Following

I was sitting on the couch reading a book and C was driving his toy car up and down my leg. He was noticing my leg hair and ankle bone. Paying close attention to everything he noticed. I’ve noticed that everything I do he does. What he notices about me he notices about himself.

It is in this moment that I realized the more he finds out about me the more he finds out about himself. Now we are different both in ethnicity and size but still being in my presence and learning about me teaches him about himself.

It is the same way with us and God. The more time we spend in His presence learning about Him the more we learn about who we are. The more time we follow Him around the more we know where to go. The more we notice about Him the more we notice about us.

Just a thought,

Mike

A Miracle with a Message

In Mark 8:22-26 Jesus heals a blind man in a very unusual way. Jesus spits on the man’s eyes and the vision is partially restored. Then Jesus puts the His hands on the man’s eyes and his vision is totally restored. I know the first couple of times I read this passage I was beyond confused because I could not figure out why Jesus did not restore the man’s vision all at once. After all, He is Jesus He could easily do this.

I have heard all sorts of explanations for this ranging from the man did not have enough faith at first to Jesus had already said “Woe to you Bethsaida” because they did not repent. The former has to do with our faith being the power and the latter has to do with Jesus withholding blessing an individual because of corporate failure. Both in my humble opinion fall short because neither treats Scripture properly and both place the emphases on the individual passage and not in context.

If we read the whole of Mark 8 we can see that before this Jesus rebukes the disciples because they did not understand His words about the yeast of the Pharisees and then later Jesus rebukes Peter because he tried to Jesus (never a good idea). Yet right in the middle is this miracle. It is a miracle with a message. The message is clearly given before the miracle in 8:21 where Jesus says, “How is it you do not understand?” In short, the message is that you can walk with God and miss the point.

The point is not to go to church, tithe, dress better, do better, get stuff, or correct people. No, the point is to love God with all your heart soul and mind and love others as yourself. That is the point of walking with God. First, we walk with God and learn to be like Him, loving what He loves and giving ourselves wholly to Him and then because of that we love others and concern ourselves with their well-being.

That is why Jesus did not heal the man right off the bat. It was not because He could not or did not want to. He was going to heal the man we can tell because He did. The point was to demonstrate to the disciples that they are seeing part of the image but not the whole thing. They had some vision but not the whole picture. They were not trusting Jesus for who He is but instead still had their focus on the bread which is really to say on their immediate needs. Jesus wants us to be concerned with more than our immediate need He wants us to give Him our full attention and devotion. He wants us to walk with Him and trust in Him.

Just a thought,

Mike

Walk Straight

img_3504

I would say that on average I pray the same prayer every day. I pray some variation of “Lord help me to walk in your ways and not stray to the left or to the right.” I want to be clear that I do not pray this prayer because I am so great but because I am aware of my own frailty. I know that left to my own devices I will stray to the left and the right. I know that when it is up to me I will go astray. I know me.

I also know that God desires to lead me. He desires to guide me. He desires to have me follow. Most of the time God and I are on the same page; we both know I am weak. I say most of the time because there are times when I try and blaze my own trail and when that happens I come back and pray my prayer again but with more determination.

I don’t really have much to say about this because I know I am not alone. I know I am not the only one who knows what is in them. Chances are if you are reading this then you know just as I do that we are prone to wonder. My advice is to admit that and ask for Him to guide you because He wants to. Jesus says “I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me.” 

 

Just a thought,

Mike

I don’t want it that bad

 

43704_1717_8807This is the truck I want. Oh, I want this truck. Every time I drive by it I look at it. I think about it and how cool I would look in it. I think about how people would be like “oh yeah that’s Mike’s truck.” Oh, I want this truck, but what I do not want is the payment so I don’t have the truck, and unless someone watching is loaded and wants to buy it for me I will not have this truck. I want this truck but I don’t want it bad enough to buy it. That is what I want to talk about today…how bad do you want it.

There are three men in Luke 9:57-62 that wanted to follow Jesus. At least they said they wanted to follow Jesus but apparently did not want to follow Him bad enough to actually follow through with it. Let’s take a quick look.

The first man said he would follow Jesus wherever He went. This guy said he was ready for anything. He was ready to go, so Jesus said: “I sleep on the ground and use rocks for pillows.” The basic idea Jesus was trying to get through to him was that if he wanted to follow Him then that as ok but he could not be in for anything other than the privilege of following Him. In return, the man who was down for anything said: “I’m out.” Apparently, he did not like camping and wanted the finer things.

The second one Jesus actually called. This man said, “first let me bury my father.” Jesus’ replied, “let the dead bury their dead.” Now this sounds harsh but this man’s father was not dead. We can figure that out because if his father was dead and needed burying then he would have been home burying his father. Instead, he was hanging out to see what Jesus was doing. He did not want to follow Jesus enough to actually follow Him. Instead, I think he just wanted to be close enough so that if things went well he could get in on it.

The third man said, “I’ll follow you, Jesus.” This man was ready to step up where the others failed, but before Jesus could respond this man said: “but first I need to go home.” He was saying “Jesus I’ll follow you, but I need to go home and get permission from my family.” He was more concerned with what his family thought about his choice than what it actually meant to follow Jesus.

These three men said they wanted to follow Jesus but in reality, they did not want to actually do it. They wanted to be known as followers because Jesus was a big deal and they wanted in on the fame. They wanted the glory but not the work. Jesus says that we can follow Him but we need to give up everything.

If we want to know what it means to follow Christ as Lord and not just have Him as Savior then we need to look at Abraham and the Disciples. Abraham left everything to follow God’s direction. God told Abraham to leave his home and his family and Abraham left for a land he did not know simply because God said go. We have to remember that at this time they worshiped a few different gods and these gods were regional so one god might be strong here but over there he was not. Yet Abraham believed this God was strong enough to break boundaries. This was a tremendous act of faith on his part.  

The Disciples when Jesus called them left all sorts of things. Some left ministries they were involved in, some left business ventures, and some left jobs all because Jesus said follow me. Think about that. What if while you were sitting in your cubicle Jesus said follow me and you knew He meant quit right now, would you? Would you just tell your boss “Jesus said I need to quit.” What if you ran a small business and the same thing happened. Would you just hand someone the keys and say “Jesus said I need to go.” What if you were serving in a successful ministry and Jesus said: “time to go.” I am not saying He will do that but He could…

We have to ask ourselves whether we are questioning the faith, new to the faith, or long time Christians “If Jesus says go will I go?” It is not a question that we should take lightly either because our relationship with Him hinges on how we answer. That is not to say if you’ve said no in the past that you’re out of luck but if He asks again will you say “yes Lord.” You and only you can answer the question of how bad do you want it.

Just a thought,

Mike