Whew, We’re Not The Only Ones…

As I was reading in Mark 9 I was comforted to know that we are not the only ones who constantly spit on the cross by refusing to fully accept the sacrifice that Christ made on it for us. We are not the only ones who seek to “supplement the cross” in our pursuits to please God & earn His favor with our good deeds/works. Three of His “best students” seemed to be bent towards that same brokenness as well…

At the beginning of chapter 9 Jesus brings Peter, James, and John up on the mountain with Him. Then, something supernatural happens. Jesus’ clothes become dazzling white, and Elijah & Moses appear before them talking to Jesus. Check out our brilliant friend Peter’s response…

5Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” 6(He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.)

7Then a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”

Peter has a supernatural encounter with God, and look what his FIRST response is…He immediately wants to DO something for Jesus. It’s almost like he wants to impress Jesus with his good idea. (Although confining Jesus, Elijah, and Moses to a shelter does not seem like too great of an idea to me) God the Father has to yell at Peter from the clouds to get him to shut up and listen; by then it’s too late…

8Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus.

I wonder what would have happened had Peter kept his mouth shut, watched, and listened? Instead, he immediately feels the need to work, to do, to perform, & earn the favor of Jesus. Jesus wanted them to experience, and witness that wonderful happening. I wonder if Peter missed out on something powerful that he needed to hear. (If he did I’m sure Jesus filled him in later – Peter did, after all, end up doing some pretty neat stuff in the kingdom=)

I also realize that this is before the cross, so the disciples have a reason NOT to understand/accept it at this point; it hasn’t happened yet! So, we can cut them some slack here. We, however, can’t use that same excuse…

How often do we bypass the, “This is my son, whom I love. Listen to Him!” part because we are too busy trying to impress Jesus with our grand ideas of kingdom growth strategery, and performance based lifestyle? Do we often miss out on something God may be trying to teach or show us because we’re busy trying to show HIM how good we can be for Him?

“Christ, thank you that you have grace, and patience for us even when we fail to grasp even the most basic principles of your life.”


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“Supplementing The Cross”

Sup⋅ple⋅ment – noun: Something added to complete a thing, supply a deficiency, or reinforce or extend a whole. – Verb (used with object) – To complete, add to, or extend by a supplement. To form a supplement or addition to. To supply (a deficiency).

It has becoming increasingly evident to me how little stock we truly put in what Christ did on the cross for us. We may say with our words, “the cross was enough; what Jesus did was enough”. However, our actions are a daily picture of broken humanity that insists on supplementing the cross. It is as if we say,

“Jesus, thank you for this act of sacrifice on the cross you have suffered through to completely cover my sins, and make me clean…wait, did I say completely? What I meant was thank for offering yourself as PART of the sacrifice. I appreciate that, and will now do my part to make up for where your sacrifice on the cross was not enough.”

At that moment we take out our hammer, tiny finishing nails, and pieces of paper. We begin writing little deeds, and good works on those pieces of paper. We frantically tap the little nails through the paper, and into the wood of the cross directly above, below, and next to the broken, & bloody parts of our Savior’s body. With each good deed we add to the cross our pursuits of making up for where Christ’s sacrifice was lacking. With each one we spit on our King’s body. In essence, we are doing nothing less than driving those little finishing nails straight into His flesh. I wonder if those little nails hurt worse than the huge spikes that attached Him to the cross…?

We have this fundamental misunderstanding of the cross, and Christ’s purpose in dying on it for us. We are SO quick, in our broken human-ness to try and perform to earn God’s approval. We are taking the very thing that sets us apart as followers of Christ and trading it in for a life of vain pursuits. We continue to fall victim to a trap that tricks us into thinking Christ desires our works, and good deeds to gain His approval. We attempt to “pay God back” for what He did, and earn our salvation by our dead works. Father, forgive us.

We mustn’t perform to earn God’s approval. We obey Him because we already have His approval. We gained that approval through believing that what He did on the cross was ENOUGH; it needs no supplement.

Will you join me in repenting for attempting to supplement the cross…?

Religious.

Picture 1“I was cut deep to the heart as I read back over Mark 7 this morning. I was convicted of areas in my life that are still consumed by a religious, proud, and self-righteous spirit…”

In my “younger” days I used to describe my love, and devotion to God using the word “religious”. I’d say things like, “Oh, yes, I am VERY religious”, with a stern look on my face as if to make sure people knew how serious I was about this particular aspect of my life. I would also find myself pleased when I would get the opportunity to answer, “yes” to someone when asked, “Wow, you’re a pretty religious guy, huh?” Even as I type this I cringe at the thought that I actually used to be “proud” of the fact that I was religious. (Those two words are perfect partners)

These days I do everything in my power to tear down that false, or should I say OPPOSITE perception of what it means to be a passionate follower of Jesus. You see, Jesus DETESTED the religious; dare I say HE detests (present tense) a religious spirit? I get asked weekly about my “Religious Tattoos”. I used to hate it, but now I love every opportunity that I get to share about my love for Christ, and His lack of desire for me to be a religious person. I get to share about the freedom I have in Him, and the mission I get to be on FOR HIM that is birthed from my RESPONSE TO HIM for what He’s done for me. They hopefully walked away with a more clear understanding of the person of Jesus, and how HE ALSO seemed to have some “beef” with the religious people of His time.

I was cut deep to the heart as I read back over Mark 7 this morning. I was convicted of areas in my life that are still consumed by a religious, proud, and self-righteous spirit. It also caused me to think of the many ways I “just don’t get it” because religious tradition gets in my way. I am going to post some selected verses from chapter 7 of Mark that have been especially revealing, or got me thinking this morning. I would encourage you to read the entire chapter.

“…They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men. You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men…” (7:7-8)

“…And he said to them: ‘You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions…!'” (7:9)

“…Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that…” (7:13)

My hope here is that we may allow the words of Jesus to cut us deep as we think about the things we do out of man made tradition, which may hinder or slow the spread of the Gospel. For most of us these religious traditions or not done out of self-righteous pride, but rather out of a Gospel deficiency that we suffer from in some area of our lives. If you are offended by any of this then the scriptures may be attempting to burn away a religious spirit somewhere deep in your soul. (This scripture offends me often, and the religiosity that exists in my life shrinks little by little-praise Christ.)

What man-made religious practices come to your mind when you read this scripture?

What are some “modern day equivalents” of the Pharisees questioning Jesus and His disciples for not washing their hands before they ate?

How do our religious traditions (That may not necessarily be BAD) dangerously affect some of the core sacred practices of our faith? (Communion, Baptism, etc.)

We’re So Vain…

I have been working out at Las Vegas Athletic Club for about 6 months now. I’ve noticed something since the first day I started working out, but it has become increasingly humorous the more I pay attention to it. Not to mention it has caused me to check my own heart, and make sure that I am not found guilty of the same particular act.

People think they’re sexy. Bottom line.

Do you ever notice how gyms are surrounded on all sides by mirrors? They are everywhere. At LVAC there is almost nowhere you can go where there aren’t mirrors. At the gym people check themselves out CONSTANTLY. Whether they’re walking in to go change for workout, in the middle of workout, or finished and leaving they are gawking at themselves in the mirrors. Now, every time I go I count how many people I see checking themselves out. This makes for quite the humorous workout. It also keeps me from slipping into the trap myself.

Let’s face it: we’re all vain. I watch guy after guy walk from the gym toward the locker room literally staring at themselves in the mirror for a solid minute; most of them almost collide with other guys in the process. Some of them even give themselves a little devlish grin as if to say, “damn, you are one sexy beast”. The funny thing is that it doesn’t matter how physically attractive the people actually are, they’re all still checking themselves out. It’s really kinda weird.

I’ve also noticed that people like to watch themselves work out. It has become such a weird thing to me that I intentionally face my back to the mirrors. I am the ONLY one in the gym NOT making goofy faces in the mirror as I lift far too much weight for my body while feeling really good inside about how much my veins are popping out of my arms. Yesterday a couple guys even looked at me puzzled like, “why are you facing your back to the mirror, dude?”

Bottom line: In America we care far too much about our appearance, our looks, our bodies, etc. which comes down to a root issue of our own insecurity in who we are. I’m quite certain there’s some level of wanting to impress, or get affirmation from others as well. I just thought it was funny, and wanted to share it with you all. I can now proudly say that I’m not a gym club mirror-monger. I refuse to look at myself in the mirror at the gym aside from maybe a random glance to make sure my fly is zipped. I do not watch myself workout. Instead, I watch others, and it’s freakin’ funny.

Are you, or anyone you know a gym club mirror-monger?

“To All My LADIES!”

I just had to do this…I know there are millions of people posting blogs today about Mother’s Day, and I swore I wouldn’t jump on the bandwagon. However, I was thinking about how special these ladies are to me I couldn’t help but show em’ some “blog love”. So here they are, three very special ladies…& a 4th little non-mom lady on the way…

IMG_1882To my lovely Bride & soon-to-be mommy: I love you baby, more now than ever before! Thanks for carrying our little girl in your belly for 33 weeks now!

IMG_0230To my awesome, slot machine pullin’ mom! (I told you this photo would come back to haunt you!) I love you so much, and realize more and more everyday how grateful I am for you. You are going to be a superb grandmother!

n648371399_1920974_1754To my incredible Mother-in-law, Leslie, who cares for me like one of her very own, and has been a wonderful mother to my wife. Thanks for always lettin’ us take over your house when we come in town! Love you! (You are also going to be a kick A grandmother.=)

Prayer of a Husband & Future Daddy…

This is a prayer that has been powerful in my life; I try to pray it often. Of course, it changes here and there, but has a similar theme throughout. After writing it in my journal this morning I thought I’d share it with you all. May we all pray for one another, that we might take such powerful words that are easy to say, and make them a reality in our lives…

May 5, 2009

Lord, I commit my thoughts to you today. They belong to you, and are for the purpose of bringing glory to your name. I will take them captive, and make them pleasing and holy to you. May my thoughts bring glory to you in every way possible. Lord, I also commit my thoughts to Morgan, pure thoughts that are pleasing to you, and captured for her good pleasure. Lord, grow our love for one another today. May we serve each other in such a way that our love for one another cannot help but grow. May I, through your Spirit, have the ability to put Morgan before myself, and in so doing, serve her in a powerful way. May that cause her love for me to grow. May Morgan, through your Spirit, have the ability to put me before herself, and in so doing, serve me in a powerful way. May that cause my love for her to grow. Father, give me a supernatural ability to lead Morgan in fresh, new, and effective ways. Only by your Spirit will I be able to lead her appropriately. May that leading allow her to rest in the security of her Savior, and husband. Please prepare me to be a daddy. Make me ready, humble, slow to anger, patient, and quick to extend grace in all areas of my family life. Lord, I trust you, and love you. I pray all of this in the powerful name of Jesus Christ my Savior. Amen.

Please share some prayers that you pray that might be uplifting or encouraging to those reading…Many of us find life in the prayers and Psalms of David. May we write our own journey’s, struggles, pleas, and prayers for the edification of others…

“bASS Ackwards”

In continuation of previous post: “Compound Interest”

Our problem is that we are impatient. We want “get rich quick” schemes, and don’t typically like to work hard for things. We want things NOW, and we want them easy. We are this way with our money, and we are this way in our discipleship methods. Last week I posted “Where’s The Value?” suggesting that we do not value the things that Christ valued based upon how we refuse to disciple others in the way that Christ modeled for us to do so. (By pouring ourselves into just a few people at a time for a few years at a time in such a way that they can & will go and do likewise)

Not only do we want things fast, once we get them we quickly grow discontent with those things we so badly wanted. It intrigues me that we can have such a strong/pure desire to see someone come to know Christ (Neighbor, friend, co-worker, classmate, etc.) that we will pursue/invite them into a relationship with Christ, and think we’re “all done” once they have made a verbal profession of faith, and been Baptized. But, this is only the beginning! When someone commits their life to Christ they have simply committed to beginning a process of discipleship that will go on for the rest of their lives! How have we been tricked into thinking this is the END goal!? This is merely the FIRST step! For the disciples the first step was that they left everything the follow Christ. What if Christ had said, “sweet, I got you to leave everything to follow me, but now you can go ahead back to your life. I just wanted to see if you’d do it”!? Is that not what we do as Christians? We desire someone to “accept Christ”, and when they do we act as if we’re DONE! Picture it: A person has been shadowing us, and watching us. They have allowed us to introduce them to their future Savior. They’ve been wrestling for months with this BIG life decision. They’re finally ready, and we are excited. We lead them through what a decision for Christ means, and maybe Baptize them. Then, we act as if the “job is done” when all along the person thought they were just entering into the beautiful beginning by making that decision!

I know too many stories of people who were led to Christ, and then left high and dry. This is sad to me; I’ve done it before as well. At best we pawn them off to our church “leaders”, or a nearby church to do OUR job, as disciples of Christ, for us. It’s time we step up and take the call to live out the Great Commission seriously. It’s time we actually BE disciples of Christ, and not just call ourselves disciples. We must stop kidding ourselves. We must stop pretending.

So do we truly find value in “making disciples”, or just getting people converted? I would submit that the conversion is the beginning of a discipleship journey that is accompanied by life transformation. We must continue that process with a process of discipleship. May we all search our current lives to see who we are in the process of “leading to Christ”, and who we are discipling.