Love and Anger

Jesus served. He was the perfect model of servant leadership. He was the ideal. He was It. When people were around Jesus, they realized the fullness of their identity because He showed them who they really were — the image-bearers of God! They were created by God in His very own image! As soon as they saw who they really were, they lived in their fullest humanity.

Jesus served even when He got angry. Jesus was angry with the religious leaders of His day because of the way they were misrepresenting God. But He didn’t go around hurting people in anger, not even in zealous anger. When He was angry with the Pharisees, He talked to them about it. He explained His anger to them. He said, “Here is why I’m angry with you. You’re treating people like they’re not human beings. You’re actually ruining the reputation of my God! You say you’re a follower of God and a holy person. Then you act unholy and say it’s what God wants. That’s wrong!”

Jesus handled zealous anger really, really well. He had the ability to get angry and explain it. He could tell someone why He was angry. And then He could look at their heart and pierce it in a way that they fell in love with Him. He could express His anger so that they were convicted to stop doing what they were doing.

Jesus controlled His anger. Think about what happened when He flipped the tables in the Temple. That was some zealous anger, right? But He didn’t wound people! Instead He asked them, “Why are you treating my Father’s house like this?” Jesus used the exact language He needed to convict those people on the spot. He got their attention, and when He had it, He said, “My Father’s house is a house of prayer. It’s not a marketplace.” Everybody there that day understood exactly what what He meant, and they heard Him! They heard what He had to say, and they reflected on it. They said, “Man, this is how we’ve affected this guy, and God. We need to change.”

It’s really good to be able to change people’s hearts with your anger, but it takes a lot of Jesus to pull it off. Most people don’t do it right. I don’t do it right. It’s very hard to do. It’s so hard, in fact, that if He were here, none of us would even try. We’d just let Him do it, right? He had to leave so that we’d try!

More on this next time. See you Thursday.

Living the Good News

I think the Bible tells us to live and love like Jesus, and the scriptures tell us a lot about how He lived and loved. You can see for yourself what the Bible says about loving our neighbors as ourselves, as servant leaders.

I’ll tell you what living like Jesus is not about. It’s not about health, wealth, and prosperity; at least, not the way the prosperity Gospel preaches it. Those are things that God chooses to bless us with as He sees fit. There is a season for all of these things, but they are not meant to be our focus as followers of Christ. Whether you are blessed with them or not, you can still be fulfilled through discipleship.

We get into this salvation mentality. We get saved, and then 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 the beginning of living the Good News.

What is the Good News? I mean, what is the Jesus Gospel? The lifestyle of Jesus is a huge part of it! The life He lived, and taught us to live, is very good news! Salvation and justification are part of it. That’s the beginning of our life in Jesus. But then, we’re called to discipleship. We’re called to live the Good News!

I’ve heard people say that Jesus didn’t speak the Gospel. They say He couldn’t have. They say the Gospel came after He died. That’s a little mind-boggling to me. I mean, Jesus is the Gospel! Jesus is the Good News! He was It! Of course He preached the Gospel, because He was the Gospel! He did the Gospel!

When I hear people say that Jesus didn’t speak the Gospel, it says to me that we’re stuck in a salvation mentality. We focus everything on Jesus’ death. We think we’ve completed our lives as Christians as soon as we acknowledge His death for our sins. But that’s just where we start. What about Jesus’ life? How can we ignore that, when the Bible contains a detailed account of it? It tells us what He did and said, and it contains the instructions He gave to everyone who wanted to be His disciples.

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. That’s who I am. 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 a disciple of Jesus.

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 to be a disciple of Jesus. I want to be a servant leader like HIm. I want to be deeper. I want to go further. I want to always be on His path.

How do I know when I’m on His path? I’m there when I’m serving the way Jesus served. I’m fulfilled, happy, and full of joy.

How about you? See you Monday.

Be Encouraged

For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. Romans 15:4

If you actually look at what’s going on, it’s hard to feel encouraged. We’re in economic turmoil. We have a crisis going on. There are real issues with poverty in America. I definitely see that, and I want to help.

I want to help in other parts of the world, too. There is a water crisis going on. At least in most American cities, you can go to a drinking fountain and get fresh water. And just drink. If you really needed to, you could probably go into some restaurant bathroom and take toilet water in a cup and drink it. It would still be good, in the sense that it would take care of you. It wouldn’t give you a disease.

I see a lot of suffering everywhere. So sometimes, it’s hard for me to feel encouraged.

It’s not like the scriptures aren’t encouraging. The Bible is full of encouragement! It’s just that sometimes I struggle with it. I’m encouraged by who I am. I’m encouraged in who my family is. My family is healthy, my sons are awesome, my boys are going to be great, and God has taken care of us. I don’t have a hard time sleeping at night, wondering who’s going to pay the bills. I don’t have that issue. Obviously I’m encouraged that way.

But I also have a heart for the people. I don’t want to be self-absorbed. It’s not just me and my family in this world.

Christians are lovers of humanity. That’s who we are supposed to be. We’re supposed to help one another. We’re even supposed to love our enemies! But it’s really hard sometimes to love your enemies, when you see what they are doing to people. So how do we help and love one another, even our enemies, and how do we do it well? How do we do it without judgment or condemnation?

Sometimes I think, “God, that’s impossible for me. For You it’s possible, but for me it’s not.” And yet He reminds me. He tells me, “You know, with Me all things are possible. For someone who is not a believer in Me, or who is not led by my Spirit, it’s impossible to love their enemies. But for you? You have Me in your life. So yes. You can do it. You are to show that it is possible. You are to show that your joy does not come from what you can see, but from what you cannot see.”

My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Colossians 2:2-3

Be encouraged. People everywhere in the faith are struggling with the pain and suffering they see, but they are finding ways to help. Be encouraged that God is at work. When you start looking at the world through scripture, through the eyes of Jesus, people will feel your joy. And they will be encouraged.

See you Thursday.

Knowing You Are Loved

Our society deals with a lot of hurt and suspicion, right? So how can you let people know that you truly love them? How can you let them know that they can trust your love? Well, how did people know that Jesus loved them? Why did people trust His love?

One reason was His servant leadership. Jesus served people!

When your wife feels loved, it’s because you served her, right? The dishes are done, the trash is empty, the cars are clean, and the tanks are full of gas. These things make her feel loved, man. Instead of looking at a never-ending pile of chores and feeling overwhelmed, she feels loved.

You serve her when you tell her how beautiful she is. You serve her when you let her know how important she is to your life. These things encourage her. That’s service! And when you tell her these things, you’re being vulnerable with her. You’re being transparent. What about telling her when you’re scared? That’s service, because now you’re asking her to help you. These things make her feel alive, and make her feel like she can make a difference. Those are feelings of being loved. It’s very, very important.

I want to fill my sons’ love cups. When I feel like those cups are full, it’s because I’ve hung out with them. I’ve encouraged them. Their dad’s around them. Their dad smiles at them and loves on them.

Their dad also disciplines them. My sons will hear me say, “You can’t do that.” But they know it’s because I love them. People talk about “tough love,” but tough love isn’t about tearing someone down. Tough love is about giving someone constructive criticism that’s going to make them better. Tough love never loses sight of the image of God that lives in every one of us. Tough love is about recognizing the reality of where someone is, and telling them where they can be. It’s reminding them of who they are, and letting them know, “You’re not there. But you can get there. You have the ability to get there.” You encourage them so that they feel fulfilled. They feel built up. They feel strong.

When I say to my sons, “You can’t do that,” they also hear, “I love you.” They hear, “This is who I think you can become. We can do better. You’re not there yet, but I believe that you can get there.” And then, when they achieve something, I look at them and say, “That’s what I’m talking about. I believe in you. I’ve always known you can do this. I’m so proud of you. I love you.”

That’s love, man, when you feel like you add up in somebody’s eyes. You feel loved when you feel like you can measure up. You feel loved when you can say, “ Man, whenever I’m around this person, I feel like I can achieve greatness.”

Love is based on encouragement. You can know and trust that someone loves you when they are pouring into you, and you’re pouring into them. When somebody encourages you, loves on you, says positive things, and builds you up, you can be sure that you are loved.

More on this next time. See you Monday.

Getting Out of the Way

Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it. (John: 14:12-14)

Imagine what it must have been like to be around Jesus. It would almost be overwhelming. I think I can understand where the disciples were at. They must have heard Jesus say this and thought to themselves, “What?! How am I going to be able to do what He does? This guy is unbelievable. He’s a hero! I don’t even know where to start.”

Jesus knew that as long as He was here, the disciples wouldn’t be able to do the things He was doing. They couldn’t! As long as they were with Jesus, they were going to feel inferior to Him. Jesus understood that. “That’s why I’m going to leave,” He told them. “You’re going to do greater things than I’ve done. The only way is for me to leave.”

He said, “I know I’m going to overwhelm you by my ability to do what I do. You’ll think you can’t do it, so you’re just going to let me do it.” And that’s what happened, right? But Jesus wanted the disciples to do the works that He did. For that to happen, He had to get out of the way.

But here’s the cool thing. Jesus said, “I’m going to serve you, and I’m going to be the ultimate servant leader. I know you won’t feel like you can do it. So I’m going to send the Holy Spirit, and He’s going to guide you. My friend is going to come here, and He’s going to give you wisdom. He will guide you to do things the way He saw me do them. He’s going to say, look, this is what you should do, and this is how Jesus would do it.”

This is what servant leaders do. They convince people that they can do something, and then they get out of the way and let them do it. Jesus does this for us. We see what He did, and we want to do it too. We want to do our best to live like Him. So He sends the Holy Spirit. Then we can do our best, and we can become what He molds us to be.

Servant leaders know how to surround themselves with people that they can lead by serving. Then they get out of the way. You’ve got to know when to get out of the way. Let people become what they are destined to become, and achieve greatness. This is what Jesus did for the disciples. We can be like Him by serving each other. And we do that by loving each other.

More on this next time. See you Thursday.

Opening Doors

Yet, O Lord, you are our Father;

    we are the clay, and you are our potter;

    we are all the work of your hand. (Isaiah 64:8)

I went for so long, looking at a homeless person, and saying, “Get a job.” I went for so long, looking at someone begging for food, and saying, “Go to a food kitchen. Quit begging.” For so long, I didn’t have a heart for the poor and the impoverished.

Then I got totally lost in life. That’s when God gave me that heart and that understanding of what it’s like. Now I look at people who are homeless or hungry, and I say, “Man. I know that pain. I feel that pain. I never want to be there again. And I don’t want you to be there, either. So I want to help you out.”

It’s when you have that heart and that understanding that you start serving, right? That’s why you serve somebody. You can’t serve a person who is hungry, if you don’t understand why they’re hungry. Jesus had a full understanding of it, of our physical hunger, our emotional hunger, and our spiritual hunger. And He fed everyone.

We see what He did, and we want to do it too. We want to do our best to live like Him. But in order to do that, you have to let Him mold you. In the Bible He says, “I’m going to mold you and shape you. I’m going to let the Holy Spirit come and give you wisdom. I’m going to mold you and shape you into what you need to be. I need you to have the heart of a servant, because that’s the only way that you can live like me and do the things I did.”

Same as Jesus, you have to meet people in their needs. “Don’t worry!” He says. “You’re going to be able to lead. You’re going to have vision, and push people to be great, by serving them just as I served. You will see someone that wants to be great, and you will want to try to create doors for them, and then open those doors up.” That’s what it’s like to be a servant leader.

Sometimes these doors are literally doors. I’ve heard that some feminists object when men open doors for them. They think that the man is saying, “I have to do this for you, because I don’t think you can do it for yourself.” Of course women can open doors! That’s not why men open doors for women. I know full well you can open a door for yourself. Men should be opening doors for women because they want to serve them. It’s called chivalry, and it’s not dead. Chivalry is still alive. When a woman wants to take it from us, we don’t understand why.

Serving someone is not the same as saying, “You can’t do this for yourself.” That’s not it. Being a servant is saying, “I serve you in order to honor you.” I think our society is losing track of this idea of being a servant leader by loving and honoring our neighbor. We’ve lost our way in this regard. We need to figure out a way to get it back. We need to figure out a way to get people to understand that we can all serve. Male, female, child, teenager, whatever — we all can serve each other. We just need to try to create understanding hearts. The more we do, the more understanding we’ll create.

The only way to do it is to reflect Jesus, because He was the ultimate servant.

More on this next time. See you Monday.

Compassionate Leadership

I see your pain and I feel it. I’m frustrated because you’re frustrated. I’m sad because you’re sad. Empathizing with someone in pain, and weeping with them, is one of the most powerful ways to love on them. It’s how you serve them. It’s what Jesus did!

Some leaders say, “You’re looking to me to lead? Okay, then, I’ll lead. I’m going to tell you what you need to do.” That’s not a servant leader. The greatest leaders, like Martin Luther King, Jr., are the ones that inspire people to do something because they want to do it, not because they were told to do it. And the only way to do that is to lead as a servant. and to serve the people who look to you to lead.

When people were around Jesus, they felt their fullness in who they were. It takes a servant leader to do that. People wanted to be around Him, and they looked to Him to lead. But at the same time, He looked back at them, and told them who they were at their greatest. He showed them who they really were, created by God in His image! And when they saw that, they lived their fullest in their humanity.

By looking to Jesus for their example, servant leaders can motivate people the same way. They can give people the ability to look at their challenges and say, “I can do this. I can do this because this person loved me so much and poured so much into me. He didn’t try to take from me. He actually gave back to me.” That’s what Jesus did.

So when Paul tells husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her, Paul is talking about husbands loving on their wives by serving them. Recently, my wife experienced disappointment when a dream of hers unexpectedly crumbled. She’ll get another chance to pursue that dream, and plenty of other dreams too, but that’s not the point. It was that dream, crumbling on that day, that hurt her.

I wanted to be there, as her husband, to love her and serve her. I felt her frustration. I was frustrated because she was frustrated. Obviously I’m not perfect in my flesh, so I didn’t love and serve her exactly like Jesus would have. In fact, I made mistakes. I was serving her, but not always the way that she needed me to.

But she knows my heart. So she gave me a big hug the next morning, and said, “Thank you for being here. I was frustrated, and I know you felt it, and I appreciate you being here. I needed you.”

We can forgive each other when we understand each other’s hearts. This day, and every day, I’m all in for her. I’m trying to figure out how to do that the best way I can, to empathize, to serve, and to let her know that I see who she is when she is at her greatest. I’m learning how to help her feel her fullness in who she is. I am there for her.

That’s how I want to serve my wife. I’m not always going to be perfect, but I can do the best I can.

You have to be able to take on the pains of people and understand where they are at in order to serve them. This is  true for your husband, your wife, your children, your family, and your suffering brothers and sisters in Christ. You can’t serve a person who is hungry, if you don’t understand why they are hungry.

More on this next time. See you Thursday.