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Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

About a month ago I purchased Minnesota Gopher Hockey tickets from a co-worker for a game coming up this week. For those of you who are not from

Book by Kyle Idleman

Minnesota, typically the University of Minnesota Gopher Hockey are one of the hottest venues for sports entertainment in the State, especially for games against other teams that are doing well.

Yesterday, I decided I better try and find the tickets that I paid $70 for. After turning the house inside out, and searching my work bag 3 times, I came up empty handed. “Well,” I thought, “at least they might still be in my desk drawer at work.”

After getting to work, I searched all the cabinets and drawers. No tickets! Bummer.

I called Lisa for something else this morning and relayed the outcome. I asked her if she’d be kind enough to help me look one more time at home. Sometimes my bi-focals play tricks and I miss the obvious right in front of me. She also had to pick me up this evening at the park ‘n ride. When she picked me up at 5:30 I got in the car and said I was sorry I’d misplaced the tickets and wasted $70. And then I said, “I think I should ask the Lord if he’d show me where they are.” And I asked her if that sounded like a dumb thing to do. Lisa and I have been studying about God’s sovereignty over all things and 2 missing tickets seemed such an insignificant item in the vast schemes, plots and problems of the world. But we said let’s just pray while we drive home.

We prayed. I asked God to forgive me for asking about such dumb thing as this, and that I felt bad about wasting the money and not keeping track of stuff. I said it was okay if we didn’t find the tickets, but that I really wanted to feel better and not beat myself up over such insignificant things.

After dinner Lisa helped me go through the usual spots in the house  where we usually put stuff like tickets. Then we got out my work bag for the 4th time. She started emptying out the contents and working our way through the items.

Suddenly, a book I’d recently finished fell out on the floor. The book is by Kyle Idleman called not a fan. Becoming a completely committed follower of Jesus.” The book asks readers a simple question: Are you a fan or a follower? And to quote the back cover, the point of the book is that Jesus isn’t interested in you being his fan (e.g. an enthusiastic admirer.) “Fans want to be close enough to Jesus to get all the benefits, but not so close that it requires sacrifice….Jesus was never interested in having admirers. It’s not fans he is looking for.”

I picked the book up off the floor, rifled the pages and the 2 Gopher hockey tickets tumbled out.

Lisa and I looked at each other and I started laughing. And then I got a little teary eyed. God has a sense of humor, oh yes. But he also used this to remind me of something very important. I can talk to him about anything and everything. He’s in every little detail of everything that happens in the universe every day. And he reminded me that being a follower means talking with him regularly and talking about more than just Gopher hockey tickets.

He loved on me just enough to get me to laugh and loved on me hard enough to cry and receive his grace and his invitation to converse…daily. I’m a fan of Gopher hockey and not a fan of Jesus, but a follower. Hope you are too.

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Lisa and I are about half way through a 16 week course on discipleship at church. It’s been a really great class. There have been several instances of God speaking to us through the course homework.  Several times we have been challenged to think about when significant things occurred because someone else had the courage to follow through on challenging our behavior, thinking, words or beliefs.

The point was simply that someone cared about us or loved us enough to do what seems hard to do, but when they did it, it had eternal repercussions.

I know I haven’t always thought of the eternal consequences of my relationships with others as a motivation for what to say or how to say it when I’m with them. When it comes to discipleship and sharing the Gospel, the learning for me is that our relationships need to be intentional, our words, actions and behavior toward the other person should be motivated out of a brotherly love for the eternal well-being of the other.

As a result of knowing this, I’m beginning to understand the importance of my conversational intimacy with Yeshua. The sound of that intimacy is amplified when I shut my own mouth, quit talking and listen to Him and then, of course, do what He says.

That conversational intimacy allowed God to use me (a misfit from the island of misfit toys if there ever was one) as a blessing to my uncle and in-turn that became an encouragement that God is all over the details of our lives. He is. He really is. To God be the glory for that. For confirmation of this story: click here.

I leave you tonight to consider these words from Yeshua Messiah: “If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor [Helper] to be with you forever – the Spirit of truth.”

If you need prayer and encouragement because you desire to know the Gospel of Yeshua Messiah and want conversational intimacy with Him, leave us a comment on the blog. We’ll commit to praying specifically on your behalf. We also will direct you to on-line resources that provide more information about a relationship that promises conversational intimacy with your creator.

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In this post, I’d like to speak to the roots of this blog. A special feature of this experiment is that Blada is a dual blog. We wanted to share a creative outlet as a means to demonstrate that we’re on the same path, ruled by a single Master. We got married late in life, at a time when most of our contemporaries are seeing their kids graduate and go to college. Unlike most of our contemporaries, we didn’t date for years or have a long engagement. Because we waited longer than most, we both knew what we were looking for and when we found it, we dove in.

Our Wedding at Jax Cafe in NE Mpls

Our wedding theme, “One”, is from Ephesians 4:6 from The Message Bible, “You were all called to travel on the same road and in the same direction, so stay together, both outwardly and inwardly. You have one Master, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who rules over all, works through all, and is present in all. Everything you are and think and do is permeated with Oneness.”

It is this love note from God that has enabled us to clear early hurdles in our first few years of marriage. This morning another familiar verse from Ephesians stood out to us as we drove to the orthopedic treatment center to check on Lisa’s foot. We heard it on the radio, from the New American Standard Bible, Ephesians 5:28-30, “So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body.”

What stood out was that first sentence about husbands loving their own wives as their own bodies. I’ve always thought that the writer of Ephesians (Paul) wrote a strange sentence. What did that mean, love my wife as I love my own body? The help for understanding is found in the verse from our wedding about “oneness”.

The verse isn’t saying we men ought to love our wives “like” we love our own body, but rather we should love our wives in the same way we love ourselves because our flesh is made AS one in the person of Christ. This verse has presented itself as vital to the foundation of our marriage over the last 2 1/2 years. Most recently in the adventure of Lisa’s broken foot. It has been important for me to put aside things that I wanted to do and/or think about in order to be present for Lisa, provide her support and encouragement and demonstrate love.

This is what we’re all called to do when we accept Yeshua as Lord. We put to death those things we once considered as important and look to elevate Yeshua in all things, this is especially true in our marriage.

Lisa’s broken foot is temporary. It will eventually heal and we’ll be back to our old routines. But I want to publicly thank God for allowing this broken foot to come along and remind us of what’s really important. He is perfecting in me the verse we held up as we made wedding vows to each other, and I’m glad he’s provided me with someone forgiving and patient with me as I learn to love the way He loves.

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What was important to Steve Jobs at the end of life may surprise you. The title isn’t a question. Writer Walter Isaacson has spent the last several years interviewing Steve Job’s to write Jobs’ biography. As Steve’s cancer took over his body, Jobs’ mind remained sharp, his physical abilities deteriorated. But that’s not what the book is about as you’ll see if you watch the CBS 60 Minutes interview of Isaacson. Part One of the interview here.

We’re reminded that Jobs didn’t write any code, he wasn’t even the best engineer. “He was a master at arranging ideas, art and technology in ways that repeatedly invented the future.” So it wasn’t Jobs’ words, nor his writings that intrigue us, it’s his person. How he lived leads us to want to know what was important when he was about to die. And that is because in our own minds, we wonder, “If I knew when I was going to die, would I change the way I live now? What would be important to me?”

I read about this book in last week’s copy of Time where Isaacson gives a two page preview of the book [subscription required] as part of a focus article on Jobs’ accomplishments. Summarizing the book preview, Isaacson writes,

“A few weeks ago, I visited Jobs for the last time in his Palo Alto, CA home. He had moved to a downstairs bedroom because he was too weak to go up and down stairs. He was curled up in some pain, but his mind was still sharp and his humor vibrant. We talked about his childhood, and he gave me some pictures of his father and family to use in my biography. As a writer, I was used to being detached, but I was hit by a wave of sadness as I tried to say goodbye. In order to mask my emotion, I asked the one question that was still puzzling me: Why had he been so eager, during close to 50 interviews and conversations over the course of two years, to open up so much for a book when he was usually so private? “I wanted my kids to know me,” he said. “I wasn’t always there for them, and I wanted them to know why and to understand what I did.”

<Pause>

Interesting. One of the most recognized men in America needed a guy to write a biography of his life because it was important that his kids “knew” him and “understood” him. I plan to read this book, but I do so with a strange question I noted in an article by John Piper on the Desiring God website entitled, “He Kissed the Rose and Felt the Thorn: Living and Dying in the Morning of Life”

The strange question from Piper is, “Books about sinful men can deflect our attention from the main book about the sinless man. So is the writing and reading of such books a good thing?”

Piper begins,

“The most important example in all of history of someone who did not publish any books and died young, and yet made an impact on the world all out of proportion to his short life, was Jesus Christ. He was about 33 years old when he was crucified. Today 1.3 billion people call themselves Christian because of his life and death and resurrection.

The key to this impact is two things, not just one. It’s always two things. First, and most important, is who he was—the sheer truth and power and beauty of the God-man. Being who he was created a movement in the world that is irrepressible. It was not his writing. He did not write. It was his Person, his spoken words, and his actions. His presence in the world was inescapable and unendingly powerful. That’s the first key to his impact on history.

The second—and there must be a second—is that Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, Peter, James, and Jude portrayed his Person and work in writing. They did write. And by means of those writings, the reality and truth and power and beauty of the Son of God can be known today. If there had been no Person, there would have been no books. And if there had been no books, we would not know the Person. And we would be lost.”

If you get to the second part of 60 Minutes’ interview with Isaacson, you’ll learn that as Steve Jobs’ body inched closer to death, he became more and more hopeful for a continuance of life while still struggling with the idea that he was either “on” or “off” – in binary, that’s either “1” or “0”. Steve never did like the idea of being turned “off”, so he didn’t design products with an “off” switch.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that Steve came to know the one Person who authors life and offers everlasting life. But it’s not because there isn’t a book describing Him. He wrote a book that not only tells you who He is and what He’s done, but it reminds you that He’s always been there for you – whether you believe in Him or not.

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John Eldredge is the author and leader of Ransomed Heart Ministries. I have read all of John’s books and attended 2 of his conferences in Colorado. Here is a quick review of his latest book, Beautiful Outlaw.

Beautiful Outlaw inspires me to relate to Jesus in new ways, like many of John’s other books. Beautiful Outlaw focuses on the “man” in the personality of the God-man, namely Jesus. John describes how the humanity of Jesus is God’s beautiful solution that enables us to relate to him personally. He argues that the humanity of Christ is as important as his sovereignty, and experiencing Christ’s full personality is paramount to knowing him. He faults too many churches for letting the Deceiver distort Christ by being “highly invested in doing religion right.” In other words, their focus is on our performance versus what Christ has done for us and how he has made himself available to us to experience real life.

Biblically speaking, experiencing is the subtle and very Hebrew way of “knowing” someone or something. God leads the Hebrews into Sinai for 40 years in order to teach and test their hearts by experiencing what it means to be totally dependent on him for everything. This is God teaching them and us how to begin to “know” God.

John unpacks Jesus’ character one chapter at a time providing a channel to experience Jesus’ playfulness, fierceness, generosity, honesty, freedom, cunning, humility, trueness, beauty and loving.

By the middle of the book [pg 124], John really closes in on the crux of the barrier of experiencing God’s full character. Specifically he writes, “Consider the natural human longing to be loved and admired”. I would go further and say Jesus made each of us with a God sized hole in our heart that only he can fill. John’s point is that we all desire to be loved unconditionally for who we are. So when Jesus relates to us with his humanity, we hide [see Adam & Eve]. We don’t believe him because we don’t think of ourselves as worthy enough to receive the promises of these personal characteristics. We don’t believe we’re worthy because our experience focuses on our performance, what we think and what others think. The solution is to focus on Jesus’ performance, and on what Jesus says about us. John says, “Love Jesus. Let him be himself with you. Allow his life to fill yours. Everyday give him your life to be filled with his.”

John likes to quote George MacDonald. This quote isn’t in the book, but it seems to sum up the barrier that John is trying to help tear down, “Man finds it hard to get what he wants because he does not want the best. God finds it hard to give because he would give us the best, and man will not take it.”

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This Easter seemed to shine as bright as any that I could remember. Perhaps the long winter finally giving way to a bright, warm day contributed in large measure to the overall experience. On the news people are quoting the same word, “Finally”! Yes, that about sums it up.

The entire country has battled severe weather recently, especially in the 2 weeks leading up to Easter. The floods and twisters left a path of destruction over these last days. In Minnesota, the bad weather down south forced cold temperatures to remain locked over the midwest and turn rain into snow deep into April.

Lisa in her new Easter Dress! Beautiful!

A month ago, I’d encouraged Lisa to buy a new dress for Easter, just getting ready this morning promised that the day was going to be the turning point we needed to get us into spring.

Resurrection Sunday started out by attending Good Friday service. On Friday our hearts were tuned towards a somber reflection of what Yeshua came to do for us. On Saturday we spent the morning and afternoon with family enjoying a wonderful meal and marveling at how big the kids had become just since Christmas. Saturday night Lisa and I went to the Penumbra Theatre and saw the new play “I Wish You Love” written at the Penumbra workshop, produced by Lou Bellamy and performed by Dennis Spears.

The show is a tribute to Nat King Cole, the music and the man. If you have a chance, you should try to get a ticket before the show moves to the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington DC. Dennis Spears makes you believe that he IS Nat King Cole. He is truly amazing. The play tells the story of the troubles that Nat Cole had keeping his TV show on the air as he fought against NBC executives who were afraid to stand up to advertisers who threatened to drop their support for Nat’s TV program in the face of the civil rights movement and segregation in the South.

We left the show remembering the costs to so many brave Americans who stood up for the rights of all Americans in the face of segregation. We couldn’t help but think that no matter how horrible that history is, no matter how much suffering was inflicted, it didn’t compare to the suffering that our Lord endured on Good Friday for us.

The play at the Penumbra on Saturday night really helped us remember the salvation that has been offered to everyone:

“That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10

The music seemed louder, trumpets blared, voices sang, drums rolled and we rejoiced that the stone is rolled away and the Lord sits at the right hand of the Father. Does your heart long for peace? Does your soul cry for justice? Does your very identity cry out for a personal, approachable and close relationship to God?

If you have asked any of those questions, then remember the words of Jeremiah 29:13:

“And ye shall seek Me, and find Me when ye shall search for Me with all your heart.”

He is Risen! Happy Resurrection Day!

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