Monthly Archives: April 2012

Anyone

Going to church on Sundays can be hard. And I’m not talking about the battle with the alarm clock…that happens on a daily basis. I go past the Nike shorts and pull out a dress and heels, spend some extra time trying to tame the hair, slap on some make-up and it’s out the door.  When I get there, people ask you how your week has gone with the answer always, “Great.” I sing songs and then listen to a sermon about how God loves me.  All the while people around me are in their “Sunday best” learning about their Savior and counting down the minutes until noon so they can chunk up the deuces and hit up Rosa’s.

I don’t know if this is just my experience or if others share it with me.  But man, going to church seems to have lost is genuineness (I think I made that word up.) 

Since when does God care that your Nike shorts and Chacos stayed in the closet? Since when does he want you to mechanically respond to the how are you doing questions? Since when does he want His children to put on a front to go see Him?

Man, and it’s sad because churches are seeming to become more and more “exclusive.” If you’re in a Baptist church and someone puts her hands up and starts wiggling…for some reason it’s not okay. It someone shows up in tattered clothes, they are not allowed.  If some kids show up that have a bad reputation in town, it is frowned upon for them to enter the sanctuary. 

What kind of mess is this?! 

The Gospel is not limited to John 3:16.

For God so loved that world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.

True, the believing aspect is crucial in salvation, but then again so is following, as stated in Luke 9:23.

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.

Jesus said “anyone.” Not only certain people who fit the mold and whatnot. He said anybody.

Matthew certainly fits this mold.  He had another name, Levi. To be given that name means that your parents expected you to serve the Lord like the Levites did in the Old Testament.  To become a student of the rabbis, you had to send in an application, and it is very likely that Matthew got cut.  He couldn’t measure up. So after that he took up tax collecting for the Roman government. Tax collectors usually took more money than asked for from the people so they would have some for themselves. They were seen as religious and social outcasts, not allowed into the outer court of the tabernacle. And what does Jesus do? He invites Matthew to follow him. And Matthew gout up and followed him, leaving behind his condemned past as a tax collector.

Saying yes to following Jesus meant saying no to his shady business.  But isn’t that a good thing?

Nowadays, people don’t know Matthew as a tax collector but as a disciple who wrote the first book in the New Testament.

Luke 5:29-32 describes the events after Matthew left everything to follow Jesus.

And Levi made him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at the table with them.  And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

We need to bust out of our comfort zones and accept the “sinners.”  Because aren’t we all sinners?

 

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Attention

Imagine practicing all week long for the biggest game of the season.  You have stayed in the gym countless extra hours to perfect your jump shot and increase your percentage from the charity stripe. Once game time comes, you’re in the zone and ready to go.  After the starting lineups are announced, the opposing coach walks up to your coach and the refs and announces his team is going to give you the win.  What?! Being the way to super overcompetitive person that I am, I want to work for a dub, not just be given one.  

God shot that perspective down this morning.  Man, think about His grace.  There is nothing I can do to earn my way to heaven. I can’t follow enough rules, I can’t do enough community service, I can’t solve world hunger…..nothing. The only thing that gets me there is God’s saving grace through the death and resurrection of His Son.  

Countless times I have studied and been taught the Beatitudes in Matthew 5.  Its “counterpart” is found in Matthew 23 entitled the Seven Woes.  The religious leaders are teaching the people about the Bible, but their actions aren’t matching their words.

So practice and observe whatever they tell you – but not what they do.  For they preach, but do not practice.  Matthew 23:3

Right off the bat in this passage, what am I doing? Are my actions matching my words? 

Backing up, let’s compare the first seven Beatitudes with the woes.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. // But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves or allow those who would enter go in.

The first says that you are nothing without God’s grace.  The latter says the church leaders are false leaders who have drawn the people away from the kingdom of heaven instead of toward it.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. // Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.

The first discusses the loss resulting fro sin that should lead to mourning and a longing for God’s forgiveness and healing. The latter is about the manner in which the teachers sough converts, only to place them under the burdensome weight of many requirements in their extrabiblical traditions.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. // Woe to you, blind guides, who say, “If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.”

The first discuses those who do not assert themselves over others in order to further their own agendas in their own strength because they trust in God to direct the outcome.  The latter is about the leaders focus on misguided superficial distinctions an overlook the higher principles of the law.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. // Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weighteir matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness.

The first is about recognizing that God is the ultimate source of real righteousness, so they long for his righteous character to be evident in people’s lives on earth. The latter is about the teachers stressing the small details while overlooking the far important matters. They are straining the small bugs from their wine while swallowing a camel, the largest animal they knew of.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. // Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.

The first is about showing mercy and receiving it in the end. The latter is about the teachers seeking external purity while becoming oblivious to the corrupt internal condition of their hearts.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. // Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like the whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness.

The first is about the pursuit of purity and uprightness and how it affects every area of life because purity of heart is most important. The latter discusses the tombs that on the outside were very beautiful held death and decay on the inside.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. // Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous…we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.

The first is about those who promote God’s messianic peace and are called sons of God because they reflect the character of their heavenly Father. The latter is about those people plotting Jesus’ death.

Alrighty, back to Matthew 23. Who are the scribes and Pharisees Jesus is calling out?  The Sanhedrin was a religious ruling body of 72 men. There were two different groups in it: the Sadducees and Pharisees. They did not get along, at all. The Sadducees were very liberal, and the Pharisees were very conservative. If you were a Sadducee, it meant you were born into that position.  If you were a Pharisee it was not about your family but your hard work.  Ok, cool. What is a hypocrite? We call people these all the time, but what does it really mean? The word comes from Greek ancient classical theater; Greek actors were called hypocrites. One man would have many different roles and wear certain masks for each one.

They were too busy following the rules rather than Jesus. What people see didn’t reflect who they were. 

They do all their deeds to be seen by others.  Matthew 23:5

Who do you do your deeds for? I wish I could say I did them all in following Jesus, but I do them for the acceptance for others also.  Plus, I am never vulnerable about my faith.  I put on a mask to make it look like I’m the perfect Christian  and everything is running smoothly when on the inside that is not the case.  But man, Jesus does not expect His followers to be perfect but to be authentic.  He says in 2 Corinthians 12:9 that He is made perfect in my weakness.

“We try and do enough to make up for our mistakes and earn God’s favor.  Instead of following Christ we are determined to make our own way.  The keyword for grace is “done.” Our punishment was taken by Christ. He has made a way where there was no way so we live with a freedom and an appreciation for what has been done. Fans are about the do, but followers celebrate the done.”

So, what are you? Are you a Sadducee or a Pharisee?

Sadducee. Were you born into faith but never really chose it? You never truly fell in love with Jesus? It has always been more about honoring your heritage than surrendering your heart?

Pharisee. Do you measure your faith by your hard work at following the law? How is your inside? Does it match the perfect facade you are carrying on the outside? Saying and doing the right things aren’t enough. He wants your all.

Jesus came to free us from religion, but we must obey Him. That obedience comes from the inside out. What we do or don’t comes from who we are as followers of Jesus. 

Man, it is time to stop worrying about the appearance and focus on what truly counts, the inside. It is time to stop putting on a show for others and live genuinely for the Savior.

 

Cost

Earlier this week the NCAA announced possible sanctions for Baylor because of impermissible phone calls and text messages to recruits.  My thought on this is we had become too successful, and people were trying to figure out how “scrubby little Baylor” was bringing home the hardware.

Now, I’m not a D-1 athlete, but I know what goes into being one. Being an athlete does not just guarantee them the easiest classes ever and makes them the cool kids on campus. Y’all, being an athlete is hard work. Free time is something that rarely comes in the off season. They practice, the eat right, the hit the weight room, they build up their endurance, they perfect their skills and then they do all their homework and get an adequate amount of sleep to do it all over again.

While the appearance of being an athlete seems glamourous, it costs them a lot more than it seems. Think about Perry Jones III and Brittney Griner. Both of them are great athletes and have found success at Baylor, but the hate mail and criticism they have to endure is insane. Those two could have easily chosen to forego athletics in college but they knew the cost and determined the outcome was worth it.

Ok, cool story bro. What are you trying to say?

Think about your walk with Christ right now. When you became a believer, you were told that it was a free gift because you did nothing to deserve it, right?  Man, if I told you this I apologize. Being a Christian is not about merely believing Jesus is who He said He is (but that is super important). It is also about following Him.

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. James 1:22

Nicodemus in John 3 was a member of the Sanhedrin, an elite group of religious leaders.  He went to Jesus at night so that he would not seen by others, and he is faced with a choice: religion or a relationship with Jesus. It takes him a bit to understand that he cannot follow Jesus without receiving some criticism.

“Most of us don’t mind Jesus making some minor change in our lives but Jesus wants to turn our lives upside down.”

You cannot follow Him without it interfering with your life. The Gospel is not something that costs you nothing and promises everything.

“There is no forgiveness without repentance. There is no salvation without surrender. There is no life without death. There is no believing without committing.”

Believing and knowing Jesus are deeper than we see them as.  Knowing Jesus is an intimate thing.

In Genesis 4:1 it says, “Adam knew his wife.”  Well, we all know what that means. That same word, know, is used in Psalm 139 for how God knows us. He wants an intimate relationship.

It is the difference between knowing of someone and knowing someone.

I can tell you the stats of athletes, but it doesn’t mean that we bro out on a daily basis. There is a difference between knowing about them and truly knowing them.

To express this knowledge will cost you as well. In Luke 7, a Pharisee, Simon, invites Jesus over to dinner. When He enters, Simon does not greet him at the door with a kiss, provide water to wash his feet or oil for his head. That wasn’t an accident; it was intentional. While they were eating a prostitute appears.

And standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment.      Luke 7:38

She is so focused on Jesus that she forgets herself. When we worship God, how concerned are we about our appearance to others? Just let go and praise your Savior.

“When is the last time you had a moment with Jesus like this woman? When’s the last time you’ve poured yourself out before him? When’s the last time the tears streamed down your face as you expressed your love for him? When’s the last time you demonstrated your love for him with reckless abandonment.?”

Following Jesus will cost you your life. But it is worth it.

Bread

Hot mess. It has been way too long. I had such a blast in Denver getting to watch and cover the Lady Bears finish business. While I was there, I did not make time to spend with God. Which is awful. Then I got home and dealt with the post effects of altitude sickness and again did not make time to spend with Him. There is no excuse. If there is a time period when I am not posting, there is a good chance I am not in the word. Feel free to call me out on it. 

In about a month, I am going to be headed back out to Van, Texas and Sky Ranch for the entire summer. I am so excited to get to meet new people and spend the summer loving teenage girls well and speaking truth to them. However, in the past I have fluffed up the gospel, making it seem more attractive so they will accept it. Which is so wrong. 

I just started a book called “Not a Fan” and didn’t make it past the prologue before it blew my mind and broke me down.  

Check out Luke 6.

A large crowd was following Jesus after seeing him perform miracles on the sick.  They come to a stop on a mountain. It is Passover. Jesus asked what they were going to do about feeding the huge crowd. BUT HE ALREADY KNEW WHAT HE WOULD DO. That statement has a much greater impact beyond multiplying the fish and bread. Andrew seems kind of sassy to me when he points out the boy with the bread, but Jesus uses it. Everyone on the mountain got their fill. Jesus began to feel like he would get jumped by the crowd for providing this abundance of food from nothing so he escaped to the mountain. While he was there, the disciples peaced out on their boat, leaving Jesus behind. In the middle of the night while they were in the water, Jesus shows up walking on the water and they let him into the boat. What is that?! That is randomly put in the middle of this insane story. Is it to portray that Jesus wanted to show himself to his followers not his fans? I don’t know.

So in the morning the crowd wakes up and realizes that Jesus has crossed the sea. They get in boats to follow Him. They are not looking for Him for a message but for more food because they are hungry. When they get there, Jesus knows what brought them to Him but refuses to offer food to keep them by His side. “Truly, truly I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves…I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall not thirst.” Called out. Krista. Stop seeking me for what I can give you. Stop following me for the benefits of salvation. Seek me for who I am. Seek me for what I am. I am life and everything I can give you will satisfy. You don’t need all these extra things. You should not follow me to get the riches of heaven. You should not follow me to get grape juice on Sunday. You should not follow me to “fit in.” You should not follow me because you want the benefits I provide. Want to follow me because I am the Son of God. Period. Final. This is not a coke zero commercial where you get me and… You should be satisfied with me. End of story. There is no sugar coating this. To follow Him with all of these benefits is to CHEAPEN THE SAVIOR OF THE WORLD. Who am I to lessen Him???