Friday, July 27, 2007

How Much Have You Been Forgiven?

"For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little." Luke 7:47 Luke 747 (7:47) is a Jumbo Jet Verse. This prostitute knew she had done a whole lot against God's way of living. She knew she could never stand before God because of how she sold herself to men. She also probably felt horrible that she thought so little of herself and that men treated her so poorly. Read Luke 7:36-39 to get a small feel of how the religious leaders felt/thought about her. This woman needed Jesus' forgiveness and HIs gentle and kind touch on her heart. She certainly had sinned much. On the other hand, the Pharisee who invited Jesus to a meal at his home thought that his life was pretty much together. I assume he knew that from time to time he made some mistakes but, he made his sin offerings to the Lord so he and God were pretty close. He was the example setter for the Jewish community, his act has better have been together. This scenario is what brought Jesus to as Simon the Pharisee a question. Jesus said, "A moneylender had two debtors: one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. So, which of them will love him more?" Simon thought it over and confidently stated, "I suppose the one hwom he forgave more." Jesus told him that he was correct. Jesus turned to the woman who has spilling her tears and expensive perfume on his feet and drying his feet with her hair and told Simon that this woman realizes how badly she has sinned and therefore she is repentant. She has sinned much and knows she has been forgiven much and therefore, loves much - just look at how she is loving me. You Simon, you think you have sinned little and have dealt with it. Therefore you think that you don't have too much to be forgiven for and therefore, you love little - you would rather challenge me than worship me. So, how much have you been forgive? Maybe a better question is how much do you realize you have been forgiven? The answer lies in how you live your life. Do you live with gratefulness and by loving others well? Or do you live by thinking you just might know better than some and try to disengage for those a little more ugly than you'd like to hang out with? Let me suggest that you spend some time today at the feet of Jesus in silence and ponder just how much He has forgiven you. If you need some help, read Isaiah 6 and Romans 3 but end with Romans 5:8 and 8:1. Blessings on your journey, Ed

Thursday, July 26, 2007

A Dangerous Adventure

For the past few weeks, I've been thinking about what a life looks like that has Jesus as our One or primary focus. What does it look like to love Jesus the way He tells us He wants to be loved - with ALL our hearts, soul, mind and strength? As I've thought more and read more, I've come to understand that maybe there is a reason why I (you?) don't love God so fully, so wholly many times. Listen to what Kary Oberbrunner says in his book, The Journey Towards Relevance. "Why do the vast majority of people, inside and outside the Church, hide pockets of their hearts from God? Why do you and I fail to love God fully? Why do we prefer a dutiful religion that intellectually assents to a belief in God? Why are so few of us in a dangerous, adventurous, and passionate relationship with God? Why do guilt and fear characterize our faith when God longs for us to love Him with a fully engaged and reckless heart? I believe there is one main reason for our half-hearted attempts. Loving God without our whole self is safer? If we're honest, we'd admit we're deathly afraid of what it would mean to love Him with our whole hearts. He's a dangerous lover. He certainly cannot be controlled. So, we settle for a God who can safely love with our heads. We might throw a few dollars His direction. We might even attend a few religious services. Some of us may be extremely engaged in spiritual activities. But deep inside, we're deathly afraid. We appease Him with our works. We honor Him with our lips. But when it really comes down to it, who really wants to open his or her heart to a God who chose to let His own Son die? I mean right there, with that action, God clearly communicated that no one is immune to His crushing Hand, not even His own Son." Next time, I'll make a couple of comments about this thought and how it relates to something I taught on at our Gathering a few weeks ago from Luke 7:36-50. Read that passage and talk to God about your heart. I know that I'm talking to God about my heart and my love for Him. I really want to love Him with ALL my heart, soul, mind and strength - even though God is not safe...I know He loves me and will do what is best for me.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

An Atmosphere of Release

Creating an atmosphere of vision, empowerment, release and freedom sounds fun to me. It also sounds out-of-control ☺. In my experience, many Christ followers seem uninterested or possibly afraid of embracing this atmosphere of vision and freedom in ministry. It feels like many want to simply be given instructions to be followed – as long it takes little time. Maybe a common vision for people to be released, freed and empowered within is an answer for people to embrace this atmosphere of vision and freedom. I want to release and free people to reach-out in their own way(s) so that more and more people are connected to and worshipping Jesus Christ with their lives. This seems to be the best way for a movement of disciples to be reproducing without limit. People, becoming more like Christ (disciples), and reaching-out to touch others with His truth, grace and freedom is what is needed. • Cast the Vision of reaching out in natural ways. • Teach the truth of freedom in the Kingdom of God. • Present opportunities to dream and carry out the vision. The success of these ideas seems to hinge on God breaking through and influencing common people with a heart to reach out creatively for His glory. So, Father, I think I’m doing these things – providing vision and freedom. If I’m not, please teach me! Father, I ask you to influence the people I serve to be communal (have a common vision) in their organic churches and in our corporate sense. Please give them the heart to connect to a few not-yet-Christ-followers with the purpose of introducing them to Jesus. Amen

Thursday, July 05, 2007