Does Jesus Want Me to Suffer?

March 19, 2009

“…if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” – Romans 8:17

“The single greatest cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny Him with their lifestyle that is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.” – Unknown

“The only way we avoid suffering is when we set up boundaries, because if we are following our mission for Jesus we will run into suffering.” – Francis Chan

I have been struggling as of late with my actions as one who proclaims to follow Jesus and calls myself a Christian. I have been wrestling with what Paul says “provided we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him.” So how do I suffer with Jesus?

I heard Francis Chan preach on, avoid setting up boundaries. Avoid saying that I will only love this much, or give this much, or serve this much. Its following the example of Jesus dying to self and giving all for the Kingdom.

I am so thankful/proud of the fact that my church is not a church that preaches that Jesus = less suffering. Because that is simply not true, if you follow Jesus you will suffer for it. The Gospel of Jesus is not a message of Health, Wealth, and Happiness that is the American Gospel.

We as Christians, and myself in particular tend to lose sight of the Kingdom/Jesus mentality, we fall into this “I am saved, are you saved?” way of thinking. The focus is getting souls saved, ours and others, and we tend to forget about becoming more like Jesus and becoming consumed by Him.

you’ve got a vision of some far off day
beautiful and bright
a carrot hanging out of reach
but always in your sight
there’s an icon in your mind
that stands for happiness someday
a picture on the wall
of a kingdom far away

but oh, it’s closer than you think
oh, it’s breathing in between
oh, it’s closer than you think
oh, it’s right under your feet

– Fiction Family

My life is not reflecting suffering for Jesus and I repent of that. I have set up boundaries in my life where Jesus can’t go.

If life truly is as Annie Dillard puts it “the way we live our days is the way we live our lives” than I am failing. Jesus is not my focus every day. I want to be fixated on Him, to have every day of my life about Him.

My life needs to be consumed with excitement looking to that day I meet Jesus face to face. But in the meantime religion won’t do, morality won’t do, I need Jesus, I long for Him.

I sometimes feel Jesus singing this to my soul….

“Oh, and when will our heartbeats fall into two lines
And the click-clack of our boot heels beat out the same time
Oh, and when will your hand find itself in mine?
Oh, and when will your hand find itself in mine?”

– Noah and The Whale

I want Him to possess me in all I do. I am struggling and learning each day how to I become more like Him, totally wrapped up in the cause of His love, advancing it, recognizing it, and affirming it. I want to suffer, I invite suffering as I let down my boundaries and hope to die to myself.

Do you struggle with this?

How do you approach the way we should suffer for and with Jesus?

How are you living your days? Is that what you want your life to amount to?

“Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope” – Romans 5:2-4


Carmel or Tariyaki Sauce

December 11, 2008

“Create in Me a Clean Heart Oh God”

– King David

“Some may trust in _(insert your trust here)__, and some in _(and here)__,

but we trust in the name of the LORD our God”

-Psalms 20:7

“Oh when I look to the shape of my heart,
It’s separated only by scars
That cut in and cut out
Oh and leave me without
Oh a heart that functions at all. “

-Noah and the Whale

ar120565372793288

It was 6:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning and I was fuming with anger at the irresponsible and childish individuals who have been renting out my 555 sq. ft. house here in Puyallup. I was inside a refrigerator with a rag and razor blade scrapping out what I can only guess was either carmel or teriyaki sauce or a mixture of both (i hope it was and not something else, but i wouldn’t be surprised). It was disgusting and infuriating to be doing this, cleaning up the mess someone else has made of something that was mine. Consider that, I did all this while listening to worship music but worship was nowhere to be found.

It was not fair.

My heart was in a dark place and I was mad. Pissed off. Beyond words.

I chose to linger in that place of hatred and seething resentment and I enjoyed it. It felt good and it felt right. And why not? I was owed this! I could feel this way, I get a pass right?

I was wronged.

I was wrong.

My heart was far from Jesus and it hurt. How could I find my way back to Him? Does He feel the same way toward me that I felt toward these people who had been so irresponsible and selfish.

How can His love be that big?

He works in ways that blow me away.

I was at church the following Sunday and my good friend who is one of the Pastors there was preaching on desperation. Wow can you believe that? I love the ways of God. He taught on the point of desperation that was displayed in Jyris needing his daughter healed and the Woman Jesus encountered who was bleeding for twelve years and was healed by the touch of His garment. The service was AMAZING and spoke right to my heart where I was hurting. The teaching, coupled with the worship and the awesome and I believe “Mystical” sacrament of Communion helped heal my heart. Jesus was glorified in the service and I went to Him broken and in desperation. I would like to share with you this song that is so on point about the condition of the heart.

Bruised

Don’t build the castle
At your centre
Oh the heart can’t love
What it can’t remember
Be willing to be hurt
Oh be willing to be bruised
‘Cos a heart that doesn’t love
Is a heart that isn’t used

Oh turn your love to life
Let your love shine through
In everything you do
Let your love shine through

Oh I thought I felt my heart beating
Well I thought I’d never know that feeling
Oh I thought I felt my heart beating
Well I thought I’d never know that feeling

Well my heart was like a cave
Now light shines in it
Oh to fall in love is brave
Oh my heart was like a stone
That barely moved
Oh my heart was like a magnet
Oh for hearts like yours

Oh turn your love to life
Let your love shine through
In everything you do
Let your love shine through

-Noah and the Whale

Its breath-taking, the power of Jesus. He proclaimed in His home town of Nazerath what His mission on this earth was all about and is still about today. Thank you Jesus.

Isaiah 61:1

1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners…

As one of my favorite speakers, Steve Brown says… “You think about that. AMEN”


Just the Sound of His Voice

August 21, 2008

 “Can you hear me now?” –Verizon Commercial Guy

“He talks with me and He tells me I am His own” – In the Garden

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me” – Jesus

“His voice is so sweet that the birds hush their singing” – In the Garden

Sometimes I feel like the guy on the Verizon commercial saying to God “can you hear me now?” and I get nothing.

I can’t get God to hear me. Or He hears me and doesn’t respond to me. I am pleading to Him, and He is silent. What is going on?

God is always talking; I know that for a fact. He loves His people and He speaks to us all the time, it’s just the other end of the conversation that is blocked, we don’t always listen. Story after story in the Bible is filled with prophets and kings talking to God and receiving His directions. I don’t believe that the Bible is full of exceptions; God spoke then but not now? I don’t think so. “If you are a good parent and you give good things to your children then wouldn’t God who is your Heavenly Father give you good things as well?” We speak to our kids and they know what we ask of them, God does the same.

Do you know how many times in the Bible the phrase “He who has ears let him hear” is said? Jesus spoke that phrase 10 times in the Gospels and before that in the Old Testament “ears” are referenced to over 60 times. Rarely, are these passages referring to physical ears in fact Jesus did not refer to just those who have physical ears but spiritual ears that are open or need to be opened. I have been struggling with God over this issue for many weeks. I talk to God almost every night while I am at work by my self, and if some one were to watch me they would think that I a crazy because I talk out loud and it must look and sound very strange. It is mostly a one sided conversation and I ask God regularly to give me ears that hear His words and a heart that is soft like His. I have felt alone even though I know that He is with me and I know He indwells me. In the past I could feel Him correcting me all the time and leading me to a higher kind of life, one that is of His Kingdom and not of my own. But now He feels so distant. I would love to hear from Him, directly and unequivocally, wouldn’t we all? There are brief moments of reprieve and I have put faith in the fact that God speaks to me and I hear Him in small subtle ways. He corrects me and illuminates my path with Truth found in His word and by the working of the Holy Spirit within me. What I feel I need is a moment like Jesus had at the Jordan River when his cousin John baptized Him and God spoke a benediction on His life and mission.

  • “In Him was Life and that Life was the LIGHT of men”
  • “This is my Son, chosen and marked by my love, delight of my life.”
  • “I am especially found of you” – The Shack by William P. Young

Then my world of darkness was pierced by LIGHT! He came to my rescue! He touched me. He spoke and I heard it! GOD had mercy on me and came to me and Spoke into my Soul. WOW GOD, WOW!

This is what I wrote that night when God came and spoke to my soul, not audibility but just as real to me:

“God met me tonight! He told me HE LOVES ME, FORGIVES ME, and He is PROUD of ME. He brought a smile to my face and a joyous laughter to my soul. My face hurts from smiling. He is so good to ME. He ROCKS! God is so COOL. My heart overflows with delight in my God because He told me HE DELIGHTS in ME!”

That’s it, He told me that He loves me, forgives me, and is proud of me. Simple and so very sweet. It all started when I took a ten minute break from my work to stop and talk to God. I told him about my weekend and that I loved Him and that I was sorry for the sin that I had committed in the time between we last talked. I praised Him and called Him “daddy” and “abba” which I don’t usually do, I usually call Him Jesus but tonight I felt like calling Him “daddy” but I don’t feel that that was the “magic” word to use to get God to speak to me, it was just different. I related to Him differently, as my Father and He responded to me differently in kind. It was an intimate moment with My God. I was praising Him and I suddenly felt the need to say “I know you Love me”, “I know you forgive me”, and “I know you are proud of me”. I stopped. That was weird; I don’t do that, what in the world was that? I asked Him “was that you? Are you telling me that You love me, You forgive me, and You are proud of me?” Do you know what He said? “Yes”. I was floored, blown away, in shock. I started beaming with a HUGE smile on my face that wouldn’t go away for like ten minutes, and I couldn’t stop laughing like some one told me the funniest joke and I couldn’t stop. When I calmed down I went to Him and asked is there anything else? Do you want to say anything more to me? I felt Him say “be content”, and I was.

How did this happen? Why did this happen? Why now? I don’t know and I don’t care, all I do know is that God showed me awesome and incredible love. He intentionally spoke the words that I needed to hear and that encounter was…WOW! I feel like He is strengthening me and encouraging me for the road to come. I am starting Seminary next month and I couldn’t think of a better way to go into this time of intensity then with an awesome benediction by my King and Father.


Guns and Why the Right Wingers are NOT the Party of Jesus

July 3, 2008
I have had a very enlightening past three months listening to all the media garbage that is out there and finding where I stand in today’s political spectrum. I keep this in mind as I try to find my place; I do this standing on the foundation of an apprentice following the Way of Jesus and His Kingdom first and foremost.

 

I am a recovering Republican and talk radio listener, but I would still consider myself politically conservative. There are many reasons why the Republican Party and the Democrat Party do not represent the party of Jesus Christ. I want to address one of my problems with the Republican Party today, followed by a critique of the Democrats to come.

 

I recently read a story in the news where a man in Texas was just acquitted of any wrong doing in the slaying of two individuals in November of 2007. This man saw two individuals breaking into his neighbor’s house while they were not home at the time. He felt it was his responsibility to intervene in this situation where there was no individual in harms way. This man was on the phone with a 911 dispatcher who was pleading with him not to get involved. This man had a shotgun in hand and kept saying “I can’t let them get away with this” as he was prepping the shotgun to go out and confront the men, the 911 dispatcher was voicing what I believe Jesus would have been saying:

 

“Stay inside the house and don’t go out there, OK? I know you’re pissed off, I know what you’re feeling, but it’s not worth shooting somebody over this, OK?”

The Man said “I don’t want to, but I mean if I go out there, you know, to see what the hell is going on, what choice am I gonna have?

The Dispatcher said this in response, “That’s alright, property’s not something worth killing someone over. OK? Don’t go out of the house, don’t be shooting nobody. I know you’re pissed and you’re frustrated but don’t do it.”

More dialogue followed but this was the last thing the man said before he went to kill the two individuals,

“Well, here it goes buddy, you hear the shotgun clicking and I’m going.”

He walks out to confront the men at this neighbor’s home and the following takes place.

“Boom! You’re dead!” he shouts. A loud bang is heard, then a shotgun being cocked and fired again, and then again.

The two men died there on the scene.

Wow. What goes through your mind reading that as a follower of Jesus? I read this story yesterday in the news and I heard the talk radio hosts talking about it today and the reaction was cold hearted and calloused. They were defending the actions of this man, as if he was a hero that saved a bunch of children from being killed by two monsters. Talk about detached from reality; this was extreme in my opinion.

What is my reaction to all this? I am whole heartedly against what Rush or Sean Hanity have to say about this, because my heart breaks. How can it not? I love Jesus with all I am and I pray for things like this to happen, not the shooting but my heart breaking over this event involving people I don’t even know. I feel overwhelmed. How can we have a State in our Union that acquits a man of any wrong doing in a case like this? He confronted and killed two men who were NOT HARMING any one!

I am as outraged at this almost as much as I am about what the Democrats do in defense of “women’s rights” that leads to 3,000+ deaths of unborn babies each day. Where are we going in America? If the above scenario is what it means to have “gun rights” in America today where we feel it is more important to protect property than to think twice before we go shooting off a shotgun then I don’t want anyone to have any “gun rights”! And if that makes me a wimpy weak liberal to the conservatives then I am guilty as charged because Jesus tells me this “Love your enemies and pray for them” and the Word of God says this in Col. 3:1-3 “If you have been raised with Jesus, seek what is above where Jesus is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on what is above, not what is on the earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Jesus in God.” Do you see what we are called to do here? Seek the things of the Kingdom, protecting life at all costs, even if that means letting two punks get away with some valuable property. But we don’t get that in America today and the Republican Party doesn’t get it when it comes to situations like this involving guns. By so fervently protecting the Second Amendment they have overlooked the devaluing of human life. Even if they break the law, these two men are still precious in the eyes of God and that life is still sacred to Jesus even if it is not sacred to those in the Republican Party.

A few scriptures come to mind in closing.

“Love your neighbor as your self”

“Seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness”

“Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.”

“For God so loved the (whole) World that He gave His one and only Son…”

“What you have done to the least of these you have done to ME”

Amen.