Throw Your Life Away

“Only those who throw away their lives for my sake & the Good News will ever know what it means to really live” Mrk 8:35 LB


Yesterday the NBA held it’s annual draft. A handful of young men have achieved the dream of thousands to play basketball professionally. Glance at the sports page or ESPN and you will see pics of foolish smiles wearing caps of the teams that have selected the wearers. Having it all in your early twenties. Yet we all know that many of these young men will end up miserable, even penny less or destitute. They will “throw away” what appears to be an unbelievable opportunity. We will shake our heads in disgust when we hear how these lives turn out. Yet most of us will do even worse. Throwing away an even greater opportunity.


Haven’t you heard the advice: “Don’t throw your life away.” Sometimes it’s given by a parent to a child who is wanting to marry an “undesirable” or make an unconventional vocation choice. Maybe it’s confided to someone too attached to a vice like drugs or unsavory friends. But Jesus says it’s the only way to live. 


Most of us as we grow older are at least surprised at how our lives turned out and are often disappointed at the choices we made, maybe even believing we “threw our lives away.” It seems many folks never realize the real purpose of their lives. They may never find a real dream or chase dreams that don’t satisfy.  The only attainable dream that truly satisfies is to follow the Savior. We were created to be friends with God and nothing else will do. 


The good news is that we all get the chance and it is never too late to follow, but sooner is better than later. The thief on the cross that chose Jesus missed out the life he could have had. He had a few minutes of knowing that paradise was his destination, but lost out on years of satisfied following. 


Christianity isn’t a one time decision or a cultural way of life. It’s tossing away our concepts of purpose and satisfaction for the sake of Jesus and His commission. It’s been said before and often, but it can’t be said too often, because we really seem to have a problem getting it and keeping it. Most of us aren’t drafted into the NBA and offered millions to play a game. We are all offered the opportunity to live a life of total satisfaction and purpose. Let’s not blow it.


Be blessed.


Nick

I Never Knew You

Matthew 7:21-23

English Standard Version (ESV)

21  B)’>says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will D)’>does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22  F)’>many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not H)’>in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23  J)’>never knew you; L)’>you workers of lawlessness.’

There are lots of encouraging verses in scripture. We like to memorize them and post them on our Facebook pages. This isn’t one of them. This one is frightening and disturbing. It raises the possibility that we might not be as secure in our relationship with Jesus as we would like to believe. It causes us to ask if we really “know” him.

I am a great fan of Tim Tebow. I have followed his career for years as a Gator, a Bronco and now a Jet. I feel like I “know” him. But I’ve never met him and if you asked him he would certainly not know me. Some of us are like that with Jesus. We know ABOUT Him but we don’t know Him. That kind of knowledge is certainly no sufficient to gain us entry into heaven.

To really know someone we have to spend time with them. We all need to read the Bible and learn about Jesus, but we also need to spend time with Him to really get to know Him. We can never know Him too well. But we need to be careful here as well. We have  all heard people who have “known” another for years, even been a family member or a spouse, who one day will say, “I never really knew him.” How very sad and how very disturbing for our relationship with Jesus. Can we ever really know that we aren’t just His fans, but that we are His followers and that he won’t say, “I never knew you.” but will greet us with “Well done, good and faithful servant”?

I believe we can. First Jesus told His followers that others would know that we are His disciples by the way we love one another. If you love the children of God, not just in a warm feeling kind of way, but in a unselfish, sacrificing kind of way, then you are His.

If you really know another person, you know what they are thinking. If we have the “mind of Christ” we truly know Him. If we care about the things, He cares about and if we love the things He loves. If we loath the things that He hates, and avoids the things he would avoid, we are His. If the Great Commission is more than a great suggestion to us. If we are compelled to share what He’s done for us, we are His. If we are disturbed by the state of the hungry, the widow, the prisoner, the lost, and are compelled to help, we are His. 

If we seek His presence and long for His return, if we want to be more than we are and do more than we have, if we are antsy sitting in our pews, we are His. 

We can never have too much Jesus. We can never know Him too well or follow Him perfectly. But we can know Him and we can follow Him and He can know us. There is assurance there.

Be blessed.

Nick

Fear – Robber of Life

I had a urology workup yesterday. It was painful but endurable. The results were fine. No real problems. I had known I needed the tests for a couple of weeks and I had been fearful of both the tests and the potential results.  I wasted much time and energy in those days in fear. Noticed I said “fear” not “nervous” or “anxious” or “apprehensive.” That was very brave of me. Those are the words we  use when we are fear people will think less of us because we fear. Isn’t that ridculous. Fear is a universal condition. 
Jesus was wise. He repeatedly advised His disciples not to fear. They still ran like scared rabbits when his torturers showed up with torches in the night. We like to think that after the Holy Spirit fell they became fearless. That’s probably not true. At least not right away. In the years that followed they went to foreign lands, they were whipped, ridiculed, tortured and killed. I gotta think they were sometimes afraid. But they did it anyway. After the first couple of times, they were less fearful. They learned that God was with them and it wasn’t as bad as they feared. The more they acted in spite of fear; the more they recognized the peace that surpasses all understanding and did the thing they feared anyway.
Fear keeps us from the lives we are called to. We are afraid that if people really knew us they wouldn’t like us, so we don’t open up.  We are afraid people will think we are “Jesus Freaks” so we don’t tell them about Jesus and what He’s done for us. We don’t even say “Jesus.” We think we are bold if we say “God.” We don’t raise our hands in church or dance before the Lord or sing very loud. It’s not because we are proper or  adults or conservative. We are afraid. It’s strange in Kairos guys will sing, dance and act silly before the Lord. They will do things in front of prisoners that they won’t do in front of their church brothers. Fear. They have learned its okay in that setting,  but they haven’t transferred that to their home churches. Fear. 
We don’t go on mission trips or to prison or to hospitals or nursing homes or even to our neighbors with the gospel. It isn’t because we aren’t “called” to those ministries or because we aren’t equipped, we are afraid. 
It’s interesting that Jesus didn’t say, “Be nervous not” or “Don’t be apprehensive” or “Don’t be unsure.” He called it what it is, “FEAR.” The first step in overcoming it is calling it what it is. 
The next step is that what we fear is almost never as bad as we think it will be. In Kairos we tend not to tell potential volunteers the complete truth. That’s not good. We don’t tell them all the obligations that come with serving in the ministry or the potential dangers. We know from experience that will be so blessed that all that won’t matter. The joy of service will greatly outweigh any sacrifice. Doctors do that. They say you will feel some pressure, or discomfort. They don’t say, “This will hurt.” They lie.
Most of the time the thing we fear won’t happen. And in every situation, the worst that could happen is that we could die and be with Jesus. How bad is that. A painful situation is just another opportunity for Jesus to show He can get you through. 
What is fear stealing  from you today? Grab hold of Jesus and do the thing you fear. You know you need to. It only hurts for a little while and there’s blessing on the other side.
Fear not and be blessed.
Nick

New Creations

2 Corinthians 5:17

English Standard Version (ESV)
17 Therefore, if anyone is B)’>a new creation. A)’>the way, and C)’>the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Last night Kairos #54 at Angola began. It was a great kickoff. The introductions went as smoothly as ever and the residents already seem eager to get all that God has for them.

Seven of the residents are proclaimed Muslims. This is the largest number of Muslims at a Kairos at Angola in my memory. One already expressed an openess to Jesus so this is a great opportunity. There is also a great temptation to give these seven undue emphasis. The Kairos is a gift from God for all 36 residents and Rusty, our leader, seems determined that our message and our emphasis remains unchanged. I cheer him for that. The most difficult witness at one of these weekends is not the guy who stands out, but the quiet one who can be easily missed.

There is a temptation to give way to the untruth that it doesn’t matter whom you worship as long as you worship and that we are all just one happy brotherhood. If you worship the world, money, the devil, or Allah, you are not worshiping the Lord Jehovah who sent Jesus as the solution for our sin. Please pray with us that every resident experiences the love of Jesus and the truth that he is THE Way, The Truth and THE Life.

Be blessed.

Nick