Remaining Centered

As followers of Jesus’ way, we long to develop a state of our soul that is in continual communion with God. This is of course done in prayer. The apostle Paul wrote to the Thessalonians that they should “pray continually”, but how is this possible in the ebb and flow of daily life? In Jesus we observe those times when he went off to be alone to practice solitude and silence in his prayers. Getting away from the busyness and expectations of life is an important facet of the development of our prayer lives. Yet, praying continually does not mean that we are to live in solitude and silence always. It is not possible nor is it the expectation from what we see in the life of Christ. In order for Jesus to speak out of the overflow of who he was, he needed to be in continual communion with the Father. We need to develop the same sense of presence. Then we will experience less of the dichotomy of life where we define some times and spaces as sacred and others as secular or normal. Jesus’ power as he walked among us came from being ‘in’ the Father. Similarly, our power comes from being ‘in’ Christ. Our ambition is to be ‘in’ Christ at all times and in all situations. An example of this is found in Mark 9 where Jesus, Peter, James, and John are descending from a mountain to find the remaining disciples in an argument that came about because they could not drive out an evil spirit. Later, when Jesus was privately teaching his twelve...

The Prayer of the Disciple

In Mark chapter 9 we meet a father of a boy who has been possessed by a spirit from birth. As Jesus is confronting the issue of the man’s belief, we hear what has become my favorite prayer in the Bible. I use it throughout the day as a way to transform my thoughts as I am confronted with temptation, complacency, and difficult decisions. “I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief!” Take a moment to read the passage. First the man approaches Jesus and says “if you can.” This is not the prayer of faith, it is desperation. It is the equivalent of blindly flailing our arms about and grabbing onto everything. Jesus is just another tactic that we try to get the results we want. Asking for help overcoming unbelief is a prayer of humble awareness. An awareness that power comes from our proximity to the Father. It is awareness that our brokenness often gets in the way as we follow Jesus. “I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief!” is the prayer of the disciple. If we think of it as columns, we want our belief column to get bigger and the unbelief to get smaller. To accomplish this, it takes intentional time seeking the still small voice of the Father. Less of me, more time spent in the image of Jesus. Less compartmentalization in my life, more time being consumed by thoughts of God. In our lives as disciples of Jesus, overcoming unbelief is the process of sanctification as we engage our day to day lives. It is unbelief that keeps our to-do list long...

Being Hated

Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you. – 1 John 3:13 How does the thought of begin hated for following Jesus make you feel? John says not to be surprised if the world hates us. Reflecting the image of God will elicit a response from a world that does not understand and must confront their own sense of shame. It was this sort of shame that incited Cain to hate and kill his brother Abel. Looking around at the church in our culture, we do seem genuinely surprised when the world pushes back against our beliefs. One response we offer is to compromise. There are attempts to make the truth that we are immersed in more palatable. This effort to be liked and win affirmation voids the power of freedom and transformation that Christ Himself promises. There are many tough truths in the gospel, whitewashing them or saying that they don’t apply to modern culture takes away the cross that some must carry to be conformed into the image of Christ. People are being held back in captivity by compromise. Another response is to intentionally drum up hatred. As if Jesus and John saying to expect resistance means that we need to produce it ourselves. So we see a version of “in your face” Christianity that seems very far from the example that Christ demonstrated. This warning about being hated is not to be used as a way to build identity. Every effort is to be made to live in peace with everyone. Yet this goes hand in hand with holiness (Hebrews 12:14), because that...

An Idea About Evangelism Training

I went to a Friday night race in Daytona with my dad a couple weeks ago. We had a great time together experiencing the atmosphere and the sounds, smells, and power of the trucks on the track. As we entered the speedway grounds, there were three men at the entrance gate. One had a bullhorn and was reading a Bible passages about the judgment of God. The two others had signs with similar messages about perishing and hell and stood with their free arms outstretched holding tracts. While I am giving them credit for being well-meaning, there efforts were ignored by the large crowd walking past them. These men were doing evangelism. In our Christian terminology, evangelism is what you are trained for; having gone through a program, and been trained in the right steps in presenting the gospel to others. This type of training takes a variety of forms, but the commonality is that evangelism is seen as a separate discipline for the follower of Christ. Think of the fear response that is so common when people are told we are going to talk about or teach ‘evangelism’. Evangelism is presented as a discipleship elective and in practice comes off feeling forced and unnatural. What if we simply taught people to love others? That the people around them and that come into our churches are more than a statistic or a project. They are people who are struggling with their place in the world. What if we simply taught people to listen to others? Rather than giving enough attention to throw in the appropriate Bible verse, this would take compassion...

Prepare to WIN in 2017

At the end of every year, I take some time to look back at the previous year and look forward to the next. It is an exercise that is not uncommon, and I use the time to evaluate and make a plan in several areas of my life. So, in the couple weeks after Christmas and to start the new year, I spent a significant amount of time reflecting and planning. When working with coaching clients, I find that many people are attracted to the thought of doing this, but lack a framework that allows them to safely evaluate. Hence, for many, such an exercise becomes one of comparison, shame and making a commitment to try harder. What I wanted to do in this first blog of the year is give you a simple framework that you can add to or subtract from as is appropriate for the context of your life. It is a great tool to examine yourself spiritually, relationally, physically, financially, professionally, as a parent, or in numerous other areas. The acronym is simple: W. I. N. Click here to get 33 clarifying questions to help you make a discipleship plan. W is a prompt to look at what you did well in the area you are examining. Too often our tendency is to start an examination with where we fell short. My own tendency is to want to press on before celebrating what has been done. Here are a few sample questions: What did I do well in the area being examined? How have I celebrated these milestones? How will what I did well impact...

Gain Perspective. Live Well.

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