Shalom. Let the changes of season remind you that we too change, to change is to grow and God invites us to grow deeper in understanding of Him.
There are many things that slow or stop our growing in understanding of Jesus. (Please note that there can be a difference between knowledge and understanding. To know a lot about Jesus doesn’t mean that you understand about Jesus, it helps and we shouldn’t stop learning more, but in a relationship it’s better to understand the other person, to know them as opposed to know about them.)
One of the most dangerous ones is to allow things to be a higher priority in our time and focus than Jesus is. It may not start out as our intention and indeed we may not intend it to stay this way, because sometimes we do simply get busy, we can get distracted and time rolls on and all of a sudden we realize that it has been days or weeks since we really spent decent time with Jesus. Then we either refocus and put our priorities back in order or we just continue being busy. Over time Jesus becomes like a distant relative who we occasionally catch up with, but there’s no real depth and intimacy in our relationship with him.
But it’s okay because we’re still a Christian and go to church and tick all the right boxes but inside we quietly wonder why people get so excited about Jesus and what he’s doing in peoples lives here and overseas. We might even think that they’re being a bit over the top and emotional, after all, it’s the same Jesus we know.
Or is it?
Sadly many people who are believers don’t wrestle with the questions, issues and challenges that I believe we’re encouraged to. Israel was named as such because it means to wrestle with God. When we wrestle with Him, then we really get to know him.
I hope you have some wrestling moments this week.
Shalom. Let God’s love lift you from obligation to desire, from going through the motions to moving in rhythm and from doing the thing right to being the righteous person.
Often in our journey with Christ we find there are certain grooves in the road that are easy to follow and comfortable to move in. There are things that come easy to us and fit the way we’re made; these are things we are passionate about. Other grooves in the road seem weird or just irrelevant and even if we try to move in them we struggle. Why can this be? If God made them, wouldn’t it follow that they’re good?
Yes, of course they are; and we may watch others moving in the groove and having a thoroughly good time and be perplexed, disinterested or envious. But sometimes it may be because our personality type, our makeup, our predisposition leans us a certain way. I know so many who love the intellectual pursuit of God and can’t be bothered with the ‘emotional’ aspect of worship; they just want to move on and get into the headspace place, while on the other side are those who want to linger in the
emotion and soak in the experience. Neither is wrong; unless they try to tell the other they are. I believe God desires to grow us to a place where worship is something that is expressed through our whole of life; it’s what we do and who we are Monday to Sunday. We no longer approach our potential opportunities for interaction with others, God and even ourselves with a ‘what’s in it for me; what do I get out of it’ attitude, but instead look for the growth, the response, the meaning for others.
What we get out of it is the blessing of others and we see it’s not about us. We deny ourselves and see others. Don’t think we can do this. Of course we can; just ask any parent down watching sport on a freezing cold Saturday morning, or someone coaching a team of kids who improve as the season develops, watch any grandparent who is about to meet their grandchild after an absence of time. It’s actually part of the way we’re wired. We like to encourage others; it actually makes us feel good.
So when we come to worship, the challenge for some is to forget themselves, stop analysing and critiquing, stop wishing it were over or different and simply enjoy the moment; reach out to God and seek his blessing, stop thinking about all the things around you and focus on Jesus (really really difficult if it’s your kids who are doing whatever it is they’re doing). For others it might be to reframe the way they listen and simply ask God what He wants them to hear, pick up and apply. This isn’t always easy; it requires discipline, it requires maturity and it requires an attitude that seeks to walk humbly with God.
You see, one of our problems we have is that too often we focus on what we don’t have, what we feel we’re missing out on; how things would be so much better if it changed, then we can lose the very opportunities and blessings that are with us now and diminish the moments we are in.
My hope is that you embrace the moments you’re in now because life is too short to waste, so enjoy this moment right now…. you’ll never have it again.
Shalom. I trust you are in the right space and place as you participate in this bit of God’s church we call Whiti Baptist. It’s humbling to be reminded that we are part of the most successful movement the earth has ever seen.
The amazing aspect of our faith is it’s uniqueness at being able to free the individual from bondage, transform their personal world and also be able to radically reform whole societies. But we see that Jesus focused firstly on individuals. Any historian or Anthropologist will tell you that to transform a society you need to start a movement that changes how people think, and often this is done through fear and intimidation. Recent examples are communism, fascism, socialism and capitalism. Yes, capitalism is one that still operates by fear. We are afraid we won’t have enough money, or be able to achieve or have what we want.
But Christianity often flourishes in the adversity of the first three, but can be watered down in the latter. Christianity is not a faith that is based on fear; awe and respect towards God yes, but not fear. As followers of Christ Jesus we have a responsibility to help transform the world we live in, so that it better reflects kingdom values. Most of Western civilization has these values as its basis and rewards people for hard work and encourages people to give their best in the ‘pursuit of happiness and to be the best they can be. The challenge is we have allowed greed and selfishness to become more prominent and the rich get richer and forget the poor.
This is not God’s heartbeat and we need to get our balance better. This is best done as each of us grapple with God’s call, seek his heart, read His word and work together to be a community that seeks to take the change we have discovered to a wider world.
I hope you have a great week and find God pulling you into a new challenge.
Shalom. It is my hope that you discover more of Gods love for you and others in a deeper way today through your time spent here as you reach out to Him and those around you.
I’m in Matamata this Sunday and won’t be with you.
Jesus says in Matthew 6: 33, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Jesus says the Kingdom is for those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. Finding God with desperate people is an entirely different experience than among the satisfied. How desperate are you, am I? How desperate are we to share this good news, to seek this kingdom, to lead people to Jesus?
I think that by and large we’re content with what goes on amongst us – and believe me that is a good thing; But it’s not enough!
A while ago I read the story of the paralytic who was lowered through the roof
1A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. 2So many gathered that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. 3Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them. 4Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on. 5When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
I bet those who owned the house weren’t impressed, I wouldn’t be.
Then I was challenged by these thoughts…
“Every pastor I know speaks well, stirringly even, of serving and blessing and winning those outside the church walls. But let’s be honest, it’s difficult at times to reconcile our speaking with our doing. If action is the fruit of conviction, if “by their fruit you shall know them,” then the conclusion is inescapable: many pastors and churches could not care less about their communities. I call this “Roof-tile Syndrome.” Roof-tile Syndrome is when we are so caught up in the preaching of Jesus, we turn our backs to the needs of those still outside the building. We become barriers and not gateways. It’s when we care more about keeping things intact than about restoring lives that are shattered. It’s when we’re more upset when stuff gets broken than excited when the broken are mended. It’s when church gets reduced to the preaching of Jesus so that we fail to notice that we’re seeing very little of the forgiveness and healing of Jesus. It is when we are so fearful about upsetting the religious folk (or homeowners) in our midst that we stop taking risks to get people to Jesus. (Wreck the Roof. By Mark Buchanan, Leadership Journal, Winter 2007)
Hope this encourages your desperation for Christ as it did for me.
Enjoy your week ahead and see ya next Sunday.