No one talks about the son who stayed at home

I sat and talked with a friend the other day. We were talking about life, faith, and stories. As I shared about another friend of mine who has majorly turned his life around, he said “Joel, I’ve grown up my whole life in church, I’ve never partied, I never even touched alcohol until I was 21, I never did drugs, I’m not married, so I’ve never had sex, I’ve never majorly screwed up. I’ve always done exactly what the church has taught me to do. And I feel like that’s not good enough. Like I don’t have a story to tell.”

He paused for a moment and drew a breath as his eyes moistened. Then, with his voice quivering, continued,

“I hear people talk about all these people who are turning their life around, who used to be really bad, and everyone celebrates them. But here I am, and no one even mentions how well I’ve done at keeping all the things that Jesus commands and the church tells us. I feel like I’m not good enough, that I don’t have a story to tell, that I have nothing to say that is worth listening to.” Continue reading

The Disciple Jesus Loved?

When you read through the book of John, you’ll see a specific individual referenced, but never by name…

“The disciple whom Jesus loved”.

Now, we know that this references the Apostle John, one of Jesus’ closest/best friends, but John never actually names himself… I wonder why that is? And we’ll get to that at the end, but think about it for a minute…

What a pretentious title to give yourself.

Imagine if I walked around calling myself “The citizen whom the president loved”. And not because he ever specifically said, “I love you most”, but because I believed that I was really loved by him.

You would think I was crazy, arrogant, and stuck up!

But that is not what John intended at all. Continue reading

Innocence

I read a great article by Andrew Byers, and I wish I had saved the link so I could direct you to it, but he was talking about purity as a Christian in today’s culture of so much violence, sex, and nudity, and what does that look like.

He starts off by talking about how as a Christian culture, we try so hard to be relevant, that we don’t want to be known as “prude”, because then we are afraid of becoming “out of touch”. But then he makes this point:

“Did Jesus say in Matthew 5:8, “Out-of-touch are the pure in heart,” or did He call them “Blessed”?

“Be wise as serpents, and as culture-savvy as the average viewer”? Or is it, “Be wise as serpents and innocent as doves”? (Matthew 10:16).”
~ Andrew Byers

“My point, rather, is that innocence is precious and preserving it is not a vice. It is OK for us to be offended by the offensive. We are not to be moralistic [one who teaches or promotes morality], but we are called to be moral. Scripture beckons us to purity (Matthew 5:8), to wholesome speech (Ephesians 4:29), to honoring the sanctity of the marriage bed (Hebrews 13:4), to discerning good and evil (Romans 12:2). Somehow, we need to learn how to be culture-savvy and yet also innocent as doves.” ~Andrew Byers

It’s ok for something we see on television to offend us, for us to want to turn away from watching something. We shouldn’t be ashamed of saying “I’m not going to watch this”. It’s scriptural. That isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it should be encouraged and we need to be ok with that.

But he acknowledges that everyone is different, and some people don’t have the same convictions as us… Continue reading

Music, The Language of Heaven

“How is it that music can, without words, evoke our laughter, our fears, our highest aspirations?” ~ Jane Swan

Simple, music is the language of heaven. That’s why, whenever there is an announcement from Heaven, it is always accompanied by “a chorus of angels”. It’s why both Isaiah & John, when having a vision of heaven, see the angels singing as they surround the throne of heaven.

It’s why, thought I don’t know the scripture reference for this, they say that before he fell, Lucifer was the highest position in heaven and his job was music.

If you make music, you have the ability to speak the language of heaven. Use it well.

 

Suffering for Others

“Sufferings gladly borne for others convert more people than sermons.”
~ Therese of Lisieux

No one likes to suffer. That is the point behind almost every marketing style out there. “My product will make your life better” ie, make you suffer less stress/work/pain/etc…

But Christ does not call us to a life of comfort, he calls us to a life of sacrificing out of love for others. And sacrifice hurts, it is painful, it should cost us something, it causes us to suffer. If it doesn’t, then it’s really not sacrifice.

When was the last time you suffered for someone? When was the list time you did something for someone else that truly cost you something big (time, money, an item, or even your own flesh and blood)?

Why are we so resistant to give up a couple of hours of our time for someone, or to give up our “dining out budget” money for the month so someone else can have heat, or gas, or food?

Why are we so resistant to do these things?

Maybe it’s because we don’t truly understand the suffering that Christ bore for us. If we are called to be like Christ, then we need to remember that Christ gave up his own life for others (including you, including me), and we are called to do the same.

 

Salvation from Righteousness

I read this post from Jon Acuff a while ago, and it got me thinking about sin, and righteousness, and how we view ourselves and others when we perceive ourselves as righteous. Take a gander at it and let me know what you think…

Theologian C.H. Spurgeon once said, “It is easier to save us from our sins than from our righteousness.” Continue reading

Discipleship, Glory, and Family

When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.
John 19:26-27

“Here is your son, here is your mother.”  What just transpired here?  Jesus is dying and He commands that they should take care of each other.  Why did he take the time for this?  John son of Zebedee was Jesus’ cousin, so by the natural family patterns, it wouldn’t have been odd if he was the one to take care of Mary when Jesus was gone.  So why did He take the time to tell him, if that is the way it was supposed to be anyway?  There are many reasons: He wanted to make sure his mother was cared for, maybe to hold them accountable because everyone else was standing around and could see, and would now know that they need to take care of each other, but I think the biggest reason was to finish setting up that community He had started to build, that community of discipleship.  See, as a disciple of something, in this case Christ, you are to bring glory to what you follow.  So we as Disciples of Christ are to bring glory to Christ.  Jesus’ mother did this early on in John 2 when she brings to Jesus’ attention the lack of wine.  She says, “They are out of wine.”  She doesn’t ask him to do something, but yet, her request is implicit.  And Jesus answers, “It is not yet my time”.  But she, perhaps without realizing it because she probably did not understand what He was talking about when he was talking about it not being his time, she tells them to do whatever Jesus’ commanded.  In that way, she brought Jesus glory.  Another job of a disciple is to be close to the master, John being one of the closest.  At the last supper, John had the most prestigious seat, with his head by Jesus, that would be the position that put John leaning against Jesus, which more literally means “to be at his bosom.”  He was close to Jesus.  So what we see here is that Jesus forms that community of true disciples, by having the two who are probably the truest examples of what a disciple is, he starts building a generation of disciples, and this is the community that will support each other until the holy spirit comes.  This community becomes a family, and that is how we are to live our lives, as true disciples: bringing glory to Christ, and being close to him, and as true disciples, we are to live as a family.  “Here is your mother, here is your son.”