Posts Tagged ‘discipline’

The Joy of Pain


Luke 2:8-14 Now there were shepherds nearby living out in the field, keeping guard over their flock at night. 9An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were absolutely terrified. 10But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid! Listen carefully, for I proclaim to you good news that brings great joy to all the people: 11Today your Savior is born in the city of David. He is Christ the Lord. 12This will be a sign for you: You will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger.” 13Suddenly a vast, heavenly army appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among people with whom he is pleased!”

In the Master’s Hands


In the right hands a wrench can build an engine, a pen can write an epic, and a paintbrush can create a masterpiece.  But when it comes down to it, all those things are inanimate tools.  But what if the tool had a life of it’s own.  What if the brush could cooperate with the artist and help create a unique work of art together?  What if the Artist could put the brush in motion, and let go, and watch the paintbrush go on creating?

I know that sounds weird.  But we have a Master who wants to do amazing things with us, and we are not inanimate objects.  We are living, breathing, thinking, beings, with a will and creativity and desire.  So the real question is, how can you cooperate with the Master to create something beautiful with what he has made you to do?

The Cross


I’ve heard so many people give me opinions of what Jesus was like who have obviously never studied the Bible.  They say silly things like he was a great teacher and he loved everybody and taught tolerance.  But you usually don’t see people clamoring to execute nice teachers who teach tolerance.  Jesus was a hard man.  He was full of compassion and kindness, but his teachings were not soft and tolerant in the slightest.  He said things that made people want to kill him.  And they did kill him.  And he told his disciples to expect it.  And he told them if they were going to follow him they should expect the same kind of treatment from people.

I think too many church people think that being a Christian is about putting on a happy face and singing songs and getting along with everybody.  But Jesus said that his teachings would cause people to hate your guts—even your own family members sometimes.  And he said if you’re not ready to be hated by your own family, if you don’t love me enough to give up everything else you love and prepare yourself for death, you’re not ready to be my follower!  That doesn’t sound like the friendly tolerant Jesus that a lot of people talk about does it?  But I dare you to read through the Gospels and then prove me wrong.

One of the things Jesus said over and over is “Take up your cross and follow me.”  In other words prepare yourself for extreme difficulty.  Before it became a popular piece of jewelry, the cross was an implement of bloody, humiliating, painful, horrible death.  It wasn’t pretty.  And when people came to follow Jesus he said you’re not ready to follow me until you’re ready to die for me.  Until you’re ready to sacrifice yourself for the cause of saving other people from Hell, you’re no good to me.

Jesus never deserved to die.  He never did anything wrong.  But he condemned sin and hypocrisy, and people don’t like it when you do that to them.  And the crazy thing is, he died to offer even his executioners a way to find forgiveness and new life.  He died to save people—including everybody who wanted him dead at first.

How about you?  Are you ready to die to save anybody—much less somebody who hates your guts.  Are you ready to love your enemy and try to bring him salvation.  Because if not, Jesus said, “If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine.  If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.”  Check it out in Matthew, chapter 10.

and Justice for All


This is kind of a continuation of “Well FORGIVE me!”  It deals with the place of forgiveness in situations of repeated abuse.  Can you mesh forgiveness with justice?  Is there a way to give grace without promoting lawlessness?

I don’t mention this in the talk, but if you think about it, the answer to that questions was Jesus giving his life on the cross.  If God wanted to forgive everybody without any desire for change, Jesus wouldn’t have needed to die.  God could have just said “I forgive everybody no matter what.”  And it would have allowed everybody to continue living wicked and selfish lives.  But then Heaven and Earth would both be places of eternal evil because the law would have been thrown away to make place for universal forgiveness.  But in making his ultimate sacrifice, Jesus demonstrated the legal consequence of our evil as a motivation for us to stop breaking God’s law and live a life in accordance with all God asks of us.  So if we are willing to turn away from our selfish lawlessness and obey God, he can forgive us and promote justice at the same time.

Jesus said “Those who obey my commandments are the ones who love me.”  So if we truly care about Jesus and what he said and did for us, our lives must be changed out of our love for him.  We can’t live as enemies of God if we truly love him.  So when people say something like “Just ask Jesus into your heart” it’s never some mantra or empty religious ritual that saves you.  It’s the fact that the love Jesus demonstrated for us with his life, death, and resurrection, motivates us to return love to him and live lives that will make him happy.  We enter into a relationship of mutual love and find forgiveness, not as a technicality for some empty prayer, but out of deep desire for God to be reunited with us in purity and righteousness.

So real grace not only forgives a perpetrator, but also promotes his or her best interest, which is eternal righteousness in accordance with God’s law.

Get it?