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


For where two or three are gathered…

March 10, 2009

“We few, we happy few, we band of brothers!” – William Shakespeare

“As Iron sharpens Iron, so one man sharpens another” – Jewish Proverb

I have few close friends so I try to cherish the ones I have been blessed with. Yesterday was a day that will cement in my mind and soul as a day that I grew closer to two men I call my friends.

“Faithful are the wounds of a friend” – Jewish Proverb

The following is not an account of wounds from a friend but it was an interesting experience to say the least. I got a call from my friend Petie yesterday afternoon, asking me if he could use my help for a couple of hours.

I gladly accepted and decided to meet up with him and another friend of ours, Josh. The favor was to help him go and pick up a hot tub for him to surprise his wife with for her birthday. Sounds simple and straight forward, cut and dry? Well that was not how the whole “adventure” turned out.

After a drive to Bellevue and filling the time with good conversation, we arrived and proceeded to examine where we were going to pick up this hot tub. To our surprise, the tub was about a third of a mile into this property described by Josh as, “Over the river and through the woods to Grandma’s house”, which was not far off because there was a creek, some woods, and wetland involved.

Well we got to the tub and found it in great shape. Petie tried unsuccessfully to bargain with the man selling the tub, but still ended up purchasing it for a reasonable price. This is the point in the story where it gets dirty, because we could not simply back up the truck to the tub, oh no we had to ROLL the tub through the woods and wetland to the truck, this took a little under an hour to accomplish.

We were dirty, cold, and using a lot of our upper body strength, which consequently for me is not very much (I told them, they called the weakest link). It was hard, but we had a blast joking about it and just getting through it as guys do, “grab it and growl”!

As crazy as this account sounds, it was fun. I am reminded of this passage in the Gospel of Matthew where Jesus is talking about how we as brothers in the faith are to handle situations together.

“Take this most seriously: A yes on earth is yes in heaven; a no on earth is no in heaven. What you say to one another is eternal. I mean this. When two of you get together on anything at all on earth and make a prayer of it, my Father in heaven goes into action. And when two or three of you are together because of me, you can be sure that I’ll be there.” Matt. 18:18-20.

I love that, “When two or three of you are together because of me, you can be sure that I’ll be there”. It felt that in what we were doing, helping a brother out in love and friendship asking nothing in return was a moment where Jesus was “sure to be there”.

I believe that we had fun and enjoyed this time of misadventure together, it was worship in some strange sense, and I felt God breathe into me. These guys mean more to me because of this. They are good men who I am proud to call my friends.


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

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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”


The Stench of My Sin

September 18, 2008

“Create in me a clean heart Oh God!” – King David

“Oh me what have I done, Oh me what have I done?” – Madeline Adams

“Sin is not just disobeying a law, it’s a missed opportunity” – N.T. Wright

Last week my church put on this drama which I was honored to take part in. I started front and center on stage before the congregation in a white shirt, then a figure in black approaches and proceeds to blemish my shirt with black paint. During this assault I stood there and took it while words were playing on the screens saying: thief, stupid, dumb, ugly, I hate you, I wish you were different, what is wrong with you, etc. With each blow came a word or phrase. Then after the message was given I came back up on stage and all blotted and spotted when a white figure came and struggled to take my blemishes away but I refused until I eventually gave in. He ripped off the soiled shirt and underneath was a pure white one and then we walked off stage as One. It was a very powerful service and one I will not quickly forget.

“Oh Lord, I’m overcome in wanting what is wrong.” – Madeline Adams

I have always had in my mind the image of sin causing a cube in my heart to round into a sphere. Let me explain. My dad gave me this image when I was young, that if you don’t go to Jesus and talk to Him about the wrong you have done then your sin causes your heart to get numb. The effect of sin is that the cube knocks around in your heart with its edges and it hurts, that’s good because that means that you have a soft and sensitive heart. But if you don’t talk to Jesus and come broken and in need of fixing to Him, well then your cube wears down from knocking into the sides of your hard heart and turns slowly into a sphere that doesn’t knock against anything. The inside of your heart gets so calloused because of built up sin and then you have a hardened heart.

“Does God have Himself an X-Ray, to see inside me the stench of gin and whiskey?”

– Madeline Adams

Now my favorite words from God are these “We have no condemnation it Christ Jesus” I love and cherish that! But we need to keep our hearts SOFT. I know that I feel so very dirty and broken when I sin, but when I sin and don’t talk to Jesus about it, that is worse! My sin develops this stench that is overwhelming! I feel that as a Christ follower, when I sin it is worse than when someone who doesn’t know Jesus sins, because I know better and I have the Holy One inside me guiding me and telling me to do right. What excuse do I have? I have none but I have an Advocate in my “Beautiful Jesus” my “Beautiful Savior”.

One of my favorite songs is this; “Nothing but the Blood of Jesus”.

“What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus!”

“What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus!”

“Oh precious is the flow that makes me white as snow,

No other fount I know, nothing but the blood of Jesus!”

It is so very important that we talk to the Master about everything; we need to come to Him and worship Him in Spirit and Truth, He commands it and we should want it.

Romans 4:7-8

“Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.

Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.”

 

Grace and Peace in the Name of Jesus. Amen


A Great Prayer

August 26, 2008

I am a Independent/(Slightly Conservative) Moderate. I know that is long but “Republican” or “Democrat” does not define me, and the labels “Conservative”, “Liberal”, and “Moderate” do me little justice as well. Sad to say, I think that I will end up voting for John McCain in November but I truely wish I could vote for Barack Obama. I am one of those stubborn Jesus followers who can’t get over the whole “life begins at conception” thing. From my days in High School I have had a deep  LOVE to follow politics and that may be an understatement. So as I watched the Democratic National Convention taking place in my lovely Home State of Colorado, I was attracted to what Donald Miller, author of “Blue Like Jazz” had to say at the close of the first day of the convention. Here is what he prayed:

“Father God,

This week, as the world looks on, help the leaders in this room create a civil dialogue about our future.

We need you, God, as individuals and also as a nation.

We need you to protect us from our enemies, but also from ourselves, because we are easily tempted toward apathy.

Give us a passion to advance opportunities for the least of these, for widows and orphans, for single moms and children whose fathers have left.

Give us the eyes to see them, and the ears to hear them, and hands willing to serve them.

Help us serve people, not just causes. And stand up to specific injustices rather than vague notions.

Give those in this room who have power, along with those who will meet next week, the courage to work together to finally provide health care to those who don’t have any, and a living wage so families can thrive rather than struggle.

Help us figure out how to pay teachers what they deserve and give children an equal opportunity to get a college education.

Help us figure out the balance between economic opportunity and corporate gluttony.

We have tried to solve these problems ourselves but they are still there. We need your help.

Father, will you restore our moral standing in the world.

A lot of people don’t like us but that’s because they don’t know the heart of the average American.

Will you give us favor and forgiveness, along with our allies around the world.

Help us be an example of humility and strength once again.

Lastly, father, unify us.

Even in our diversity help us see how much we have in common.

And unify us not just in our ideas and in our sentiments—but in our actions, as we look around and figure out something we can do to help create an America even greater than the one we have come to cherish.

God we know that you are good.

Thank you for blessing us in so many ways as Americans.

I make these requests in the name of your son, Jesus, who gave his own life against the forces of injustice.

Let Him be our example.

Amen.”

I love that prayer! I ENDORSE THAT PRAYER. I would vote for that prayer. I don’t know where I really stand on the whole political spectrum, I once did until recently when I started listening to people like Donald Miller, Shane Claiborne, Tony Campolo, and Dallas Willard. I have seen a new path toward making policy in our nation that is above “Democrat” or “Republican” and that is the way of my Savior who doesn’t endorse McCain or Obama. I see positions on both sides of the isle that attract me, not as an American Voter but as a Voter who follows and tries to live out the teachings of Jesus, the One and Only Son of the Most High God. I want our next President to follow as much of that prayer as possible, because that is where my heart is and I have a feeling that is where the heart of my God is as well.

DISCLAIMER: Could be wrong, seeking the Holy Spirit constantly for guidance. Just my opinion as a PASSIONATE follower of Jesus and politics.

Feel free to voice your thoughts, I would love to hear them.


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.