Monday, September 18, 2017

"not so Fast," a tribute to Matthew 6

This post originates from an old quote that I found jotted down. This led me to Matthew chapter 6.  Then I began meditating om Matthew 6 and was consumed by how powerful the passage was and how much I am starving for simplicity and an emotional decluttering.

The reading that started this Matthew 6 journey is this:

"Constant fasting withers lust, and gives birth to abstinence; abstinence to vigil; vigil to patience; patience to courage; courage to silence; silence to prayer; prayer to abstinence from talk; abstinence from talk to weeping; weeping to humility; humility again to weeping; and so on."  - Gregory of Sinai

Which lead to a biography lessen:

Gregory was a Hesychastic monk which translates to, he was a part of a community that valued inner stillness, taking almost literally Matthew Chapter 6 specifically in this instance Matthew 6:6, "But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you."

Then the reading spurred digging further into Matthew 6 here:

This statement from Jesus transition into His instruction on how to pray followed by instruction on how to fast. Matthew 6:16, "And when you fast, don't  make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get."

The above referenced quote undoubtedly was written while Gregory was processing the act of stillness and how stillness breeds faithfulness.

Then it led me to an overwhelming feeling of this:

 For my entire faith journey I have been neglecting Jesus on his instruction of purity.  Not so much in the traditional sense of cleansing and ridding of material and junk that can pollute our perception of righteous morality. More-so purifying my worship in a way that is sanctified as a true personal relationship.  Really responding to Matthew 6:1, "Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them." 
In my heart of hearts, I truly attempt to engage with Jesus on a personal level, but find myself almost-always drifting in thought to even the most trivial arenas when I try and commit time to solitude.  There was a span of years of my life that I blocked out hours each week, without fail, to solitude - "going up on the mountain by myself", to engage with the Lord.  I am not here to say that those times were in vein and that nothing came from that time- there was tremendous fruit.  What I speculate in retrospect was my motivation for this 'discipline'.

Without going into detail and chasing a rabbit, I believe now that I feel much more depleted spiritually than maybe ever before, I also have a greater understanding of the magnitude of fasting and practicing worship alone in the company of no one other than the Lord.  My prayer moving forward will be to rescue me in a way that I can successfully, "shut the door" and chase after Jesus.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

John 4 - Woman at the Well

So he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee. (John 4:3 NIV)

-in my mind there is no coincidence that once the Pharasies began to question the baptisms that were taking place, Jesus heeded out. My guess is that there began to be a lot of pressure being applied to new belivers --  by moving on for a moment allowed Jesus and his disciples to avoid conflict that could harm and confuse newly baptized souls. 
----in no way do I believe Jesus was escaping to avoid a difficult situation but rather protecting and nurturing individuals that had been newly transformed in the image of Christ

So Jesus and his Disciples set out on a journey that was organized by a RESPONSE of prtoection and safeguarding. 

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14 NIV)

-Jesus sets out on this journey that was spurred by this response and doing so has given him some sense of discomfort and exhaustion -- if we think about the distance traveled, it is essentially moving from the southern part of Israel to the border of Lebanon. That is an incredible distance that while could have been traveled along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea was probably more through the desert to cut time off of the travel.

--so because of the pain, discomfort, and exhaustion of their travels, Jesus and his followers stop off for a break in Samaria for water.  This is where Jesus meets the "Woman at the Well."
Even though his response to leave Judea would clearly bring uncomfortable travel He was faithful and because of His faithfulness, God showed up with, OPPORTUNITY.

Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” They came out of the town and made their way toward him. (John 4:28-30 NIV)

-Now we see where the opportunity that was presented because of faithful response has motivated this Samaritain woman towards TESTIMONY of the truths of Jesus. Her Jesus story is beginning right before our eyes. 

The Good News of Jesus has given her a reckless abandon that is normally uncharacteristic for this woman.  Her public announcements are something that would have caught everyone off guard in-turn most likely giving her testimony even more credibility.  Jesus uses the humble and broken.

(The other Samaritans) said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.” (John 4:42 NIV)

-the woman's faithful testimony begins what soon becomes TRANSFORMATION of the Samaritan people to see Jesus as their Messiah.

RESPOSE leads to OPPORTUNITY which inspires TESTIMONY that cultivates TRANSFORMATION.

There is another story in John 4 concerning the Disciples that I will dig into in the future. (John 4:27-38)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Discipleship: video

Found this awesome video on the Forge America website. Thought it was killer and keeps in the theme of discipleship.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Disciple Maker

I once heard it said that "discipleship is like one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread."

That statement is huge for me and here is why; its humble. The beauty of that statement is not that the disciple maker is polished, it is that he has the answer that sustains life. The disciple maker is not a person of importance or authority, higher rank, or wealth. The disciple maker is weathered by life, on the same level and willing to teach the things he knows to the next guy. Discipleship bleeds humility. Disciple making looks as if we are equal in life only separated by maturity spiritually, with a willingness to lead in a way in which I hope you surpass me.
(I do apologize if that thought was confusing and incomplete but that is as best as I can communicate it right now. It is raw and fresh in my mind and you just got it.)

James 4:10 reads as follows: "Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up."

I want to lead out humbly making disciples. That is my prayer.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Yesterday I read through John 17 and it was very radical. The 26 verses of John 17 are having more impact on my heart right now than maybe anything else that I have read/meditated on in quite some time.

There are two themes in John 17:
First, Jesus prays and Jesus prays thoroughly. In this one chapter we witness Jesus praying for himself, his disciples, and for all believers. The second theme, and the one I want to spend some time in is this, We are a sent people.

Lets dig into the word a bit.

John 17:3 (Jesus is praying for himself) -- "Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
John 17:18,19 (Jesus is praying for his disciples) -- "As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctified myself, that they too be truly sanctified."
John 17:23 (Jesus is praying for all believers) -- "I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

In these prayers Jesus seems to pay a great deal of attention to the fact that He has been sent to this world by God the Father and that in-turn by us being his disciples (followers) we are sent to the world to communicate the necessity of Jesus' existence and that God sent Jesus, he did not just show up on accident.
Jesus' prayer is that there will be a realization that He is not here by chance but that He was sent by God. Jesus is intentional and moving and He has purpose.

There is intentionality in the use of the word sent as well. The dictionary defines the word sent and/or send as: to cause, permit, or enable to go: to send a messenger.

Being sent brings responsibility.

(17:3) God sent Jesus, (17:18) Jesus sent disciples into the world, (17:23) Disciples tell world God sent Jesus.

We are designed to be sent and we are entrusted fully with that responsibility as Christ followers.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Mission House Making the Move

I am writing this post for a couple different reasons:

1. The Mission House update blog is moving! You will be able to find it at the site will launch sometime tomorrow and will have all the components of Mission House wrapped into a one stop website. So in the next 48 hours we will have a new online look. I will post when that is official.

2. Things are going awesome right now. We are having some issues with personell but it is working for our advantage. God is so good. I love the Lord.

3 My friends who I love and trust and would take a bullet for are launching the taster for their new online business. Great people, great hearts, great accountability and mentors in my life. Check out their preview site:


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Mission House Update

Well we have made it through week one with our first class of interns. It has been a fun 8 days. Yesterday the boys got their first taste of "contact" work spending time in the home of a Bhutanese family in our neighborhood. A family that they will be serving while they volunteer at Mission Adelante. The guys got to experience the overflowing love and hospitality of the Bhutanese people and as a product of that experienced their first cup of Nepali Chai. It is a tea that is full of ginger and sugar. I wish you could have seen the MH guys' faces, they were so joyful. Sitting in the home of people from another culture where only one person in the family knows English can be very overwhelming and very awkward, but the guys were feeding on it, you could sense that God is on the brink of something huge in that community and our interns Mike and Drew get to see everything first hand. God is good.

PS Does anyone want to sponsor a month of curriculum books for mission house? Each month runs about $100. Thanks. we appreciate your support.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Punisher, psych! -- John 9

John 9:3
3 "Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him."

This verse is pulled from a conversation with Jesus as to why a man is blind. Verse 3 is the response that Jesus has when asked if the man is blind do to the sin of a human (either the mans sin or the sinful nature of his parents).

This verse is straight forward.

This verse shows that God is not punishing us for the actions of our fathers but rather the situations that we are in, all of them unique, are orchestrated so that God can work in and through us. What if we quit sulking through our troubles and embraced the reality that God is good and that God is in control. Think life would be easier then? The answer to that question is, "Heck, Yes!".

Oh yea, also once the blind man found out that it was Jesus, the Christ, that healed him he stood proud by his healer, he didn't write it off as coincidence or hide this fact, that God had spared the well being of his life, from his friends and leaders.

How often do we catch ourselves trying to place punishment from God as the reason for junk in our lives and forget to glorify him for the recovery?

When things stink maybe it is just "God saving us" from what could have been?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

John 8 -- Staying Power

Today I am going to break down two verses instead of my usual one. Even though they are consecutive verses I am not going to break them down together because they really worked in two completely different regions of my heart this morning. Also, because the first verse we look at are the words of Jesus and the next verse is an observation of John.

the First:
John 8:29
29 The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him."

Jesus, here is in what seems to be like an endless dialogue with the Jews over fatherhood and salvation, everyone seems to be adamant on being drug so thick through details in an attempt to not have to deal with reality. We see this many times through Jesus' ministry and for the most part Jesus has the same response with different wording. He usually says something to the effect of, "Read what is written in your law, I am the one that God is sending," no one ever wants to believe that they aren't the one God is sending so they get mad and yell at Jesus and then eventually kill him.

Jesus' response here has the same motivation but we see him add an element of personality. Jesus tells us why God has never left him. Here Jesus is teaching his own people, the Jews -- He is talking to friends, peers, equals in the eyes of the law and telling them that they are screwing up. His statement in this verse implies because he is obedient and does what is commanded of him by God that he will never be left by God. Being abandoned by God is a touchy subject in Jewish history so this statement would have struck multiple nerves. See this time Jesus isn't just telling him that He is the chosen one that he is the one sent as the Son of God, he is also teaching them by stating plainly that obedience aligned with this faith in the goodness of Gods decision to send his son is the key to escaping God's abandonment.

The not-so funny thing is that 2000 years later his followers and "not" followers alike are still wrestling through the truth that God sent his son and that he was perfectly obedient. Sometimes I wonder which is the harder pill to swallow; the pill that looks like God sending His son, or the pill that is shaped like someone living a sinless life.
Sin is so hard to escape and Jesus is Sinless, I want to be like him.

the Second
John 8:30
30 Even as he spoke, many believed in him.

I think that I love this verse because it destroys the falsity that I hear so much (especially when I worked in collegiate ministry), "if I see a miracle, I will believe," or "the people in Jesus' day saw him so they did not have to have faith," etc. Here John is observing the practice that would consume history, hearing Jesus. Listening to Him in the heart, reading his word, or being taught byway of listening to stories of Jesus from others.

Romans 10:17 --
Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ. <--> 2 Corinthians 5:7 -- For we live by faith, not by sight.

Friday, January 21, 2011

John 7 - Safety first

John 7:1
1 After this, Jesus went around in Galilee. He did not want to go about in Judea because the Jewish leaders there were looking for a way to kill him.

I love this verse. I cannot say that I have ever payed attention to it before but today it was like gold in my heart. I have two thoughts as to why I love this:

1. Jesus didn't do things just to say that he could. He didn't go to Judea not because he didn't think that he could escape death, he didn't go to Judea because God had not instructed him to be there yet. He is obedient. Judea was full of action, that is where the huge gathering was but Jesus didn't desire the attention enough to be disobedient. he waited because he knew his time in Judea would come at the right time. How often do I want to jump into new things because they will get me ahead, or they will be full of publicity, or they will make money? Jesus trusts God enough to trust His timing. That is a huge lesson in itself. Wait to be told to move before you sprint off in the wrong direction.

2. How often do we find ourselves, even in our intentional living and ministry, purposefully hurting ourselves? I'm not talking death blows but flesh wounds. In the words of Johnny cash, "I hurt myself today, to see if I still feel." I am serious. Is it not natural to expect the worse? When things are smooth, when things are working there is always a spot reserved in the free will portion of our brains to trigger a destructive emotion that is ticking like a time-bomb. In order to feed the emotion there becomes a subconscious search for distress. Jesus doesn't want things to go wrong. He is stoked about perfection, he desires good. He didn't go to Judea because it would disturb his ministry, his death was not necessary at that time yet he still had feeling, he wasn't searching for pain he simply trusts that good is good.