Tagged: Bible

Stop, imitate and listen…

What gets in the way of you being like Jesus to people who cross your path?

I believe this question needs to be asked daily. For some, we will need to pause and reflect on this in each moment as we interact with those around us. Out of all the questions that we hear being thrown around in Christian circles, I reckon this one should be taken fairly seriously.

Life gets busy, and before you know it we have spent more than half the day on auto, then all of a sudden weeks have passed and we stop and turn around and there is a trail of dead bodies behind us. People we have neglected. I know it sounds extreme, and your probably thinking I am being a bit to dramatic.

When I think about the question above, Ephesians 5;1-2 come to mind. We are to be imitators of God, walking in love, just as Christ loved. And with that word love I instantly think of the picture of kingdom love described in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.

I would say I am a fairly patient person, especially when it comes to people. There is nothing I love more than catching up with people, engaging in conversation and growing in those relationships. But sometimes when I get task focused, I am like an arrow aiming straight for my target. I wont let anything or anyone get in the way of my destination. Recently I was on my way somewhere and I bumped into a friend who stopped to talk. I will be honest, for half the conversation I wasn’t present as I was thinking I need to go, I don’t have time for this and at what point can I keep on moving. I forced myself to stay in the moment and after he had left my wife said WOW, you did really good Dave. We both laughed, but it got me thinking about how driven I can be sometimes, so much that I neglect the thing that I say is really important to me.

In the gospels we see Jesus interacting with all kinds of people, and from all walks of life. Whether he was surrounded by crowds all wanting his attention,  individual’s seeking him out for one on one time or people who were outsiders desperate for help, one thing is for sure, Jesus lived and breathed that Corinthians love. From what we read,  people didn’t always walk away from him excited and I reckon he may have found some interactions challenging, but he never allowed anything to stop him reflecting God.

So what gets in the way of you loving others like Jesus does? For me its a lack of patience when people catch me in the middle of a mission to get somewhere. I promise, as we invest in answering this question honestly and practice being like Christ when interacting with others, we will not regret it.

Peace to you

 

 

There isn’t always a boat to step out of, but plenty of comfort zone to get your feet wet…

Christians don’t always ask to be called out like Peter did that early morning on the boat. And we shouldn’t wait to be invited to step out in faith

I have been challenged by the story in Matthew 14:22-31. The disciples had been out all night on the boat that Jesus had sent them on and it was nearly dawn. They started to freak out as they thought they saw a ghost walking on the water. Jesus tells them to relax, “it’s just me” he says. What happens next is pretty amazing! Peter, (who knows what was going on in his head) calls out and asks Jesus to invite him out on the water with him. Peter then starts to walk on the wet only to be spooked by the wind and starts to sink. He cries for help and he receives it.

It’s not the part where Peter deliberately asks Jesus to call him out, or even that he stops focusing on Christ which causes him to sink that has got me thinking. There is no boat but there is plenty of comfort zone, and I haven’t gone out of my way asking him to invite me out to the unknown, but the fact that I have chosen to take following Jesus seriously, means that he is continuously saying “come”. I have recently entered a new season in my life, one that I know is going to shake things up, challenge old scripts in my head and heart, and force me to dig deeper into the word. Even though I have experienced many different forks in the road during my faith journey, making the choice to step out of what I know (or what I think I know) has never been easy. Each new chapter has meant pain and celebration. Lets be honest, who intentionally likes to be spiritually stretched. But its part of the package, when Jesus calls us down from the tree (or wherever you were staying out of reach) we also have a new membership in his Gym.

If you have any desire to Be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2), and have made daily choices to seek first the kingdom of God, then you know that during these times of self-examination, the holy spirit will make you aware of areas on your life that need to be exposed to the light, the stuff that gets in the way of you becoming more like Christ. Unfortunately  God doesn’t always directly say “that’s got to go”, which means we need to trust that Jesus is standing in the unknown waiting for us, and will reach out and grab us like he did with peter when he started to drown. Scary stuff!

I don’t have a 5 point plan to navigate through this new season I am walking through, but If  I remind myself of how God has provided for me over the years, and instead of being anxious, bring my prayers to him and continuously ask for wisdom,  God gives me fuel to keep moving and I have a new perspective. But of course this is only true for me;-)

So if you are in a similar situation, then I want to encourage you.  Its easier to stay in the same comfy space, and harder to get out of it later if you have made your home there. Don’t keep putting it off, make small choices to participate in the growing that God is doing in you. The fruit that is produced from this, will not only spur you on, it will also give others the strength to step out in faith as well.

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When Valium isn’t enough

I stood on the side of the street in my own little world and heard a loud angry voice coming my way. As I looked up from sending a text, my eyes met with the guy who was crashing through the crowd of people. He came to a sudden halt and shouted at me “Do you know what you have just done”? I had no idea what he was talking about but as he came closer to a big smile appeared on his face. “You are a #@$%-ing human valium”! I laughed at this but he went on to share with me that someone had hurt him and caused him to get anxious and extremely angry. He said he wanted to kill someone but while walking past as soon as he saw me all the anger vanished and he felt at peace. We spoke for 30 min about his life, struggles and what he hoped for. I have been called many things but never a human valium.

Valium is used for anxiety. Valium can also be used to treat trembling, states of confusion or anxiety associated with alcohol withdrawal. It is also used to treat panic attacks. I can see why people would turn to valium to relieve things that are hard to manage in their lives. With the recent events that have taken place in the world and all the stuff we that don’t hear about the need for medication will no doubt be on the rise. More than ever Christians need to be available to be a sort of medication to a world that is full of chaos and pain.

From the book of Matthew chapter 5

13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Jesus is saying we are the salt of the earth, the light of the world. Yep, sometimes people will need medication to get through the day, but what would happen if we took seriously what Jesus is saying here. How would it impact us and others who come into contact with us? As I continue to work out my salvation on a daily basis, I am realizing more and more that my faith journey is not just about my relationship with Christ and the benefits of my internal transformation, but how the renewing of my mind will impact others.  This is not some new profound thought and doesn’t just apply to me. I believe there are many who are part of the body of Christ who are neglecting this part of running the race. Whatever the reasons for this happening, its time to take hold of the truth that Jesus is speaking about.

Salt enhances the flavour of food and is used to de-ice sidewalks after its been snowing. Light replaces darkness and allows people to see more clearly. Salt and light are good things, but when its Jesus Christ telling us that is what we are then its not just salt and light, its God fuelled. When I take the time to have dialogue with God I often pray and ask that I will see people and situations from a kingdom perspective, that I will see what Jesus sees.  Its amazing what takes place when we see with our spiritual eyes and ears.  Its even more profound what others see when we have committed ourselves to being available.

Straight up, the world needs some good flavour, and those who are walking on unstable ground need something to help them move forward.  and you only have to take a glimpse at the news or look at your  feed on Facebook to see that darkness and shadows are very real in this world,  and a light that can pierce that darkness needs to be present.  Thank God it is, Jesus is very much alive and we, the body of Christ are his hands, feet, ears and tongues. The bible says we have the mind of Christ so connect with him to be used, to be that person who counter attacks anxiety and causes people to feel at peace.

If you want this, to see the world differently and to see people as Jesus sees them, and most of all be the salt and light that he says we are, be prepared. Sometimes you wont like what you see, you may even grieve, but those who are seeking truth will see him in you and will often be drawn to you. Read the word, be in constant dialogue with the trinity and place yourselves in the company of others who can encourage and support you to be this God fuelled salt and light.

Thanks for dropping by and reading

Starving depression and feeding life instead

Since the death of Robin williams I have been involved in many conversations about depression and suicide. I myself suffered from this monster for a number of years and the depression did lead to thoughts of taking my own life. But I am still here. Being a follower of Jesus Christ and living with this illness is controversial to some and to others it’s something very real.

I am a big believer in the supernatural when it comes to the Christian journey, the benefits of being part of a family where your father just happens to be the creator of the universe, but all to often when it comes to the subject of illness, especially mental health, it’s ignored or forgotten, that because of the fall, our brokenness and the bodies we live in, well we are not immune to all pain. Amen to having the mind of Christ and to being a new creation but then there’s the issue of our humanness

Everyone’s journey is different, but I believe if your part of the body of Christ, then are are certainly things that one can do to not just simply survive during depression, but actually live as well. So what I’m about to say is not the only way but after years of struggling and working out how to seperate myself from depression while finding my place in the kingdom, I think it’s important for all Christians, especially those who are suffering, to hold on to certain things.

Isolation is a killer, when the shit hits the fan many people will isolate themselves and doing this is asking for trouble. I don’t think Christians are meant to be alone so when we make a choice to cut ourselves off from friends,family or church it creates an opportunity for the father of lies to move in an ransack our spiritual and mental lives. Self examination is less likely to take place and hopelessness moves in

Christian or not hope is a very powerful thing. I’m sure we have all met people who either say they have lost hope or they don’t bother hoping anymore. But when we are the ones that forget what hope looks like, well it can feel like your the walking dead. It’s important and awesome to have hope in the grace of God and our new life in Christ, but that stuff is even more powerful when we can see how that is connected to our human lives, vocation and using our gifts to contribute to the world. 

I spent years suffering and choosing to suffer alone but after I became a Christian I was introduced to community, allowing others to speak Into my life and learnt that I must participate in the process of sanctification. These things changed my life and I received much healing from past chaos, depression and patterns that were doing me no good. I’m in no way perfect and of course we all have our bad days but I would say
that making a choice to no longer isolate ourselves, holding on to hope and putting ourselves in a space where other Christians can encourage us, challenge us and walk beside us is a powerful weapon to counter attacking depression.

God never works in any particular order when it comes to this stuff, and he is always working in our lives, but sometimes we need to starve the things in out lives that that want to kill us-Depression, and instead feed the things that that will transform and save us-Hope, Community and life giving Choices.

If your reading this and you are suffering from depression then I want to encourage you. It’s worth holding on, you will benefit from making yourself vulnerable by allowing good people into your life and your contribution to the world and the body of Christ is needed. God knew you before you were conceived and knows you now and your life is worth living.

A time to climb

A dude climbs a tree to get the attention of a guy he must see, and he does so because maybe it’s the only way he can be seen.

It is Jesus that is passing through town, and not only does he acknowledge the short guy in the branches but he then invites himself to zacchaeus’s house to hang out.

In Luke 19:1-10 we read about a man who is a tax collector, a profession that would have no doubt made him a very lonely man. Oh he would have had plenty of cash to throw around, but it’s safe to say that his family would have been the only ones who may have benefited. He may as well of been a traitor to his people as long as he worked for the Romans.

Jesus sees zacchaeus and tells him to get down from the tree, but the reason for this request is not so Jesus can tell him off in front of the crowd for his dodgy career choice. 
Luke 19:5 NIV
[5] When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”

Once again Jesus turns everything upside down and shows that grace has more power than the law. And it’s because of this interaction that Zacchaeus announces that not only will he give much of his wealth to the poor but he will repay anyone who he has ripped off..times 4. Wow, after all that I wonder how much this guy would have had left in his pockets?

What could we possibly learn from this story in the gospel?
•Sometimes we may have to go out of our way to see Christ
•Whether we recognize the darkness in ourselves or not, Jesus will still call out, but not to shame or rebuke our behavior
•Any experience had with Jesus will challenge the way we see things and will often leave us with a choice to do things differently

We may not be tax collectors but we certainly do, think and say things that are dodgy towards others and even ourselves. But Christ calls us like he did Zacchaeus, not because of who we are but because of who he is…and sometimes you will need to put yourself in a position where a dialogue can be had

Why Bother?-Read it and find out

“The Bible is..as necessary to spiritual life as breath is to natural life. There is nothing more essential to our lives than the Word of God”–Jack Hayford

During my 13 years of being a christian i have been involved in a number of Bible studies, but latley i have been thinking a lot about how much time i actually spend studying the Bible.  I have always believed that this book is very powerful and has the ability to change lives. However when it comes down to it i often treat it like any other book. The Bible is unlike any other book in history. If this is the case then i must treat it very differently to all the other books.

Is doing a bible study the same as studying the bible, and how many of us who call ourselves christians actually intentionally spend time reading, meditiating and applying the word to our lives? Is it enough just to read a few lines here and there and never actually pick up a commentary or concordance, make notes about what God is saying in scripture and to our lives today and eventially equip ourselves with the words that we so often say come from the creator of the universe?  I would say No and No.

There was a time when i thought that deep committed Bible study was only for Pastors, missionaries and hardcore well known Christian theologians of the past and today. It takes time to sit, tune out from the rest of the world and explore what God is saying in the old and new testament. Who has the time or energy to do that kind of study anyway? I certianly didnt, so instead i spent time reading books about the bible which is much easier but i wonder how much i benifited in the end. I dont doubt there are normal everyday Christians out there who actually invest a lot of time in getting the most out of this book that has impacted their lives, but i wonder how many people are missing out because they are to busy to slow down, dont think it’s for them or find it a bit of a painful exersise.

There are many verses in the Bible that tell us how powerful scripture is and how it can be used in many areas of our lives. It is a gift from God to us where he reveals his nature, his story, our story and his response to a fallen world. Most of us have heard of the Bible impacting indaviduals and communities, some have experienced awesome peace and others answers to challenging questions or circumstances in their lives. I think it would be safe to say that all Christians at some point in their lives have been confronted with the power of the word of God. One peace of scripture that i really like is Hebrews 4:12. If it is true(and i believe it is) and the Word is Living, Active,Sharper than any Double-Edged Sword, Penetrating and is able to Judge then wow, we are really priviledged to have such a book and should actually be really keen to open its pages everyday and for more than just a moment.

As i write this i am thinking of how i will approach my own Study of the Bible. I want to take it seriously and i believe all Christians should. We are told in the obove scripture that it is Living and Active. If we really want to live and be active followers of Jesus Christ isnt it our responsibility to do more than just leave our Bibles on a shelf? Im not sure how long my exuses like i dont have the time, it’s to hard to understand or i just cant be bothered will work, but i do know that every time i put it off i am missing out on what God has to say.

If you are a christian and any of what i have written is true for you then maybe its time for a change. I encourage you to get started on a serious study of Gods word. If you already do, i think that is awesome and i hope your sharing what you have learnt with others. And if your reading this and you wouldnt call yourself a christian or you have never really even picked up a bible then i hope you will because God wants to show you so much. Start with the Gospels.

Jesus said in the book of matthew chapter 4 verses 4 “It is written, man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God”.

Thanks for reading and feel free to leave a comment.

 

Clean and Cancelled

I am enjoying the Gospels all over again and finding the way Jesus interacted with people, especially the Pharisees very interesting and dynamic.

Luke 7:36-50- A sinful woman anoints Jesus’ feet

Imagine you have being invited to some ones house for a dinner party and on arriving you are not greeted at all, not shown in like everyone else nor do you receive a hand shake or a hug. You would probably feel pretty embarrassed or angry and want to communicate how ripped off you feel. Or you could just storm out and think twice about returning to that persons place.

Now what if the person who was hosting the party was a big gun in your community and had only invited you to make sure you were no competition and they had no intentions of being hospitable towards you in anyway shape or form. You would probably pick this up early in the evening and confront the person or leave.

In the Gospel of Luke we read about a Pharisee that has invited Jesus to dinner. This would not have been some small uneventful gathering as it was a time for all the religious blokes to get together, show off and probably have deep discussions about the law and the meaning of life. The washing of feet, a kiss on the cheek and putting oil a guests head were all important parts of welcoming but none of this process took place with Jesus. I don’t think this Pharisees intention was to welcome Jesus into the religious community.

From the beginning of his ministry Jesus communicated love and freedom to the people around him and no doubt this would have concerned the religious elite as they had made it very hard for anyone apart from them to be free. They had their reputations to protect and power to hold on to and this guy Jesus could ruin their whole business if they were not careful. We see how this Pharisee felt towards Jesus in the way he did not welcome him like any other guest and we can assume that this was no friendly invitation.

The thing I find interesting is the fact that Jesus would have probably known exactly why he had been invited to the Pharisees house. If I was in the same situation I would probably reject the invitation or after a while of being ignored eventually get into a confrontation in front of all the guests. If Jesus had done either of these things it may have given the Pharisee more ammunition to shoot him down. As we read on we see it might as well have been Jesus who was in charge of hospitality, and it would be him who would do the shooting.

In verses 37-38 a woman who had lived a sinful life started to weep at Jesus’ feet, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.

I am reading a book at the moment where the author describes this event from her perspective. This woman has been following Jesus for some time and has been impacted by his ministry. He has seen and valued her, which most men would not have done. (She may have been a prostitute) She has followed him to the house of the Pharisee and has witnessed no welcome for the man who has forgiven her and restored her life. She is so angry because she knows Jesus deserves more but wants to bless him in some way to show her thanks, so she falls at His feet not really sure what to do next and doesn’t care what anyone, especially what all the men will think.

If anyone knew how woman should conduct themselves in that day, it would have been the Pharisee and from his perspective he was probably thinking that this was an act of lustful desire toward Jesus and he was actually enjoying it (Jesus did not say stop). This would be the perfect time to show Jesus who was more religious. I can imagine the Pharisee standing up and sweeping is arm to get everyone’s attention and in verse 39 he says “If this man was a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is-she is a sinner.”

I have never read Jesus flinching at any attack from the Pharisees and this would be no different. Instead he did what he does best-Tell a parable to communicate how God see’s things, and this probably had the same kind of impact that a bullet would have. Jesus goes on sharing a story of two people who owed money to a money lender, one owed more than the other. Neither of them could pay back the money so their debt was cancelled. The Pharisee knew that the one who owed the most would have loved the money lender more, but Jesus wouldn’t stop there.

The carpenter was brilliant at waiting for the right time and place for confrontation and this was not just an opportunity to make a fool out of the Pharisee in front of all his guests, but a chance for the religious leader to see truth, even if it hurt. In a couple of verses Jesus Highlights that the woman did what the Pharisee did not do and also went on to forgive her sins, which would have made the host burn with anger I think. More importantly, through telling the story about the two people in debt to the money lender and than having both their debts completely cancelled, another message was being communicated-and everybody present most likely understood.

Both the woman and the Pharisee were living a life of sin and had debt neither of them could pay back. God saw them both as sinners and was willing to cancel their debt. The Pharisees thought so highly of themselves that they wouldn’t associate with anyone who they thought were unclean and I reckon in that moment when he realised that Jesus was placing him on the same level as a prostitute and that he also needed forgiveness from God, it  would have of been a massive wake up call.

Often we can be so consumed by ourselves that we get separated from the world around us. Everyone else has the problem and we lose the ability to show and receive mercy. Jesus on the other hand knew what was important to him, and it cost him his life, and knows exactly how to give grace and space. I see the impact he had on the woman who fell at his feet and I wonder how much he wants to impact our lives.