Category Archives: The Good News

Grieved God’s Heart – Praying the Emotions of Jesus Day 4

Mark 3:5 (NKJV)
And when He had looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored as whole as the other.

Prayer
Jesus, What grieves Your heart? Is it not those who hide behind religious rules and miss the heart of the matter in the process? Is it blind guides who lead others astray? Is it not the Pharisee who thinks he is righteous before God even though he is just as much a sinner as the next person?

May I stretch out my hand in faith to be healed. May I confront those who seek to wrongly accuse You. Help me to know how to live by Your law and the Spirit. Free me from thinking too highly of myself and questioning You.

Lord, You are the maker of each new day. Teach Your people to honor the Sabbath by doing acts of justice, not turning a blind eye to those in need. Help me to see as You see and respond as You would in love. May I not fear those blind guides who follow dead religion. May I be free to live in step with the Holy Spirit. Amen!

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Indignant – Praying the Emotions of Jesus Day 2

Mark 1:40-41 (NIV)
A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus was indignant.* He reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!”
Footnote: * Many manuscripts render “Jesus was filled with compassion.”

Prayer
Jesus, You are so willing to do more than we can think or imagine. There is no limit to Your love for Your people. Though we doubt and frequently approach You only at our darkest hour, You are faithful. There is nothing beyond Your ability or grasp.

Like a sheep to the slaughter, we wrestle with things from which You desire to deliver us. You desire for Your people to approach Your throne boldly because You are the new and living way. But my sin and the pressure of peering eyes causes me to be distant. You offer a healing touch, but my doubts get in the way. May I believe for what You so desire to give to Your beloved.

You burn with such zeal for Your people that our distance leads You to anger. You become indignant at my request because it is mixed with doubt, fear and self loathing. I am unclean, unclean. Yet, You say, “I have made you clean, clean, clean!”

Lord, forgive me for my doubt. Free me to receive Your grace. And provoke me to ask for that which I know I do not deserve. May I realize that You are truly good. May I discover in my heart that Your generosity and compassion is beyond measure. Amen!

Compassion for the Lost – Praying the Emotions of Jesus Day 1

Mark 6:34 (NIV)
When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.

Prayer

Jesus, May I see people with Your eyes of compassion, not with a judgmental attitude. Erase the emotional distance between me and those You have called me to love. May a passion burn in my heart to see the lost come to saving knowledge of You.

May I never be overwhelmed by the sheer numbers in need. In the midst of the crowd, may I identify the individuals that I am destined to connect with in order to share what You alone can do. There are many who are lost and need direction to the truth. The lost go about life blind to the reality of their need for You. They do not recognize the loving arm You extend to them. They have followed blind guides and have listened to the wrong voices.

As I share the Good News, may I never become proud. I am what I am by Your grace. In humility and compassion, may I share Your truth out of a sincere heart of love. May everything I share be said in love with genuine concern for those who don’t know You.

Amen!

Supremely Ordinary

Jesus’ life on this earth presents a paradox of unparalleled proportions. The New Testament proclaims that Jesus’ death brings us life. The perfect, sinless man took on our sin. He who gave life to all things on this planet experienced the sting of death.

It is this tension between the humanity and the deity of Christ that makes Him so familiar yet so difficult to understand. There is none higher, there is none greater. Yet He humbled Himself in life and death.

Hebrew 1:3 explains, “He (Jesus) is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature, and He upholds the universe by the power of His word. Colossians 1:15 further states, “He (Jesus) is the image of the invisible God.” Yet Jesus was fully human knowing the same temptations and limitations as us. Jesus was a very ordinary guy. Scripture describes Jesus as being like us in every way yet without sin (Hebrews 2:17, 4:15)

Jesus who made all things experienced ordinary life coming down in the form of a little baby born to a poor family. The King of Kings toiled as a laborer in an obscure village in a small country. He who ushered in divine mercy for all who would believe on Him knew hardship, betrayal, oppression, ridicule and injustice.

Jesus never really sought fame or the spotlight. Yet He became the most famous man in human history. Millions have proclaimed allegiance to Jesus as God and Savior.

Jesus had limitless power and authority to call down angelic warriors on His behalf. Yet, he went like a lamb to the slaughter. Jesus could have made an incredible palace for Himself. But He frequently went from place-to-place with no real home to call His own. Yes, Jesus was a homeless King.

Jesus is love. Yet, He knew what it felt like to be hated and despised. Worthy of highest praise, He was ridiculed and mocked by the elites of the day. Jesus was, and is, and is to come. He cannot be limited in time. Yet, His earthly ministry lasted only three short years.

It is in this great paradox that we find access to God and reason to stand in awe of Him. Jesus is the supreme One worthy of highest glory. Yet He was very ordinary – giving us all hope that we can follow His example and in some respects be like Him. While we will never become God, we can become godly and imitate Christ’s life. Face-to-face with this paradox. I am reminded of what Jesus said about His disciples. He said that they would do greater things than He had done because He was returning to the Father.

Do I really believe that? Can I really do greater things? Will Jesus find faith on the earth when He returns? I want to be so extraordinary. But I feel so ordinary at times. Lord I believe. Help me with my unbelief because You are Supremely Ordinary.

WWJD? – Would Jesus Burn a Koran?

Now that the Florida “pastor” has agreed to cancel his Koran burning ceremony this coming weekend, it may seem like old news. But I would like to comment on the idea that many “evangelicals” presented this controversial action as something Jesus just would not do. Although I am not Jesus’ publicist or the official PR spokesperson for God, I am a Christian and do know a thing or two about following Christ. For the record, I claim no divine direction on this matter or supernatural vision. But I would like to take a look at what Scripture recorded that Jesus did to see if burning a Koran is something that Jesus just might do.

Controversy…
Jesus loved to do controversial, almost disturbing things. Jesus was a prophet. And prophets tend to make bold, brash claims that fly in the face of the conventional wisdom. Jesus was no exception. He made divine claims about Himself, forgave sin (something only God was supposed to do according to Judaism), talked about the Temple being destroyed and resurrected in three days, and called the religious leaders of His day “a den of vipers.” Jesus further insulted some of the Jewish religious leaders saying that they were “sons of hell” who followed Satan as their father.

After Jesus’ first sermon in his hometown, the crowd got so angry that they moved to kill Him. And as most people know, Jesus made such a spectacle of things that the religious leaders incited the crowd and Roman authorities to seek Christ’s execution. So far, this is not the picture of man who was afraid to stir up controversy.

Even Jesus’ followers were not immune from criticism, He saved some of his “harshest” comments for His disciples. Remember that Jesus rebuked Peter saying, “Get behind me Satan, you have not the thoughts of God but the thoughts of man.”

Yet, Jesus did not seek to make controversy for controversy sake. He said that everything He did was led by the Holy Spirit to fulfill the will of God the Father. Christ claimed that His words served a higher purpose than self promotion or His own personal agenda.

Spotlight…
Jesus was not a camera hog. After some of His most unforgettable moments, Jesus told His followers to keep it a secret or avoid making a public spectacle out of what He did or said. Quite the opposite from call a press conference, Jesus would sneak away from crowds and avoid publicity. That is one major difference between the recent situation with the Florida pastor and Christ. Jesus didn’t perform for the cameras.

Pick the Right Battles…
Jesus waited for the right time to do everything. The Gospels present Jesus as a man who did everything with purpose – picking the right time and the right battles to fight. Jesus knew when to make a whip and clean out the Temple or stay away from the crowds and seclude from outside pressures. Jesus knew how to avoid confrontation with religious opponents as well as to turn around public arguments.

Jesus Didn’t Focus on the “Bad” Guys…
Jesus did not spend a lot of time talking about the “bad” guys or trying to fight them. Instead, Jesus focused on the message that He had been sent to preach and embody. He only talked about Satan or religious opponents when trying to setup the agenda or explain certain concepts to His followers. Even some of Christ’s most controversial statements came as teaching moments to correct wrongful thinking among His disciples. There may be no greater example of this then when Jesus talked about the Temple being destroyed. Imagine just how scandalous that would have been in Jesus’ day. He was responding to a comment by one of His disciples about the massive size of the stones around the Temple complex. Jesus wanted His disciples to know that God was building a new Temple inside the hearts of the faithful. Their focus should not have been on what was visible in the existing religious establishment.

Comparing Christ’s statement to today’s world, it might seem similar to a prophet touching the side of the U.S. Capitol building and saying it would soon collapse into a pile of rubble. Jesus spoke the truth – a harsh reality to prepare His followers for what was to come.

Wisdom…
Jesus called His followers to be “as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves.” This suggests that Jesus wanted His people to be smart about how they lived. They had to use wisdom. Ask yourself, “Will this accomplish a greater, divine purpose?”

Thinking through all these aspects of Christ’s life, I don’t see Jesus as being a big fan of Koran burning. That would just give too much focus to the wrong place. It would embolden and provide a rallying cry for enemies abroad with no real benefit for the Kingdom of God. Jesus doesn’t need to win an ego contest with false religions.

I think Jesus would instead be like one of the missionaries who recently died for the Christian Gospel in Afghanistan. He would be willing to sacrifice to accomplish a greater good without caring if CNN were there to cover the event. But this doesn’t mean that Jesus’ enemies should think of Him as weak. Scripture is clear that when Jesus returns (whatever that looks like), He will come back as a conquering hero and the King of Kings.

Hope

My hope is built on nothing less than…

  • Political leaders doing the right thing.
  • Government supplying society with justice, equality and basic community services.
  • The success of my political ideology.
  • My job supplying my needs.
  • My career and personal accomplishments.
  • A strong U.S. economy.
  • My perfect health.
  • The realization of the American dream.
  • Church connecting me with people who will always be there for me.
  • Technology solving my problems and keeping me entertained.
  • My intelligence and ability to find my own way out of problems.
  • My spouse, children and family.
  • Good friends.
  • My 401K and investments.
  • Safety and security of living in a free country 
  • The U.S. Constitution and legal system.
  • The military might of the United States.
  • Global peacekeepers from the UN.
  • My good works to help others and humanitarian efforts.
  • My trust in the goodness of my fellow man. 
  • My resume, credentials and life experiences.
  • My college degree and education.
  • American ingenuity and grit.
  • My religious knowledge.
  • Me, myself and I.

It can be easy to place our hope in all of the above. But those things will fail us. Edward Mote wrote the hymn titled My Hope is Built. It points to the only real source of hope in the world. Mote wrote, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name. On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.”

No matter how you feel about the recent healthcare vote or the current course of our country, all Christians must know that the source of our hope is not in the United States of America or even our own personal abilities. Our hope is in Jesus. Our hope is not in the economy or government solutions. Our hope is in the only solid rock. And His name is Jesus.

Rebooting the Gospel

Here are a few videos that make you think about how we spread the Gospel today. Should we reboot our systems?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N0R6oAJCVvg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PTc_FoELt8s

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RcWu5IMjxAw

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hvYFvhx1dcY&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DgxGK2GOcQQ