Yes! Yes! Yes!

I’m taking the day off from my blog in order to focus on preparing for our Wednesday playoff game. In case you missed it, here’s Hunter Pence’s speech from yesterday. Just click on the title, “Hunter Pence Inspires.”

And say it with us! Yes! Yes! Yes!

Hunter Pence Inspires

See you Thursday.

You Can Handle Anything

Christians are taught to listen for God’s wisdom, and obviously I think that’s what we need to do. But I understand that the practice of listening sometimes raises a problem for theology. Doing theology in a systematic way will always lead us to ask, “How do we know that it is God’s voice we hear, and not the voices of our own preferences or needs?” Last time, I suggested that we can be sure we’ve received God’s wisdom when our actions make visible the fruit of the Spirit.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23

If we don’t show self-control when we’re talking to other people, then we don’t hear God’s wisdom in our words. I’m not talking about controlling people, and I’m not talking about controlling situations. I’m talking about self-control. There are going to be times when people come at you, and you will want to take control. You won’t want them to win, not when they come at you. That’s natural! But we have to get past that.

It’s not about winning and losing, not when it comes to Jesus Christ and humanity. He has already won. He says, “You are in me, and I am in you. You and I are One with an O, plus I have won with a W. So you have to understand, when you are talking to other people, even when they are aggressive towards you, you have won already. You don’t need to be in control.”

This is your identity. This is you who are in Christ.

fruit of the spirit

There will be other times when you are talking to somebody or trying to help them, and all of a sudden something arises that is not written down on any of the pages of the Bible. I guarantee this will happen, and it can throw you! Wow, you say, he’s asking things, and she’s asking things, and the answer isn’t in my Bible. That’s when you’re going to say, “Holy Spirit, help me handle this the right way.” That doesn’t mean you’ll always have an immediate answer. But you can still handle it right. You can handle anything when you have love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Sometimes as a believer, you have to have faith. Sometimes Christians fear that what they have from God won’t be enough. In those moments they reach for something else. They want so much to see an immediate impact or an immediate response. But sometimes, that’s not what you’re going to get.

You have to have faith. You have to trust that handling a situation with love and self-control is going to be enough.

See you Monday.

Listening For God’s Voice

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23

I’ve been reflecting recently on justice and righteousness, the foundations of God’s throne. We are called to create justice and righteousness in the world, and to do it, we need God’s wisdom. But how do we know when we are receiving God’s wisdom? The Bible gives us a variety of examples. Jesus famously turned the money changers out of the Temple, but he also reached out in love to Zacchaeus, the tax collector, and made a disciple of him.

How do we know when to be loving and compassionate, and when to grab a whip and do some cleansing? How do we know when we’re doing what the Holy Spirit tells us to do, versus doing what we want to do? How do we know when we’re doing God’s will and not following our own will?

How do you know that the voice you hear speaking into your life is God’s?

Galatians 5I think you’ll know it because of the peace you’ll have when you’re sharing that wisdom. Have you seen people on their soapboxes sharing John 3:16 and they’re yelling? They’re actually sharing Jesus by telling people, “You’re going to go to hell if you don’t believe that God gave His only son for your sins!” There’s no way those people have complete and utter peace in what they are doing. I think they want to do the right thing, but they don’t know how. So they just yell it. Their faces are angry, and they spit it out. And then they say, “There, I got the Word of God out there. Now it’s their fault if they don’t accept Christ.”

They don’t show self-control. When people challenge them they don’t even want to listen. They just keep saying the same thing over and over again. I’ve seen it happen! Someone challenges them, and they just point their finger right in their face and go on yelling about John 3:16. That’s not self-control. It’s chaos!

I think you have to ask God for wisdom all the time, and you’ll know when you receive it because you’ll feel peace about what you’re doing. You’ll see the fruit of the Spirit. That’s how you’ll know.

A Story For You

I have a story for you.

A guy I know was speaking at a conference. He had some friends in town, and they asked him to meet with a woman they knew. This woman had been dealing with a lot of troubles. The friends thought maybe the guy could help her.

So he met her for coffee. They sat down together and he asked her, “How are you doing?” She told him directly, “You know, I’m not a believer.”

“Yes, I know that,” he said. He started to speak, but she seemed defensive and went on. “I don’t even believe that Jesus existed!” she told him. He opened his mouth to respond, and still she went on, verbally pushing him away.

Finally he got a chance to speak, and he told her, “I just wanted to know what you wanted in your coffee.”

Surprised, she said, “You don’t want to try to convert me?” And he said, “No, I just want to have this cup of coffee with you.” And she said, “Okay.”

So he went to the counter and got cups of coffee for both of them. By then she had calmed down, and so they sat there for a bit, quiet, just sipping. And then she said, “Why are you here?”

He looked right into her eyes and he said, “I’m here to have a cup of coffee with you.”

“You know I’m not a Christian,” she said. “I don’t believe in Jesus. So, if you know that about me, what can you possibly tell me?” And he said, “I can tell you that Jesus not only loves you, but He likes you.”

The woman started weeping. That’s all he said to her, and she released all that pain. He got her a cup of coffee and told her, “Jesus not only loves you, but He actually likes you.”

I can promise you that scenario is not in scripture. You cannot open up the Bible and find the place where it talks about how to handle a woman in a coffee shop who is angry and hurting. Sometimes, we have to ask for wisdom. Suppose the guy had told her, “Your time is coming. Jesus is coming back and it’s going to be too late. You’re going to go to hell.” He could have said that to her, but he would have turned her off. She would have walked out of that coffee shop, and she probably wouldn’t ever have believed in Jesus. But that’s not what he said. He didn’t react to her feelings or her words. He just let her speak, and he got her a cup of coffee. He earned enough trust that she was ready to listen to him. And when she asked, “What do you have for me,” he told her, “Jesus loves you, but He also likes you.”

And it’s all he had to say.

Ryan Vogelsong’s Faith

My teammate Ryan Vogelsong testified at Giants Fellowship Day last month.

Check it out. His honesty is so uplifting. He reminds us that even when we feel lost, God is preparing a path for us.

The Bible, man. It tells us what we need to know.

See you Thursday.

Selfless

There’s no better way to reflect God’s love than by helping someone in need. Why is this the best way? Because you have to be selfless to help someone in need. You have to be like Jesus.

Jesus! When He came down, man, everything He did was selfless. He didn’t have to, but He served everybody! He didn’t have to do any of the things that He did when He came here. He didn’t even have to leave heaven. Coming down here was the ultimate selfless act.

Can you imagine what He must have been thinking? I’m sure it was something like this:

I have to come to this little planet here, and help these people? You’re telling me that I need to come here, to this place, where they’re going to deny me, persecute me, judge me, run me to the edge of cliffs, and basically try to kill me all the time? Uh, really? Fun times.

He knew how hard it was going to be, but He did it. It was a selfless act.

Because I think He also said this:

You know what? I love these people, man! They are the reason why God, my Father, created life. He created life for the purpose of relationship. And I’m going to go down there and fix that relationship. I’m going to restore it. I’m going to feed the hungry, and I’m going to set the captives free.

It feels good to feed the hungry. Ask these Whitworth University students, who spent a day packaging meals for the hungry.

He came to restore us to God. That’s where Matthew 25 comes in, because that’s where Jesus separates the sheep from the goats. You know how it goes: “When I was hungry, you fed me. When I was thirsty, you gave me something to drink. When I was in prison, you visited me.”

That is huge! Think about it. It’s so big! “When I was hungry, you fed me.”

We may not understand why there is hunger in the first place. I don’t think we can truly understand why, because it’s not our call. It’s God’s. But it doesn’t have to paralyze us, because we have a calling. We’re called to be selfless like Jesus.

Jesus was selfless to come here. He did it because He loves us, and He promises to remember every one of our selfless acts. He shows us the way. He shows us how to be selfless just like Him, and He inspires us to do it with love. “When I was hungry, you fed me.”

And here’s the greatest thing of all. When we’re selfless like Jesus, selfless out of love, we find fulfillment. Being selfless like Jesus brings the fulfillment that we crave. We may not even know we crave it, but we discover it. All we have to do is experience it.  Fulfillment in Jesus is exactly what our souls crave.

When you can say that you helped someone who was hungry by giving them something to eat, you’ll experience it. That’s when you’ll know.

See you Monday.

The Discipleship Lifestyle

The Bible tells us to live and love like Jesus, and it shows us how to do it, by showing us how He lived and loved. Last time, I told you what I think it’s all about.

Now I’ll tell you what living like Jesus is not about. It’s not about health, wealth, and prosperity. These are things that God chooses to bless us with as He sees fit. Living like Jesus is also not about your “best life now.” Not all the time. I know some Christians say that once you’re saved, everything’s going to be hunky dory. But that’s a tactic they use to get you saved. And it works! People hear a promise like that, and of course they get saved. They think they’re going to become rich!

But then when they don’t become rich, they say there is no God.

We get into this salvation mentality. We think we just have to get people saved, and then once we do that, we think we’re done. I truly don’t believe that’s where it ends. I truly believe that salvation is just the beginning. It’s the beginning of a life of discipleship. It’s living out an understanding of what the Gospel means.

What is the Good News? I mean, what is the Jesus Gospel? That you have to accept Christ or rot in hell? There are people out there who are seriously claiming that a threat like that is “good news.” I’m sorry, but that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.

The lifestyle of Jesus, the one He lived and taught us to live, is good news. The discipleship lifestyle is the Gospel. Salvation and justification are part of it. They are our beginning, but we’re called to live it.

You hear people ask, “Did Jesus speak the Gospel?” And some people will say He didn’t. They will say He couldn’t have. They will say the Gospel didn’t come until after Jesus died.

That’s a little mind-boggling to me! I mean, Jesus is the Gospel! Jesus is the good news! Whatever Jesus did was the good news. He was IT! Of course He preached the Gospel, because He did the Gospel! But people don’t think like that.

That just shows me where we’re at. We’re stuck in this salvation mentality. We focus everything on Jesus’ death. We think we’re done being Christians when we acknowledge His death for our sins. But what about His life? How can we ignore that, when the Bible contains a detailed account of all the things He did and all the things He said, and all the instructions He gave to everyone who wanted to be His disciple?

Sometimes I ask myself why I live the way I live, and that nails what I’m saying here. Why do I live the way I live? I don’t ask myself why I am the way I am. I know the answer to that. I’m saved. I’m justified by Christ. But I don’t assume that means I’m good. I’m not necessarily good. I’m not necessarily right. I’m not necessarily on the right path. I examine the way I live, because I want to be His disciple.

Do I mess up? Yes. Am I always good? No. Am I always on the right path? No. But when I get off on the wrong path, I ask the Spirit to lead me back. And I believe that the Spirit does, because I want the discipleship lifestyle. I want to be deeper, I want to go further, I want to be on His path. How do I know when I’m on His path? I’m there when I’m fulfilled, when I’m happy, and when I’m full of joy. How about you?

See you Thursday.