“Religion in our time has been captured by the tourist mindset. Religion is understood as a visit to an attractive site to be made when we have adequate leisure.” Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction
When I started to work on the Discipleship Pathway at Westbrook, I looked for a metaphor that would do a decent job of describing our life in Christ. What does it look like to be a life long follower of Jesus Christ? After a lot of thinking and searching a landed on the idea of a pilgrim. In America, we tend to think of pilgrims as the people who started thanksgiving, but a pilgrim is a person who has set out on a journey for some sort of religious or spiritual reason. Some pilgrims travel to holy sites, other travel to discover themselves, or, like the pilgrims who came to america, they are traveling to find religious freedom.
For me, this has become one of the best metaphors for being a disciple of Jesus. There are a lot of good ways to describe what it’s like to be a Christian, but I think that this one does a fantastic job of capturing the lifelong journey of becoming more like Jesus. Continue reading →
It’s been a while since I have been regularly posting on my blog. From April to September of Last year, I was posting almost weekly. After September, however, it seemed like the ideas weren’t coming as readily and October is the month where things start to get really busy for me, so I let it slide. Since then, I’ve only had three posts.
Part of me feels like that’s a failure. At the beginning of 2015 I wanted to write weekly. I wanted to be more consistent in my writing and be more intentional about sharing what was on my mind and heart. The great thing about last year is that I seemed to go through a season where I had a lot of ideas and I was able to be really consistent with my writing habits. That is, until I found myself in October with a lot to do without much to write about. What I’m beginning to realize, is that it’s not a failure when I don’t post. I’m not a professional blogger and I don’t have thousands of readers waiting for me to make another post. So this year, I’m changing my expectations for this blog. Continue reading →
I’ve taken a few weeks to write about the two “theological virtues” of faith and hope, but now I want to take some time to focus on love. If you were ask Jesus or the New Testament authors what the most important characteristic of a disciple is, I’m pretty confident that love would be the answer:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” Matthew 5:43-44
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:29-31
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35
“…whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law” Romans 13:9-10
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:7-8
Hope is a powerful word. When you hear stories of people who made it through terrible trials, you often hear them say that they had hope or that they tried to not lose hope. It’s one of the words that helped propel President Obama to win his election. It’s also a very important word in the pages of scripture. It is a word that is supposed to describe God’s people, but what is it?
Much like faith, we use the word hope frequently and to some extent have missed the deeper meaning of the word. Especially in the case of hope, we often tend to water down the word so that when we see it in scripture it doesn’t have the power that it ought to have. If you’re like me most of the time, most of the time that you hear the word hope it’s wishful thinking, something that you would like to come to pass but it may not happen. Hope in scripture has a different meaning. It’s not wishful thinking. It’s confidence. Continue reading →
There’s a scene in the movie Princess Bride where Inigo Montoya, Vizzini, and Fezzik are looking out over a cliff as the masked man dangles from the rock face even though they just cut the rope that he was climbing. Vizzini says, “He didn’t fall? Inconceivable!” To which Inigo replies, “You keep using that word. I don’t think it means what you think it means.” That’s the way I feel sometimes about the way that we use faith.
Faith is considered one of the three theological virtues along with Hope and Love. Of the three, however, I think faith may be the one that is the fuzziest. I think it’s the one we use the most and define about the least. Many people will say that they have faith, meaning that they believe in God or that they hold to a particular “Faith” like Christianity or Judaism. We are told to have faith or encouraged to come to faith in Jesus, but what does that really mean? Continue reading →
Words can be very intimidating, especially if you don’t know what they mean. You may have experienced this when going to the doctor. A while ago, our daughter was sick and we took her to the pediatrician. When the doctor examined her, she told us that she had a virus and then gave us the name of that virus. For a split second, this this is scary, that is until she said that by the end of the week she’d be over it and she’d just have a sore throat.
Sometimes being a Christian can be the same way. People may use unfamiliar words to talk about being a Christian that if left undefined can seem intimidating or even scary. Disciple and discipleship fall under that category. They’re simply not words that we use on a regular basis outside of church and considering that the meaning of disciple in the Bible is somewhat rooted in what it meant to be a disciple of a teacher in the 1st century, it can be even harder for us to grasp. Continue reading →
My goal with this blog is to share about being a follower of Jesus in everyday life. I want to write about personal experiences, books, and things that I have learned that point to how to live for and like Jesus on a daily basis. That being said, there are also many people in this world who do things in the name of Jesus who set a poor example of what it means to follow Jesus. So this week I’m writing to say, I’m sorry for those who set bad examples and don’t show what it really means to follow Jesus. Continue reading →
If you are on social media at all, you have witnessed the explosion of posts that followed the SCOTUS ruling on Same-Sex marriage. Many words, both loving and hateful, have been posted, shared, and tweeted about what people think about marriage. When I read the posts from my brothers and sisters in Christ, I think that often they saying more about their faith and view of discipleship than their view of marriage.
In Seminary, the primary focus of my thesis was Faith and the work of James Fowler. Fowler created a faith development theory and at the heart of that theory is a very helpful way of understanding faith. Faith is ultimately about trust and whatever you find at the center of that trust becomes the foundation of your worldview. If God is at the center of your faith, then God is the foundation on which you build your worldview. If you, money, power, sex, or anything else is at the center of your faith, then that is what your world is built around. To have faith means to order your world and life around that person. Continue reading →
What does is mean to be a Christian? There are a lot of different views about what it means to be a Christian. Most of the time it involves a set of beliefs and specific practices that people use to define Christianity. Jefferson Bethke, who gained internet fame with the video “Why I Hate Religion but Love Jesus,” wants to define Christianity in one way and one way alone. He defines Christianity by Jesus. It seems so simple, but many of us make Christianity way more difficult and, in Bethke’s terms, “religious.” We set up rules and regulations, determine beliefs that we have to be for or against, and create lists of people we like and people we don’t like. Often times, when we do that, we lose one important thing, Jesus. Bethke’s book Jesus > Religion (read Jesus is Greater than Religion), is an encouragement to get back to the teaching and actions of Jesus and to get away from the man made religion that has been built up around Him. Continue reading →
Often times when we approach the story of scripture, we don’t realize the depth of the story that we are entering. When Jesus was here on earth, there was so much more going on that what is recorded in scripture. John even says so at the end of his gospel. It’s that depth that Frank Viola is exploring in God’s Favorite Place on Earth. The story element of his book is written in first person narrative from the perspective of Lazarus. Through the voice of Lazarus, Viola writes how Bethany was Jesus’ favorite place to stay when he lived on earth. He was welcomed by the people, developed deep friendships, performed a great miracle, and even ascended to heaven in the town of Bethany. After writing the story half, the other half of each chapter is a reflection on the text and application to our lives today. Continue reading →