think its awesome.  BECAUSE we make life all about US instead of God.  If we would simly live as God desires for us to there would not be starvation.  Its not God’s fault.  He loves us and because of that love He gives us choices.  We chose to go our own way.  Gods way is to “Be fruitful and Multiply”.  To “fill the earth and subdue it.” See Genesis 1.   The Bible talks over and over again about our responsibilty to care for the poor and those in need.   Life stinks and is not fair because we chose to life for ME, MYSELF and I.   Sin messed this place up not God.  

I could go on and on, but I am going to stop.  Go pick up “crazy love” and read it.  Or better yet pick up your Bible and fall crazy in love with the Author.  For some of you to fall deeper in love with God your going to have to begin focusing on God and not yourself.   Your gonna have to make your live about living for Him and not me.  My Lifestyle His Glory. 

This might me that you will have to STOP PRAYING at GOD and simply listen.  Talk back when HE speaks to your heart and you feel the only response that you can give is by speaking back to Him.

I guess part of my crazy thought is the fact that I am still captivated and fascinated by God.  I dont have Him figured out.  Often I dont understand Him.  I simply dont get it.  But I am falling so in love with Him and the scary thing is…. I am not following anyones model of what this love should look except Christ who offered His all for His love of the Father.

Need to breathe

What a week!!  This past week flew by as my wife and I served along side of four other church in Lebanon.  Iglesia El Faro hosted three other churches at YFC as we did various projects in the City of Lebanon.  We cleaned up local parks, had prayer walks, planned and ran 3 carnivals and saw God bring 15-20 new people into His family.

There are so many God stories from this past week but I only have time to share one.  We were doing a prayer walk around the church building when God brought to my attention two guys playing basketball.  I went over and began to talk with them.  Before I knew it I had Jhonna translating my conversation into Spanish as I shared Jesus with them.  God really laid it on my heart to share with the one guy.   At the end of our conversation He was still not ready to receive Christ, so I prayed for him and he left.

The story could have ended there but God laid it on Jhonna’s heart to go deeper with the other guy. After 30 mins  Josh gave his life to Christ.  Praise God!  I thought it was awesome how God worked, not just through me but through Jhonna.

After a long week of ministry I can finally take some time to breathe.  I have a busy week as I leave for another missions trip to Washington DC on Sunday.

We had a great week and my hope and prayer is that I and the others that I served with this week will be faithful to God no matter what happens in life.  He is worthy of our worship.  Need to breathe?