Friday Funny for you!
Truth Time: I’m good at hiding the truth about me from myself. I’m better at hiding the truth about me from others. And so are you–
Well, this morning I’m waiting to leave to take my lovely wife, Debbie, to the surgery center for some minor surgery. You do know the difference between minor and major surgery, don’t you? Minor surgery is what someone else has–major surgery is what I have! No seriously, I do not take what is about to happen to her lightly. I’ve read those “disclaimers” about all that can go wrong. Really, no surgery is minor. But let me quickly get to the point.
Debbie has been having chronic sinusitis. And it’s not only affected her sinuses, but also fluid has built up behind her right ear drum, making it difficult to hear. Besides, everyone knows how annoying it is to have all that stuff behind an ear drum, am I right? Scans revealed a small cyst on the right side of her sinuses that is causing that sinus fluid back up, all the way to her ear. Dr. David told us that by removing that small cyst, it should allow all that fluid to drain out. Her body will function as it is designed, and hopefully this works. Otherwise, it may require the insertion of tubes to keep that nasty and annoying fluid from impairing her ability to hear.
Well, what does all that have to do with the Kingdom Life? I’m so glad you asked. The fluid behind her ear, that feeling of her ears being “stopped up”, started somewhere else. Her sister and I offered to put a vacuum cleaner up to her ear and see if we could suction that fluid out. She didn’t go for it.
You see, the problem isn’t in her ear. The source of the problem is somewhere else. Can you see a spiritual truth developing here? Until the cause is fixed, the problem persists. It’s easy to get fixated on what others are doing wrong. The chaos of my Tribe right now is being caused by this very thing. By pointing the finger at what others are doing wrong, it’s easy, so very easy to ignore what’s wrong with us. We think that the ills of our culture can be fixed if we can just get all those others “fixed”
Well, guess what. Treating symptoms will not cure the illness. Ask Debbie about this. Multiple shots and rounds of decongestants, antibiotics and multiple shots haven’t done a thing for all that fluid behind her ear drum. The problem is somewhere else–something growing where it shouldn’t be growing. So Dr. David is going to remove that “shouldn’t be there foreign object” so that her sinuses and ears can function like they are designed. Until that cyst is removed, nothing will be as it should.
Have you had your “AHA!” of where all this is going? If you haven’t, then let me draw you a picture; and explain it with a passage, actually a song written by one of the most prolific song writers ever: Psalm 139:23-24 (NLT)
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Point out anything in me that offends you,
and lead me along the path of everlasting life.
Without Dr. David having ordered the CT scan, without the radiologist knowing how to interpret the results, Debbie’s only hope would be more of the same–meds and shots. But those will not solve her problem. That foreign-it-doesn’t-belong-there object needs to be removed. I wish I could take her place and let the doctor work on me–but that won’t solve her problem.
Truth Time: I’m good at hiding the truth about me from myself. I’m better at hiding the truth about me from others. And so are you–unless we follow the advice of this song: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you.”
But don’t stop there. That next line is the all important one: “and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” The truth is that for God to lead us along that path of everlasting life, sometimes there are things that get in the way of us following. There’s a technical term for those things that get in the way of following Jesus. It’s called SIN. Sin is that foreign object that gets in the way of us living the way God designed us to live.
So, today, focus on this Psalm. Ask God to point out those nasty, annoying “cysts” that’s getting in the way and causing problems, lots of problems. Then yield and submit to that Divine Surgical Procedure we called “Redemption”. Allow Him to remove that sin in your life. Oh, and be sure you go back for regular “scans”, the struggle against sin isn’t over, yet. But it will be some day–it will be!
Love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to Him!
Your Heart, Life, And Mind Is Being Fed By Either The Manna Life Or Living Bread Life.
We are continuing to look at The Boldest Statements Jesus Ever Made. We are looking at some of those times when Jesus said: “I am.” Last week we looked at the Story of the Woman at the Well. But remember that Jesus never said “I Am” because He didn’t speak English. He would have spoken Hebrew and the word he would have used was Yahweh. Yahweh is the name God revealed to Moses.
It is God’s eternal name, His name for all generations to remember. It was illegal to use that word in public, yet Jesus used that Name when He revealed himself to that woman. Claiming to be Yahweh, He backs up that claim with another moment when Jesus uses His Eternal Name. It’s found in John 6:32-51 (The Message)
32-33 Jesus responded, “The real significance of that Scripture is not that Moses gave you bread from heaven but that my Father is right now offering you bread from heaven, the real bread. The Bread of God came down out of heaven and is giving life to the world.”
34 They jumped at that: “Master, give us this bread, now and forever!” 35-38 Jesus said, “I am the Bread of Life. The person who aligns with me hungers no more and thirsts no more, ever. I have told you this explicitly because even though you have seen me in action, you don’t really believe me. Every person the Father gives me eventually comes running to me. And once that person is with me, I hold on and don’t let go. I came down from heaven not to follow my own whim but to accomplish the will of the One who sent me.
39-40 “This, in a nutshell, is that will: that everything handed over to me by the Father be completed—not a single detail missed—and at the wrap-up of time I have everything and everyone put together, upright and whole. This is what my Father wants: that anyone who sees the Son and trusts who he is and what he does and then aligns with him will enter real life, eternal life. My part is to put them on their feet alive and whole at the completion of time.”
41-42 At this, because he said, “I am the Bread that came down from heaven,” the Jews started arguing over him: “Isn’t this the son of Joseph? Don’t we know his father? Don’t we know his mother? How can he now say, ‘I came down out of heaven’ and expect anyone to believe him?”
43-46 Jesus said, “Don’t bicker among yourselves over me. You’re not in charge here. The Father who sent me is in charge. He draws people to me—that’s the only way you’ll ever come. Only then do I do my work, putting people together, setting them on their feet, ready for the End. This is what the prophets meant when they wrote, ‘And then they will all be personally taught by God.’
Anyone who has spent any time at all listening to the Father, really listening and therefore learning, comes to me to be taught personally—to see it with his own eyes, hear it with his own ears, from me, since I have it firsthand from the Father. No one has seen the Father except the One who has his Being alongside the Father—and you can see me.
47-51 “I’m telling you the most solemn and sober truth now: Whoever believes in me has real life, eternal life. I Am The Bread Of Life. Your ancestors ate the manna bread in the desert and died. But now here is Bread that truly comes down out of heaven. Anyone eating this Bread will not die, ever. I Am The Bread—Living Bread!—who came down out of heaven. Anyone who eats this Bread will live—and forever! The Bread that I present to the world so that it can eat and live is myself, this flesh-and-blood self.”
Have you ever thought about how images of bread are used in our ordinary day to day life? “That’s the best thing since sliced bread. He’s rolling in the dough. Hey Dad, I need some bread, (meaning money). Their bread isn’t buttered on both sides (meaning they lack common sense). Man, he’s toast.” In Middle Eastern culture, and Mediterranean culture, eating bread together is a sign of friendship and connection. Bread is a symbol for life.
When it comes to people’s spiritual lives, they will be living either the Manna Life or the Living Bread Life. There is a sharp distinction between the two. There is no confusion about which life we are choosing the live. And make no mistake about it; it is our choice whether we live the Manna Life or the Living Bread Life.
Let’s find something we can all agree on: We have no control over some things that come our way in life. There are some things that happen to us that are absolutely beyond our control. Does everyone agree with this? I didn’t say we liked it; just that it happens. Now, my next point is something that you may dislike even more, but it’s the truth: We Do Have Control Over How We React To Those Times. How We Live Each Day And Our Reactions To Life As It Happens Come Out Of The Life That Is In Each Of Us. If you can remember only one thing today, then remember this:
Your Heart, Life, And Mind Is Being Fed By Either The Manna Life Or Living Bread Life.
One life never satisfies and the other will always satisfy and see us through anything that life throws our way. Let’s see the difference by setting up today’s passage. The day before Jesus had fed a large group of people with a young boy’s sack lunch of 5 barley loaves of bread and 2 fish. Now Jesus and the 12 are on the other side of the lake, and the people have come to Jesus again. This time they are seeking a sign. They wanted a sign from Jesus before they would accept Him as Messiah. They pointed out the Moses had given them Manna as a sign that God was with them. Now they want Jesus to give a sign that God was with Him.
OK, excuse me, but He has turned dirty water into the most extraordinary wine, healed every disease put before Him, cast out demons, opened eyes and ears, and gave voice to those who could not talk. And added to all that, He taught the Kingdom principles with authority, like no one else ever had. And NOW, they want a sign? Jesus doesn’t waste His time or their time. More than a sign, Jesus talks about life through the images of Manna Life and Living Bread Life. Think about the differences.
1. What Does The Manna Life Look Like?
What does this life feel like? Well go back to the time when God gave them Manna. It appeared every morning on the ground. Each family could pick up enough for just 1 day, and no more—except on Friday. Then they could pick up enough for 2 days. It never lasted longer than that. Any thing left over would be ruined the next morning, so they would have to go out and pick up more.
Every meal was the same. The husband or kids never asked “What’s for supper?” It would be manna casserole, manna pot pie, manna sandwiches, manna stew, manna soup—and for dessert it was always manna cake. I mean, there was not a whole lot of variety to their meals. And they had to do nothing to do to get it. They didn’t have to trade or buy or barter for it. Every morning, day after day after day, there it was. And every morning, whatever was left in the jar was ruined. And here was where the problems started. It produces the same problems today:
- They Believed They Were Entitled To It. They did not have to buy it and it was always there every morning. They begin to feel like they were entitled to it. Few things are worse than living every day with a sense of entitlement—that life owes you something simply because you are breathing and alive. Living With That Evil Spirit Of Entitlement Will Remove From Your Heart Any Sense Of Gratitude. Oh, for sure, at first they were grateful. But after only a few weeks of it, things changed. First, they always expected it to be there,
- They Got Tired of it. But can you blame them? The same meal day after day after day is
enough to make them want something else.
This is what the Manna Life is like. It’s waking up every morning to the same
- There Is No Sense Of Excitement In The Manna Life.
- There Are No Adventures To Explore in the Manna Life.
- There Is No Anticipation For Anything Different To Happen in the Manna Life.
- It’s The Dull Life. Nothing to inspire the mind or stir up the heart.
- It’s The Life That Is Afraid To Get Out Of That Comfort Zone. Comfort is more important than Purpose.
- It’s The Life That Is Unwilling To Take The Risk. Playing it safe is the key to survival for them.
- It’s The Life Spent In Waiting And Then Wondering Why They Never Experience The Great Victories In Life. Now mind you, they haven’t sought great victories, they’ve never engaged in the battle—but they expect great victories and are disappointed.
- And For Church People, It’s The Life Sitting In The Pew Sunday After Sunday, Who At Best Think It Is Enough, And At Worst Think This Is All There Is To It. They never get to experience the surprises of God’s presence, God’s grace, and God’s activities. And sadly, they never experience the joyful surprise of being used by God to touch another life and watch God change that life.
It’s routine life, and nothing is more boring, nothing is more unfulfilling, and few things make a life more ungrateful, than the Manna Life. These people around Jesus thought they wanted the Manna Life. But Jesus did not come to bring the Manna Life, but something so much better. He came to bring them and us the Living Bread Life. Jesus is much more than a free lunch—more than a vending machine dispensing what we want.
2. What Exactly Is The Living Bread Life?
What does it feel like? Look like? Allow me to sum it up for you.
- It Is The Life That Is Deeply And Intimately Connected To Our Heavenly Father Through Christ Living In Us. It is living your life with the assurance and confidence that Jesus actually lives in your heart—lives in you so that you can grow to become all God sees in you!
- It’s A Life That Is Abundant In Power, Love And Grace. There is more than enough of Jesus living in the heart of every believer to accomplish anything that God wants. It’s not just enough for today. It’s enough for tomorrow, and the next day and the next, all the way to eternity. There is enough grace, enough mercy, and enough love to lead us right up to the very throne of God.
- It’s The Life Of Adventure. When the Hebrews would wake up each morning in the wilderness, they didn’t have to look far to find the manna—just go outside and pick it up. But Living Bread Life calls us into an adventure where we trust in Him to provide what we Cannot See Or Even Imagine. God wants to take you on an adventure in life where nothing is bland or dull. It’s the life of excitement knowing that Jesus lives in you, and that He is going to use you in ways you never imagined.
- It’s The Life Of Exploration. It’s going down different paths, trying new ways. The only thing we know about the future of this life in grace is that one day, we will end in His eternal presence. So every day offers us the opportunity to find that God is always doing something new. It’s exciting to be a part of what God wants done. God is anything but predictable when it comes to how He works in this world.
- It Is The Life Of Contentment. Let me tell you something about real life. There will be times of abundance in our life. And there will be times of scarcity. There will be times when all of our ducks are in a perfect row and all marching to the same beat. And there will be times when the ducks will scatter in all directions. There will be times when the sailing is smooth as silk. And there will be times when it will feel like we are on a monster roller coaster. But the one thing about the Living Bread Life is that in every condition and situation, we will learn to be content—that we are at peace with God, self and the world.
The only source of life for all of this—comes through the only thing—rather the only ONE—who will be present in both extremes and every point between them. I’m talking about Jesus living in your heart. You know He is the one who blesses us far more than we deserve. And you know He is the ONLY one who will stand with us to strengthen us and guide through the rough waters and over the steep mountains.
We can choose to accept the Manna Life with all its hollowness. Or we can choose to accept The Living Bread Life with all its Hallowedness—by inviting Jesus, The Living Bread, into our hearts. For someone here today, this may be the very first time for you to invite Jesus into your heart. For the rest of us, it’s our time to renew our decision by inviting Jesus to go deeper into our hearts. Just bread on the table will leave us hungry again. But the ONE who dares to call Himself Yahweh! Living Bread, can and will satisfy our deepest hunger and deepest thirst.
- Come Up With An Idea Of A Way We, As A Church, Can Get To Know People Around Us.
- Come Up With An Idea Of How We Can Connect Other Churches Around Us In Order To Do More For The Kingdom Of God!
It was early yesterday afternoon when I first noticed it. The sound was at first faint and distant. But it grew louder and louder, deafening even. I quickly recognized it as the sound of people wailing and crying. Between the wails and the cries was the sound of moaning. I wondered, “What’s going on? Did the rapture happen and I missed it? Are hyper-Calvinists right, and I wasn’t one of the chosen?” I didn’t have a clue as to the cause–just the wailing and the crying, and the moans as they were trying to catch their breath.
Then last night, I discovered the reason when I checked in on my Twitter account: Facebook and Instagram were DOWN! Oh dear Lord! Is this a sign of the apocalypse? I reflected for a moment, thinking about the deafening sounds in the hills and hollows around our community. Suddenly, clarity came to me, and I began to understand what all those people were crying, wailing and moaning about.
The world was missing out on how important they are. The world wouldn’t know what they ate for lunch; the mean people they encountered, the times they didn’t get their way. In short, their small, selfish world imploded on them. They were no longer the center of the universe. It was as if a black hole had swallowed them up. They felt insignificant because they couldn’t tell how many liked their latest post. Self-esteem plummeted like the Stock Market.
But the most disturbing cry I heard was from those who self-identify as “Christian”. They were moaning, “Oh, dear Lord, sweet Jesus, how can the world know how much I love you? I can’t ‘like’, ‘share’, ‘type amen’, ‘copy and paste this as my status’. Merciful God, how can they know I’m not ashamed of you if I can’t like, share, type amen, copy and paste this as my status? Sweet Jesus, what am I going to do? How can I let the world know about you, my friends (some of whom I’ve never met, but they are my FB friends) won’t be able to see I’m a Christian! Please, Jesus, heal Facebook and Instagram. The world needs to know You, and how can it if I can’t like, share, type amen, copy and paste this as my status? If you can’t heal Facebook and Instagram, then Jesus just come on back. There’s nothing I can do for you anymore.”
Now if this all sounds sarcastic to you, then please, let me assure you, IT IS! Sarcasm is one of my spiritual gifts, although the Holy Spirit is probably scratching His head right now wondering, “When did I give Randy that gift?” OK, so Facebook and Instagram crashed yesterday. I would like to think that it was caused by the Holy Spirit (now I can’t give you any Scripture to back this up) to get people to rethink about their life–especially those who self-identify as “Christian”.
I know I’m a day late and a dollar short, but may I give you wailers, criers, and moaners some advice? The next time Facebook and Instagram crashes, calmly remind yourself that you are not the center of the universe. Oh, that realization will hurt and hurt deeply. But when the truth dawns upon you, you will find a lot more calm and peace in your life.
And to you who self-identify as “Christians”? Try this to let your friends and the world know you are a Christian. Be kind to everyone. Help anyone and everyone you can. Volunteer at the local food bank. Help sort clothes that were given to help those in need. Get to know your neighbors. Listen. In other words, let your attitudes and actions announce you are indeed a Christian, not your posts.
Facebook and Instagram crashed. The world did not end. Jesus hasn’t returned, yet. And the hyper-Calvinists are still wrong. So…..Love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to HIM! And you can live without Facebook and Instagram….
The Deepest Longing Of Every Human Heart Is To Be Near To God
For this Lenten Journey, I want us to look at the most profound statement ever made by Jesus while He was here in our human form. Throughout Lent we are going to be in John’s Gospel looking some of the “I-Am” sayings of Jesus—those moments and situations where He identifies Himself in a very specific way.
Let’s lay the groundwork for today’s passage before I read it to you. Moses had this unbelievable encounter with God. We call it “The Burning Bush” story. God tells Moses to go back to Egypt and inform them that God has appointed him to lead them to the Promised Land. But before Moses agrees, he wants to know who it is that is sending him. They will want to know who has sent him, so Moses poses the question: “Who shall I tell them sent me?” And in that moment God reveals His true Name: I Am Who I Am! In Hebrew, the word is Yahweh! And God goes further with this statement:
This is my eternal name, my name to remember for all generations.
Why am I telling you all this? Because without this knowledge, nothing that we look at this season will make any sense. We are going to journey through Lent by looking at certain moments when Jesus says, “I Am”. The first one we need to look at is from John 4:4-26 (N.L.T.).
He had to go through Samaria on the way. Eventually he came to the Samaritan village of Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there; and Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime. Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Please give me a drink.” He was alone at the time because his disciples had gone into the village to buy some food.
The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans. She said to Jesus, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?” Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.”
“But sir, you don’t have a rope or a bucket,” she said, “and this well is very deep. Where would you get this living water? And besides, do you think you’re greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well? How can you offer better water than he and his sons and his animals enjoyed?” Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”
“Please, sir,” the woman said, “give me this water! Then I’ll never be thirsty again, and I won’t have to come here to get water.” “Go and get your husband,” Jesus told her. “I don’t have a husband,” the woman replied. Jesus said, “You’re right! You don’t have a husband—for you have had five husbands, and you aren’t even married to the man you’re living with now. You certainly spoke the truth!”
“Sir,” the woman said, “you must be a prophet. So tell me, why is it that you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place of worship, while we Samaritans claim it is here at Mount Gerizim, where our ancestors worshiped?” Jesus replied, “Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem.
You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”
The woman said, “I know the Messiah is coming—the one who is called Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Then Jesus told her, “I Am the Messiah!”
We need be begin our journey with boldest statement ever made by a human being. Jesus tells her: I AM! For what I am about to say, some would want to tar and feather me and run me out of town, but I’m going to say it. Jesus did not say “I Am”. Now, you look confused. “Preacher, you just read that Jesus said I Am.” But Jesus did NOT say I Am—because He did not speak English. Jesus would have been able to speak in both Aramaic and Hebrew. So when He identifies himself to her, the word He used is Yahweh!
The Name That God Told Moses Would Be His Eternal Name, The Name That People Would Identify As None Other Than The God Of Abraham, Isaac And Jacob.
Can you imagine the shock on this woman’s face when Jesus identified Himself as Yahweh? It was a name so sacred that Law prohibited its use in public. No human being since Moses was allowed to use that name. And no one dare named their child Yahweh! Yet this is the name Jesus calls Himself. What were the first thoughts running through her mind?
“Is he crazy? Has he been out in the sun too long? Is he playing mind games with me? Is he mocking me because I’m a Samaritan?” Whatever her first thoughts might have been, they didn’t stay long. Somehow she knows His words ring true, so she runs back into Sychar with the news, telling everyone she can find: “I’ve found Him! I’ve found Him!” And the people may have laughed, “Who, husband number 6?” She catches her breath, “No, no, I think I’ve found Messiah! I just know He must be Messiah!” I know it says she asked a question: “Could He be the Messiah?”, but it’s not a question of doubt. Hers is the question of hope. And here’s the one thing you need to remember today:
The Deepest Longing Of Every Human Heart Is To Be Near To God!
Hers may have been a tarnished hope, or it may have been a secret hope that no one could see in her life. But somehow, deep down in her heart, there must have been that hope that God would come near to her to satisfy the deepest longings of her heart.
As we make our Lenten Journey, we need to know that we are going to find that same longing in our heart—to see and experience the nearness of the One, True and Living God. And we can count on Jesus being that just for us, as He was for her! And it is all because of The Name: Yahweh! Jesus is Yahweh and here’s why:
1. He Is Yahweh Because He Looks For Us
Jacob’s Well was the place ordained by God for this woman. He Has A Place Ordained For You, To Meet Him Face To Face, For You To Surrender Your Life To Him. And Jesus planned it out for that moment when she would be coming to draw water. As Jesus and his entourage arrives at Jacob’s Well, Jesus announces, “Guys, I need to stop and rest; besides it lunch time. Tell you what, go into town to McDavid’s and get you something to eat, and bring me back a #7 combo. I’ll just wait right here. Now, go on guys.” Have you ever wondered why Jesus sent them ahead while He stayed behind? Well, I have and I’ve come to this conclusion. If there had been several of them with Jesus, that woman probably would have stayed away. But just one man there, it’s not as threatening to her. Jesus wanted this moment with her.
He had been looking for her and the time was right. And He looks for us. There are God-ordained moments where He is looking for us. He is looking for us to have this special relationship with Him. God wants us to have more than a mental knowledge about Him. He longs for us to give Him our hearts. But God-ordained moments go further than for us to become a Christian. There are God-ordained moments to comfort us, encourage us, strengthen us, and to take us deeper into this relationship with Him. And you never know when they will appear. This woman came in the middle of the day; not the usual time to draw water. And God may surprise you with ordained moments because He is always looking for us.
2. He Is Yahweh Because He Knows Us
Everyone in Sychar must have known this woman. 5 divorces and shacking up with another man? She must have been the talk at all the hair salons. They looked at her and saw someone who couldn’t keep commitments. They saw someone who had no morals. They saw someone whose only contribution to the community was to keep the gossip lines hot. They saw her as dirtied and all messed up.
The women of Sychar always went to the well early in the morning, but she would not have been welcomed then. They saw everything that was wrong with her. They thought they knew her. But there was so much about her they could not see because they had made up their minds about her. But Jesus knew there was more to her than what was on the surface.
Only God, Only The One Whose Eternal Name Is YAHWEH Can See Into The Deepest Recesses Of The Human Heart.
He sees the secret sins we hide from others. He knows the dark secrets we keep pushed down deep. But He knows more, much more. He knew what she was truly longing for, and He knows what we are longing for. Because He knows us, He knows what it will take to bring that hope alive in us. This woman wasn’t ignorant of God’s promises. She knew one day Messiah would come. And though it may have been a weak hope, there was the hope that Messiah would come to save her. Listen to your heart; your heart knows it wants to be known deeply and loved intimately by God. Yes, He knows our flaws and sins, but He also knows the real you—the one waiting to be born, waiting to be released upon this world and into God’s Kingdom.
3. He Is Yahweh Because He Offers Us Life
At Jacob’s Well this God-Ordained moment was for one single purpose: To Bring Real Life To This Dirty, Broken Woman! Nothing Can Give Us The Life We Long For, Only Jesus.
Some people settle for a life of thrills, but there are never enough thrills. Some settle for a life of wealth, but there’s never enough wealth to hold off the fear of losing it all. And some settle for a life of respectability—but they are hollow and empty inside. This woman was looking for life through one relationship after another. But none of them satisfied the cravings of her heart.
Nothing in this world can give you real, abundant, lasting, eternal life. This is something only God has—Jesus is Yahweh because only HE has the life that we hunger for. Only He has the life that will survive the ups and downs of life here on earth. Only He has the life that can hold up under the fiercest storms. Only Yahweh can offer us this kind of life—and He offers it as The Gift.
He and only He paid the price necessary to take away the dead things of our life, and put in their place Life. It’s not just any ordinary life, but the most extraordinary life of all—His Very Own Life. In this Lenten Journey, in your life journey, remember that There Is A Name For All Generations To Remember.
It is His Eternal Name, Yahweh and He is looking, looking for you because He knows you. He knows you need more than an ordinary life—but the most extraordinary life of all. Paul nails it when he describes this life in Galatians 1:27
And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory.
Only Yahweh, only The Great I Am can put real and abundant life in you—That life is Him In You!
- Has anything robbed you of hope? The news? This controversy going on in our Tribe? Guilt? Some fear, named or unnamed? Crushing grief that you keep holding on to, that you never completely give over to Jesus? Feelings of inadequacy? Or, how about despair, that you’ve given up on something, something very important?
- Give whatever that is up. Give it up to Jesus. Make it your offering to Him. He’s not looking for only the good things to offer Him, He wants the pain, the burdens that you carry to be given over to Him. You don’t have to keep carrying them because He carried that weight, while on that Cross!
- If you have given Jesus your heart, then declare this truth every day, all day long: Christ Lives In Me. When you doubt, say it: Christ Lives In Me. When you are afraid, say it: Christ Lives In Me. When that thing you gave up that was robbing you of hope starts to weigh on you again, say it: Christ Lives In Me.
Your Purpose Is To Know Jesus Deeply, Enjoy God Immensely, And Make Him Known To The World By Helping Others To A Saving And Growing Relationship With Jesus!
For the last 4 weeks we’ve been talking about Kairos Living In A Chronos World. Chronos and Kairos are the Greek words for time. Chronos time is measured time—a second, minute, hour, day, week, month, year. It’s That Time Between Punching The Time Clock In And Punching Out. It’s Endured Time. God offers us more—He Offers Us Kairos Time—Time That Is Rich And Full Of Experience.
There are so many Kairos moments for us to experience. Today, we’ll close out this series with the most significant kairos moment a disciple of Jesus can have: The Kairos Moment of Discovering Your Unique Mission. Knowing your Unique Mission in life is crucial. Talk about a powerful Kairos moment—it will change the way you live the rest of your life. Look with me at 1 Corinthians 12:4-7 (NLT)
4 There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. 5 There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. 6 God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us. 7 A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.
What could be more important than to be on a mission from God? You are 1 of a potential 7.6 billion followers of Christ. Yet, out of so many, God has called YOU to carry out His special mission in the world. Do you know what your Unique Mission is?
If you can remember only 1 thing this morning, this is it: Your Purpose Is To Know Jesus Deeply, Enjoy God Immensely, And Make Him Known To The World By Helping Others To A Saving And Growing Relationship With Jesus! If this sounds sorta familiar, then you’ve heard the Westminster Catechism.
People who choose to live in Kairos Time find their Unique Mission as we live out this purpose. Inside purpose, we always find the Mission. To Be A Real Disciple Is Not About Creeds And Rituals—It’s All About Relationship And Experience. I want to share with you how you and discover God’s unique mission in your life so you can have Kairos Living in a Chronos world!
1. First Of All, Make The Conscious Decision To Nurture God’s Thoughts!
It’s possible to plan out a day, a business agenda, a church agenda, or even life goals without knowing God’s thoughts and without the certainty of moving in God’s presence. Before Jesus ascended back into heaven, his last words of counsel to the disciples and to us are: Wait until you’re sure you’re moving with God’s plan. Hang on until you know you have God’s presence, because this mission is impossible to do in your own strength and resources!
As you walk in step with God, you have a tremendous privilege of knowing the heart and mind of God. Anyone—not just pastors or great saints or Bible scholars—can dream the dreams of God. God promises that all Kingdom People, regardless of gender, race, economic status, social status, or age will be given the ability to think God’s thoughts for the purpose of acting on God’s plan for the future.
It says so in the book of Joel, that Peter quoted on the Day of Pentecost: Acts 2:17-18—17 ‘In the last days,’ God says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams. 18 In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on my servants—men and women alike—and they will prophesy.’
Those days are the time between Jesus’ Ascension and His Return. You need to begin right now nurturing God’s thoughts. Most of us need to learn this nurturing process.
Some People Develop Inspiring Visions For What Their Life Potential Could Be, But Few People Have The Sense Of Supernatural Intervention That Provides For The Ability To Think God’s Thoughts Today. The world teaches that life centers around self-focus. But a person filled with the Holy Spirit puts the focus on knowing and pleasing God. Spirit directed people gear their whole lifestyle toward the purpose of God.
In Mark 1 we read about Jesus going out to pray before sunrise. What was he doing before his day began? He was Dream-Visioning and Thinking God’s thoughts in order to direct the purpose for His day. Because Of The Holy Spirit You Can Dream God’s Dreams And Know God’s Thoughts Right Now.
We have to go on a course that is not always comfortable or natural and that is moving counter clockwise to the rest of the culture because we will be surrendered to a God-focus. We develop the ability to think God’s thoughts and then move further toward God’s preferred future.
2. The Second Step Is To Connect With People Who Share God’s Passion!
You need to connect with people who will encourage you forward in God’s Mission. This is what mentoring is all about.
You Will Begin Thinking Like The People With Whom You Spend The Majority Of Your Time. If people around you think money, you will begin to think money. If you spend time with negative people, your attitude becomes negative. If those you hang with people who are critical, you will be critical. I want to hang with people who throw more fuel on the fire of God! You need mentors.
But the truth is, there are not enough mentors to go around. Mentoring cannot always be done through 1-on-1 relationships. But you are still responsible for managing your own mentoring needs. Time boundaries and geography restrictions are no excuse for not building a solid network of mentors. You can have mentors who may not be aware they are your mentors; they may not even know you exist, yet you can draw from their wealth of wisdom.
Let me share with you some of my mentoring network: My Dad, Debbie, Carrie Thompson, Chuck Swindoll, Max Lucado, Mike Stenson, Tim Buchanan, Reggie McNeal, John Wesley, Kyle Idleman, Mike Stonbraker, Matt Redman. Some I know personally, others I’ve never met, but they and many others, are a part of my mentoring network.
You may never meet a lot of the people who are a part of your mentoring network, but you can listen to them and be the better for it by spending time with them. Who are the mentors in your life?
How much time do you spend under the influence of Godly People? It will be these godly people who will help you discover your mission from God and encourage you to move forward into God’s future for your life.
3. Finally, Name Your Unique Mission From God!
Allow me to make an important distinction: Your Unique Mission Is Different From Your Life Purpose! My life purpose and your life purpose is simple and it is our overall reason for being here on planet Earth. Our life purpose, whether we’re a pastor or factory worker or teacher or retired, is to Know Jesus Deeply, Enjoy God Immensely, And Make Him Known In Our World. This is the purpose for every person. Young, old, rich, poor, men, women—it’s the same.
Your mission is highly specific. Your Unique Mission Is To Make Him Known By Helping Others To A Saving And Growing Relationship with Jesus! My mission is clear to me: To fulfill my Unique Mission, I am to be a pastor, preacher, teacher and leader. When you identify your mission, it will be as specific as mine. Here is a way to find the Clarity you need for your Unique Mission:
- Your Mission Will Come Out Of Your Passion.
- It Is Something That You Are Drawn To.
- It Will Probably Be Connected To Your Life Experiences.
- It Will Be Something You Feel Is A Gift From God.
- You Can’t Keep From Doing It.
Will living out your mission cause you to leave your job and seek employment at a church or ministry? Maybe, maybe not. Will it cause you to bring your skills, your talents, and your gifts to the church for use? ABSOLUTELY!!!
You decide who your mentors will be depending on your life situation. Choose people in your mentoring network who can help you name your mission. Your mission is for the body of Christ, the Kingdom of God!
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to use your life to carry out God’s Dream. In the power of the Holy Spirit, you can make a difference in your world. Identify your unique mission and serve God by serving people. Should you choose to accept this mission, God will be with you every step of the way. Your life will not self-destruct, but will grow and blossom as you live in Kairos time!
- Build your network, and write down their names. If they are local, get with them frequently. You need at least 3 or more people you can meet with face to face.
- Study about Spiritual Gifts and name your gifts.
- Don’t be afraid to try something different. Failure isn’t fatal, but fear is!
My dear Sister and Brother Centrists and Progressives in the United Methodist Church,
I do not know if you will read this or not. But sometimes…sometimes the heart must speak. I will be honest with you upfront: I am first and foremost, a servant in the Kingdom of God. This submission to the Rule of God is absolute and unconditional; though at times I am rebellious and disobedient. I am secondly, an Orthodox Methodist, a label that has been put upon me, yet I wear it with humility and honor. Knowing this about me, you are now free to stop reading and make up your mind about me, without ever knowing what I will say. Based upon past behavior, I will not be surprised if some of you do just that; but for you who are still reading, please allow me the grace you say you so deeply believe in, be given to me as well.
I have a question ONLY for Centrists and Progressives.
“Why should I remain in the United Methodist Church, a church I have loved, supported and serve in the name of God’s Kingdom, when so many of you hate me?”
I am sincere in this question. I acknowledge, with much shame as a follower of Jesus, that some who say they follow Jesus have said and continue to say hurtful and hateful things at the LBGTQIA community. And to my United Methodist sisters and brothers who have said those things, please, go join the Westboro Baptist Church. If you live too far away, start a local chapter. I’m sure they would be glad to become a multi-campus church.
Allow me to also say to my Sisters and Brothers who are Centrists and Progressives in the United Methodist Church, what I am about to say is not a blanket, “one-size-fits-all” comments. Some of you share the love and grace professed to even those who do not agree with you theologically. And to you who practice what you preach, please accept my gratitude for your consistency.
Alas, not all show the love and grace they profess. Rev. Tom Berlin has compared me, and my sisters and brothers in Christ, to a virus. More specifically, an Ebola Virus. Furthermore Rev. Berlin, under the banner of love and grace, you said that unless the UMC credentials the LBGTQIA members, then my credentials should be removed. You see, Rev. Berlin, I have been divorced…and remarried. Sir, you are right, myself and the gay community do share something in common. We are sinners. My sin isn’t any worse than any other sin. Sinners are equal at the foot of the cross.
Rev. Berlin, I have confessed my sin of divorce (along with several other sins). This means I agree with God, that it is sin in my life. I have also repented. I have turned away from ever divorcing again. And I turned to the only place I knew I would find grace–at the feet of Jesus. He forgave me. I even went through a process with my annual conference who held me accountable to confession and repentance. And now, Rev. Berlin, though I have confessed, repented and turned back to follow God with all my heart, you say I am unfit (after all, that’s what taking away my credentials because of divorce means) even though I’ve gone through God’s process for sinners, and the church’s process to continue in ministry. Though I and my LBGTQIA sisters and brothers share the bond of sin, I have admitted my sin, while the LBGTQIA refuse such an acknowledgement. See, Rev. Berlin, though we are the same–we are different in how we choose to deal with whatever that sin may be. Because I choose to admit it, I’m mean and unloving? Really?
And to Rev. Adam Hamilton, you choose to belittle me and those like me. You consistently espoused hate at us in St. Louis. And afterwards, your accusations continue to flow. You say I am homophobic (though I have friends who are gay). You say I treat them like second-class citizens (though I cried with someone who lost their partner, because we are friends).
You say I am refusing them grace (though I have served them Holy Communion and will continue to do so). You insist that I am full of hate because I choose to believe the Truth about marriage. That I am hateful because I cannot embrace a theory that isn’t even accepted in the behavioral science community. I am accused of not caring, all because I believe and am convinced that the Bible clearly defines marriage as a man and a woman. Rev. Hamilton, you say that I am not open to the Holy Spirit because I believe in the Biblical teachings on sexual ethics. I did not realize that God had given up the right to judge of my heart and given it to you.
I did not watch all of the 2019 General Conference, but I did watch a lot of it. I’ve also read the blogs, read the Tweets, and listened to the videos. After it all, I am left with only one conclusion: I am hated by the majority of United Methodists in my own country; this according to Rev. Hamilton. Even my former Bishop, Will Willimon, says that I am the problem–because I am over 40 years old.
So, my Centrist and Progressive Sisters and Brothers in Christ, I will ask you again:
“Why should I remain in the United Methodist Church, a church I have loved, supported and serve in the name of God’s Kingdom, when so many of you hate me?”
So, let’s disagree. Let’s hold to our positions with the vigor they deserve. Let’s be passionate. Let’s speak truth. But let’s also be humble. Let us love. And in this divorce of the United Methodist Church, let us love one another well.
Well, our Special General Conference is over, and for most of us, it leaves us with more questions than answers. Sadly, much hatred has been vomited out upon people. Maybe it’s because I’m an Orthodox-Kingdom-Believing-Follower-And Pastor, I feel like I, and like-hearted people have had the most projectile vomiting spewed out on us by those who consider themselves progressive-forward thinking-people-in-the-name-of-love-and-grace kind of people.
And there is much I wanted to say on Tuesday–because so much hateful words were projected onto me. I was hurt and wounded by the Tribe I have been a part of all my life–and I was angry. But The Spirit would not allow me to write what I was feeling. Probably because it would have been my own projectile vomiting towards progressives. (See, I did learn from my mistake last year!)
I promised I would speak to this event, and I am now ready. But not with my own words–but the words of someone much younger, and probably wiser than I was Tuesday. Below is the link to his blog. His name is Jesse Tosten. I don’t know him personally, but I want to get to know him.
Remember, love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to Him!
I met Keith in Chicago when the Wesley Covenant Association was formed. He says a lot here, and he says it with a lot more grace than I have in my heart right now. Maybe later I will add my 2 cents worth….
We are looking at 2 Greek words that translate time, Chronos and Kairos. We have only 1 word for “time”, but the Greek has these 2 words. Let’s give this simplified way to describe the 2 Greek words. Chronos is the unchanging ticking of the clock—a measured duration that consumes all.
Kairos Is The Wonderfully Unique Moments Where God Steps Into Our Space And Time—To Renew And Restore Human Hearts And Lives. Chronos Is Ordinary Time—Kairos Is Holy Time.
So that we can recognize Kairos Time and insure that we are living in Kairos Time, there are certain steps we need to take. First, we need to remember that God is in control of Kairos, not us. We simply need to be involved where God is involved in order to see it. Then we need to listen to God, not just hear Him—by being alert, sensitive and ready to move with God.
There is another step for us to take. It’s by Being Obedient. Obedience is a word that isn’t well received in our Chronos Culture. Our culture has replaced Obedience with holding onto views, beliefs and opinions that confirm whatever it is we want to believe. It’s designed to relieve people of responsibilities for their choices and actions.
And even in the Church Culture, obedience is seen much in the same way. I want to introduce you to a new word, a word I picked up from fellow blogger InsanityBytes. That word is Churchian. A Churchian is someone so deeply entrenched in the status quo of church that they reject everything contrary to what they believe and want. They look for confirmation for what they already believe and typically—what the average Churchian believes is something that makes them comfortable and is easy to follow. For example, “The Lord wants us to help those who are worthy of our help.” Or, “The Lord never puts more on us than we can bear.” But you won’t find those anywhere in the Bible.
Obedience is a word that is presented by both sides in a negative way. But it’s a word that we cannot avoid if we are going to seriously follow Jesus in life. It’s a missing word that we need to reclaim—but reclaim it the right way. Let’s look at today’s passage from 2 John 1:5-6 (TPT)
5 Dearest woman, I have a request to make of you. It is not a new commandment but a repetition of the one we have had from the beginning: that we constantly love one another. 6 This love means living in obedience to whatever God commands us. For to walk in love toward one another is the unifying commandment we’ve heard from the beginning.
If you can remember only 1 thing today, this is it: Obedience That Honors God—The Obedience God Demands From The Followers Of Jesus—Must Come From The Relationship, Not From The Rules.
Thanks to the Legalists and Modern Day Pharisees, obedience sounds harsh, difficult, and quite honestly, it is unfulfilling. Modern day Legalists and Pharisees present obedience in such a way that it puts more emphasis on the external than the internal—and all at the expense of the heart.
Obedience to God doesn’t mean that we give up the freedom of the heart. To the contrary, there is a real freedom that we find in the new heart—and this new heart calls us to obey. It’s this freedom that draws us in the direction of what Eugene Peterson once called in a book he wrote, A Long Obedience In The Same Direction.
Obedience Is Not The Relationship God Offers. But You Cannot Have The Relationship God Offers Without Being Obedient. And here in John’s letter, we have the way obedience works the way God has designed it—obedience that develops both maturity—and a life of holiness that pleases God.
1. Obedience Begins As A Decision
And the first decision we need to make is to admit our need for The Savior. Here are the first 3 critical decisions we must make about this need:
- We Are Sinners cut-off from God. We can’t save ourselves. If we bypass this step, we will never be able to have The Relationship God longs to have with us. Obedience grows from the heart that knows it is dead without being forgiven and delivered from our sin by the atoning work of Jesus on the Cross. None of us are exempt from it—that we are sinners. No sinner is any worse than any other sinner. We are equally sinners needing Jesus to deliver us from the penalty and dominion of sin.
- The Second Step Is To Confess. Confession means being of the same mind. It means we cannot follow Jesus into the life of holiness until we are of the same mind about what God says about our sin—For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. (Romans 3:23) Confession isn’t the same thing as admitting you sinned. Simply admitting you’ve sinned is like a child admitting they took a cookie from the cookie jar when confronted by Mom, acting like they are sorry and won’t do it again. But deep down, they really want another cookie, so when Mom isn’t looking the next time, they will get a cookie. Confession starts the process of changing how we see ourselves in light of God’s Truth.
- The Third Step Is To Repent. Repent Means That You Turn Away From The Old Life, And Move Into This New Life. Repentance doesn’t mean you have to feel miserable and cry your eyes out. You might need to do that—but tears of remorse are not enough. It’s like Peter preached in Acts 3:19-20—“And now you must repent And Turn Back To God so that your sins will be removed, and so that times of refreshing will stream from the Lord’s presence. And He will send you Jesus, the Messiah, the Chosen One for you.” Without turning back to God and His Ways, we haven’t repented, we’ve only admitted we are sinners. There has been no transformation—and transformation will NOT happen until we turn back to Him. Repentance is not repentance unless it includes the desire to turn back to God and live like He wants us to live.
God has only one plan for Salvation, and that is in Jesus Christ, through confession and repentance for those who will admit they are sinners. We obey God’s plan because we have been saved through His grace. If we try to have a relationship with Him in any other fashion, it becomes a negotiation—and God doesn’t negotiate.
2. Obedience Becomes The Choice
Every morning and all day long obeying God is a conscious and intentional choice. Every situation we face becomes a moment where we choose to obey God or disobey God. Everything in your life, everything you face, from ordinary moments to even painful moments, are moments we choose to obey God or disobey Him.
I think about Joshua’s retirement speech to the Hebrews in Joshua 24:15—“But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living.” Once you come into the Relationship, there’s more. Obedience Is Doing What God Wants Done—More Than What YOU Want Done.
And so you make a choice, every day and all day long. That’s what Peterson meant in his book—it’s a long obedience in the same direction. Your Choices Are Based On The Values Of The Land You Are Living In OR Based On The Truth Of God.
Too many are making choices based on the land they are living in—a land filled with idols and false gods. The land we are living in has declared war on the Rule of God! Our choice is either to surrender to the culture or to step into the realm of God’s Rule and join in the battle against Satan by living in obedience to God.
J.D. Walt, a powerful writer, teacher and preacher reminded me the other day of something very important. The Pharisees of Jesus’ day focused on the Rules of God because they thought God was in the Rules. Jesus came to proclaim God’s Rule! To experience Kairos, Our choice needs to submit our heart, mind, soul and life to God’s Rule over us.
3. Obedience Builds Into A Process
God created life to work for us and not against us. And life does work for us when we live it the way He designed it to be lived. To successfully and abundantly live this life He created, we live in His way, not our own way. Obedience Is Doing What God Says, How God Says To Do It And When God Says To Do It.
We learn to obey God’s Law—God’s ONLY Law—and that is to love the way He loves. We don’t obey so that God will bless us. We obey God because we Love Him! The difference is in these 4 words: Have To or Get To. Your heart and mindset will be the you either have to obey or get to obey! The New Heart God gives us responds with the joy of “get to”–you get to obey God because His heart and strength now lives in you.
I want to close out with this quote from Eugene Peterson’s book, A Long Obedience In The Same Direction, and it’s about obedience:
“We need roots in the past to give obedience ballast and breadth; we need a vision of the future to give obedience direction and goal.”
Obedience must be rooted in both—the Past AND the Future. Obedience without God’s Word is living without roots to hold us steady and strong in the winds of change. Obedience without the Future—that direction and goal—leaves us stuck in the past—and we miss out on God’s future.
Obedience is about becoming whole in Jesus. It is through obedience that we become whom God made us to be—the reflection of His Image.
Here Are Your Next Steps:
- Focus On The Relationship Not The Rules. This was where Satan began with Adam and Eve—The Rules. They forgot about the relationship because they were so focused on that Rule. Had their focus been on The Relationship, they would have made a different choice. Choose God’s Rule over the Rules of God.
- Start With One Area Of Your Life Where You Know You Are In Disobedience And Work With The Holy Spirit To Change That. Have you become someone else’s judge? Are you holding onto a grudge? Is there a bad habit? Align that one area of your life with obedience, and the others will begin to change, too.
Here is something I think is worth sharing. Cliff self-identifies as a centrist–meaning he’s not liberal and he’s not fundamental–yet even this centrist recognizes the fallacy of what is being pushed upon our Tribe… He makes some great points….
“We never talked about belief, we just shared our lives and spoke of the divine feminine in ourselves and in the world. The goddess we spoke of never felt to me like a substitute for God, but simply another aspect of the divine. Just like God’s aunt.
When I tell other Christians of my time with the goddess, I think they expect me to characterize it as a period in my life when I was misguided, and that I have now thankfully come back to both Jesus and my senses. But it’s not like that. I can’t imagine that the God of the universe is limited to our ideas of God. I can’t imagine that God doesn’t reveal God’s self in countless ways outside of the symbol system of Christianity.
In a way, I need a God who is bigger and more nimble and mysterious than what I could understand…
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