Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Trusting Why God Moves

Here is "Trusting Why God Moves" by Joseph Barkley. It's been a while since I've done one of these Ecclesia sermons, so this one is a bit old. You'll find it a few rows down here:

http://churchinhollywood.com/media.php?pageID=15

This sermon is based off of Exodus 14:31 - 15:18. It is a song that the nation sings after God has drowned their enemies in the Red Sea. Go ahead and read that or the notes won't make much sense.

I love what Joseph says here about the glory of God, and what that means. He says that everyone is hard-wired to have a main-thing in life, and I agree. It seems that we are predisposed towards following or worshiping something in life, no matter what. For me growing up (and maybe now  too) it was bands and skateboarding. My sister obsessed over N' Sync and Harry Potter (teenage girls are really good at obsessing over things). My dad loves cars and motorsports. It's just a tendency in our lives to associate ourselves with something we identify with or feel passionate about.

For many, those things come and go; replaced by new fads or more adult ventures. It's not always destructive to associate yourselves with these things in life, but I think everyone would agree that the total significance of skateboarding, Five Iron Frenzy or Ford Mustangs isn't much in the grand scheme of life. Further more, it all dies with us.

Joseph says here that the most destructive thing a human can do is count on an inadequate god. I don't think I would ever admit that skateboarding was my god, but I sure devoted A LOT of time to it (and still do). Most people probably wouldn't admit that money is their god, or career or family or gardening...but maybe it is? I've seen people with "Music is my Religion" stickers. I love music and attach a great deal of significance to its power to evoke emotion or describe a situation (after all, the bible verse for this sermon is a song). But is music an adequate god?

http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_mdyqbqGJLG1r33fiwo1_500.jpg

If God really is who He says He is, and can defeat sin and death; and if there is no one like God, then nothing else deserves the seat of authority in our lives. That's a paraphrase from this sermon, but it's true, right? If the God of the bible is who He says He is, then putting our faith in our 401k, Jimi Hendrix or my ability to kickflip is futile. It's okay to enjoy those things, especially in light of God ("Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." - James 1:17), but pay attention to who or what carries the most weight in your life, or your path may be a rocky one.
  • The ultimate goal of the movement of God is the glory of God
    • "And God said, 'I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.'” - Exodus 3:12
  •  They sing a song as a nation after they escaped the Egyptians
    • They saw their worst fears lying dead on the shore in broad daylight
    • Movement 1: God has done great things
      • It was no big deal for God (blowing the sea with just the breath of your nostrils)
    • Movement 2: You will do great things
      • There are enemies still to be faced (Moab, Canaan, Edom, Philistia)
    • All of this leads the Israelites to believe that God is unstoppable
      • What fear has become your god?
        • Our God is bigger and can't be stopped
  • Glory is the totality of who someone is, and why that matters
    • Glory means weight, density, heft, significance, influence, importance
      • It forces things out of the way
    • We all have a measure of glory
  • This is a song about God's significance
    • God's name (Yahweh) shows up often
    • God BECOMES our strength and our salvation
    • "Who among the gods is like you, Lord?" - Exodus 15:11
  • Why is it important that God tells the world who He is?
    • Whether we like it or not, we are hard wired to follow a main thing.
    • Something or someone is of ultimate glory, weight, significance in our lives.
      • Who do you serve?
      • The most destructive thing that a human can count on is an inadequate god
    • If God really is who He says He is, and can defeat sin and death; and if there is no one like God, then nothing else deserves the seat of authority in our lives
      • If God is at this place in our lives, he reorients everything else in our lives.
Read More

Monday, August 26, 2013

Living Like Heaven

Here is the last sermon in the Heaven series by Judah Smith. 

I’ve struggled with the idea of social justice. Not that I’m against it at all, but I’ve thought, “Why should we fight for justice on earth? Shouldn’t that time be spent towards sharing the gospel and getting people into Heaven?” 
It’s similar to the question of whether providing for physical or spiritual needs is most important, particularly in ministry to underprivileged people or third world countries. I’ve heard it said you can’t help someone spiritually unless their physical needs are first meant; but I’ve also heard that our spiritual lives and eternity far outweigh our physical needs, so those should be addressed first. I’ve always tended to lean towards the latter...

In this sermon, though, Judah points out that Jesus prays in the Lord’s Prayer that God’s will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. So then we ask, “How is it in Heaven?” Good question. Using scripture, Judah puts forth 5 circumstances in Heaven that we should strive to make come true on earth (see below). Why? Because Jesus prayed for it, so it must be important to God and His agenda.

It’s a fresh insight on the Lord’s Prayer that beckons action in a place where I was previously hesitant.



John 3:13 - "No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven--the Son of Man."

  • Jesus' life and ministry was shaped by eternity
  • Keeping eternity in mind helps bring our problems to their proper light
  • Heaven is not an ambiguous, far off concept, but something that serves us today
  • Colossians 3:1 - "If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God."
    • "if then" = since this has already happened
    • It's not doing, it's always being that's first
    • What has been done to you will enable you to do what God has called you to do
      • It always starts with God and our hearts
    • "Seek" = orient your life around heavenly realities more than pursue
      • Heaven is far more real than Earth
    • We have "resurrection power" in our bodies, whether we realize it or not
      • Because of this, live now like it is in Heaven
      • We have been given the opportunity to experience Heaven on earth
  • We are to organize and orient our lives around Heaven's reality
  • 5 Heavenly realities that we should orient our lives around (Rev. 21 & 22)
    • In Heaven there is no sin
      • "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." - 2 Corinthians 5:21
      • We don't have to plan on sinning, or to prepare for sin and its recovery
    • There is no sickness in Heaven
      •  We should pursue healing - both with doctors and God
    • There is no injustice in Heaven
      • We fight for the oppressed and against inequality
      • There is both diversity and equality
      • We do this, not because we are good or want a cause, but to live like Heaven
    • There is no unbelief in Heaven
      • We need to pursue greater trust in Jesus, with less trust in ourselves
    • The glory of God permeates all of Heaven
      • This is the ultimate theme and essence of Heaven
      • All of Heaven is shaped by God's glory, and exists to add to God's glory
        • Everything we do should be shaped by God's glory
        • You will add to God's glory by your passion and skill
          • People will say you're crazy and you've gone too far, but if you've been permeated by God's glory, it's okay.
          • Is there a higher privilege on this planet than this?
          • There are people who will be affected eternally because we say "yes" to God
          • Financially: a dollar is meaningless, but when we invest it in ministry we attach value to it.
http://thecity.org/message/living_like_heaven
Read More

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Father's House

Here is the next sermon in the Heaven series by Judah Smith. There's so much encouragement in this sermon!

One of the first things Judah says here is that we will be surprised by who makes it into Heaven. I'm not proud of it, but I have a tendency to judge people...and if I'm honest there have been people in my life who, though they might believe in God, I thought that their faith might not be genuine enough to carry them to Heaven. What a terrible thought! And then I come across this sermon and Judah makes a statement like that and I know he's right.

Jesus often said the first will be last and the last will be first in the Kingdom of God, and I'm sure this will ring true one day as we find in Heaven that many "religious" people aren't there, and many "less-religious" are. These are morbid thoughts, I know, but they bring things into perspective when it comes to God's judgement of our hearts and the outcome from that. The older I get and the more I learn about God, it seems that He is most concerned with the alignment of our hearts than our behavior.

I encourage you to listen to this sermon to the end. Judah says some great and encouraging things about Peter, who I think is one of the most relatable characters in the bible.



Some notes:
  • If we're going to live like Jesus, we need to live considering Heaven
  • John 14:1-6
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
  • We all want a place to fit in
    • Society pushes the idea that you are supposed to act a certain way to fit in
    • Jesus didn't teach this...
  • John 14 is Jesus' farewell discourse
    • When Jesus says, "Don't let your heart be troubled," it more accurately is "anguish."
      • It's deeper, an accute mental and physical pain
        • The antidote is Heaven - "My Father's house"
      • Jesus is saying that in His Father's house, there is plenty of room for everybody.
      • What troubles us the most? 
        • Ourselves (guilt, shame, condemnation - all self-inflicted)
  • We will be shocked by the people we see make it to Heaven
    • God has a place for everyone
  • The prodigal son - Luke 15:11-32
    • He thinks there's no room for him in his father's house, so he tries to be an employee
      • This is mankind's mindset
      • Many Christians call this humility, God calls it pride
    •  The father immediately and emphatically shows him that he's still in the family
  • Peter fishing and being restored - John 21:1-17
    • Peter went back to what he was called out of - fishing
    • He brought people with him - our troubles affect others
    • The first thing Jesus says is "children."
      • That's relational, that's family
    • God loves us all, but sometimes he zooms in on us (like Peter)
    • Jesus met them at breakfast, not church
      • Jesus doesn't rebuke them, He feeds them
http://thecity.org/message/the_fathers_house
Read More

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Responsibility

I don't know about you, but I struggle with making decisions. I'm not sure where this rampant indecisiveness came from, but I have been known to make a big deal out of the most trivial of choices. For example, once when I was in high school, I was sitting on the couch, staring into nothingness. My sister walked in and asked what I was doing. "Trying to figure out if I should go skateboarding or play video games," I replied. She thought that was dumb and left. Almost an hour went by and she came back, only to find me sitting in the same place! "Why are you still sitting here?!" she asked. I was still trying to figure out if I should go skateboarding or play video games. By the time I decided, I could have done both!

I'm not that bad anymore, but I still struggle with decision-making, especially when it involves other people. I never want to make a decision that someone else may not agree with, and then have that particular situation turn out poorly for the both of us (or even just the other party). This happens a lot when I'm going out to eat with friends. What if everyone else doesn't want Taco Bell? What if I choose Taco Bell and everyone else gets sick because of it? What if the ladies in the group hate Taco Bell (because most of them do), and are angry the rest of the evening because of it? My solution is to just shelve my opinion and adapt to whatever someone else wants.

The problem is that this has permeated so much of my life, that every decision is, "I don't care. Do whatever you want." Even big ones...and as I examine this situation, I end up landing on the fact that I don't like to be responsible for the outcome of a situation if someone else is affected by it. If so-and-so has a bad night, it's my fault. If the car I choose for my wife breaks down, it's my fault. If our apartment is next to a highway and we never sleep, I put us here. Those are some extreme circumstances (and not all factual), but you get the idea.

So then I come across this verse the other day:

1 Corinthians 6:1-3
If any of you has a dispute with another, do you dare to take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the Lord’s people? Or do you not know that the Lord’s people will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life!
It really brings things into perspective, doesn't it? If I am capable to judge the world and angels, certainly I can judge what is a good place to eat for us; or how to get there, or where to live.

Mark Driscoll said in the Peasant Princess sermon series (check earlier blogs) that men of my generation shy away from responsibility. Our Savior, however, took responsibility that wasn't His (our sins) and bore them. If Jesus is our model and our Lord, shouldn't we be taking as much responsibility as we can?

This verse is a huge encouragement in the area of responsibility for me, and hopefully it is for you too.  


Read More

Friday, August 16, 2013

Keep It Clear

*Preface: This was written awhile ago and I'm just now posting it. Sorry for dated information.

I just heard that there was a shooting in Santa Monica, just a few days after last week's shooting that resulted in 6 people dead, 7 if you include the killer. It seems like these shootings and bombings are happening more and more often (Boston Marathon, Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech), but I'm not always sure if that's the case -- these things have probably been happening since mankind started. As Reese Roper of Five Iron Frenzy put it, when speaking about the Columbine shootings, "Mankind is dark...and that, without God, people do things like that."

This sermon by Judah speaks about things being done on Earth as they are in Heaven, as prayed by Jesus in the Lord's Prayer. He asks an obvious, but seldom mentioned question: if things are supposed to be on Earth as they are in Heaven, what's it like in Heaven? He gives great insight into it based on scripture -- definitely worth the listen.

After I heard about the shooting I prayed with this teaching about God's will being done on Earth in mind, and I think for the first time I really prayed earnestly that God's kingdom come, and that His will actually be done on Earth.

In the past I've been hesitant to pray this because, in my mind, if God's kingdom comes, then this life is over and a new one has started. I like this life though and there are a lot of things I want to do in it still! I know God's kingdom is better and a life there will make the old one pale in comparison, but it's still my attitude as I have aspirations of career and family. I'm not saying it's right, but it's there.

However, when I keep seeing these awful things happening in our broken world, I can't help but ask God for His peace to come down. This teaching by Judah, plus a reminder of the darkness we exist in, has got me starting to believe that God's kingdom is worth praying for. That may sound like a no-brainer, but it's not my default emotion or motive if I'm honest.




Some notes:
  • John 3:13
    • Jesus making the claim that He lived on earth after He lived in Heaven
  • The more Heavenly minded you are, the more earthly good you will be
  • Luke 11 - "teach us to pray as John also taught his disciples..."
    • Jesus gives us an attitude in approaching prayer
      • Consider that we have a Father that is in Heaven
    • "Your kingdom come, Your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven."
      • We become a portal for God's will to be done on Earth
    • "...as it is in Heaven."
      • How is it in Heaven?
  • Revelation 21: new Heaven and new Earth
    • Everything is "clear" - transparent
      • There is transparency in Heaven
      • The light of the Lamb permeates everywhere due to the transparency
  • "...as it is in Heaven" should affect and frame our entire lives
  • What is Heaven all about?
    • Beauty, nature, gems, awesome scenery, gold, etc.
      • These good things aren't wrong, for we will enjoy them in Heaven
      • The nature of these things is clear & transparent though
        • Nothing is an end, but a means to an end...it's about Jesus!
      • Possessions are not the enemy, unless they possess us.
        • You can have nothing and be consumed with having more. You can have an abundance and be consumed with glorifying God
        • The way to overcome greed is not being broke, but by giving with the right attitude.
    • If your treasure is in Heaven, your heart will be there too
      • Luke 11:34 - "Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are healthy, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are unhealthy, your body also is full of darkness."
        • "Healthy" here means "single" - you will be a whole person
        • If you focus on Jesus, He will illuminate our entire structure
      • If the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness (Matthew 6:23)
        • He's talking about legalism, where they thought they had light, but it was actually darkness
  • Matthew 6:33 - "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."
      • He'll throw everything else in too, but it's about His RIGHTEOUSNESS
      • Jesus is the focus. Keep it clear.
  • Matthew 5:20 - "For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven."
    • Their righteousness was self-righteousness
    • We make it like that..."if you can do this, that, etc....you can be a part of the kingdom of God."
  • Galatians 5:22-23 is not the "Fruits of our discipline, works, etc."
    • It's the Fruit (singular) of the Spirit
    • It's not about good things like church attendance or character qualities
      • Like the transparent gold in Heaven, it's not about the gold but rather about revealing Jesus.
  • In Heaven, all things step aside and say, "Behold, the Lamb."
  • Jesus never offered complex relationships

http://thecity.org/message/keep_it_clear
Read More

Monday, August 12, 2013

Transparent Gold - Courage

Here's the third sermon in the Heaven series by Judah Smith. This one is about a new heaven and new earth, written about in Revelation 21 (powerful stuff). Essentially Judah is saying that we should use our money for God's glory because God is infinitely more valuable than anything on earth. We also shouldn't shy away from talking about money, or be afraid of it -- Jesus spoke often about money. Let's use it.

I was reading Revelation 21 though, and something else jumped out at me in verses 6b to 8:
To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.
The word that stuck out to me is "cowardly." That's the first thing Jesus says is what will keep you from heaven in this verse. I've been thinking a lot about courage lately, and I'm not sure why. Maybe it's because I watched Braveheart for the first time a couple weeks ago. It seems to be a recurring theme in a lot of the media I've been consuming lately. I also watched Drive last night (which I don't recommend for a lot of reasons), and there were a couple characters that were highlighted for their cowardice, which is obviously in stark contrast to Ryan Gosling's selfless courage.

It's obvious that humans don't respect cowardly people. But it's not just that they don't like them; it's a deeper lack of respect that sets them apart, making them even lower than human in some eyes.

Self-preservation at the expense of others is how you "win" in life, right? That's how you survive the evolution of a dog-eat-dog world. But when these characters are contrasted to men and women of courage, who count their life as nothing but a tool to do what's right - the self-preservationists fall meekly in their shadows.

This is my favorite verse in the bible right now - 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 - "Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love." Isn't that great? Strength and love together makes for a great man - a "warrior poet" as William Wallace would have said.

I've never noticed this before, but this verse in 1 Corinthians is sandwiched between mention of Timothy, Apollos and the "household of Stephanas." Timothy is presented as doing God's work in a situation where fear needs to be guarded against. The household of Stephanas as described as having "devoted themselves to the service of the Lord’s people." Apollos, however, is mentioned as unwilling to venture to Corinth. 

I did a little research and tradition states that Apollos became upset at a schism in the Corinthian church, of which Paul remedies in this letter. Apparently some time later Apollos returned to the church after the schism was healed. Could it be that Apollos was not acting in courage, and is here contrasted to men that were? It's hard to say because there doesn't seem to be a lot of information about it, but it's something to think about...


Here are some notes from the sermon:
  • Because Jesus had lived in Heaven before on Earth, everything He saw, lived, expressed, spoke, etc...was framed within the context of eternity.
    • He lived from Heaven to Earth. We live from Earth to Heaven
  • Revelation 21 - A New Heaven and Earth
  • Matthew 6:19 - 21
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
    • Jesus uses some extreme metaphors here - moth, rust, thieves
    • Earthly things don't last
    • Jesus isn't necessarily anti-possessions, but he is talking about the heart behind it
      • Our attitude needs to be the exact opposite of the norm
        • "No moth, no rust, no thieves" -- the exact opposite
    • Jesus is asking, "how do you think about your stuff?"
      • Does your thought process towards things, mirror your thought process towards your spouse? God?
      • Is your thought process framed with Heaven?
    • Revelation 21 should change the way we view things on Earth
      • Gold is asphalt, pearls are drywall
      • All of the things on earth that are "glorious," pale in comparison to the glory of God in Heaven
        • Make your money transparent = use it to glorify God
      • Money is not an end, it's a means
        • Don't be afraid of it, use it, because God is the Great Treasure
        • Don't be afraid to talk about money, everyone else is. Jesus did often.
    • Jesus comes as the greatest economist and investment strategist ever
      • He says shift your investments to Heaven
    • Jesus sets us free from the anxiety and fear of money -- having it or not having it
      • You cannot lose with this perspective
http://thecity.org/message/transparent_gold
Read More

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Paradise

Here is the second sermon in a series about Heaven by Judah Smith. In it, Judah recommends "Heaven," by Randy Alcorn, and "Heaven is For Real," by Todd Burpo. I've never read them, but maybe they're good.

I don't think much about heaven...it seems kind of far-off and mystical. I actually become a little afraid imagining myself standing amongst a throng of worshipers in an unknown paradise. Maybe that's fear of the unknown; or maybe it's just comfort with earth. Judah makes a good point though, "To let ourselves get caught up imagining paradise, it increases our urgency to tell others and minimizes our problems." That seems to be his thesis to this whole series. He reminds us that it's okay to get excited about heaven! It's the place God intended for us to exist in in the first place!

I definitely encourage a listen to the whole series, as it builds into some powerful statements about how thinking about heaven affects our lives on earth.


John 3:13 - "No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven--the Son of Man."
Luke 23:39-43
One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”
But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”
Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
  •  In this exchange with the thief
    • Jesus, in the worst pain ever, assures the thief for whom He is dying
    • Jesus replaces the thief's word "heaven" with "paradise"
  • Rev. 2:7 - "Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God."
  • What's heaven going to look like?
    • Look around...at the end of the age there will be a new heaven and a new earth
    • Our planet is innately good - "it is very, very, very good" in Hebrew
    • The earth is under a curse (like us) and will be redeemed (like us)
    • "That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him." - 1 Corinthians 2:9
  • Jesus' resurrected body is a good indicator of what it will be like (John 21:1-14)
    • He eats!
  • Why use the word "paradise?"
    • Is heaven, but not necessarily the "new heaven and new earth"
    • The word is closely associated with, and sometimes a derivative of, The Garden of Eden
  • Three men hanging on trees
    • Jesus bringing assurance to a criminal who deserves his punishment
    • The two categories of people: those who think their righteousness is enough, and those who admit that it isn't and depend on God
  •  Heaven can be more tangible than we think
    • Revelation 22
      • Describes a tree, a river, streets
      • We will have duties
      • Music, arts
      • "They will see his face" = the zenith of heaven
        • Nothing will compare to that joy
  • To let ourselves get caught up imagining paradise, it increases our urgency to tell others and minimizes our problems.

http://thecity.org/message/paradise

Read More

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Direction in Transition

Here's one of those verses I've read so many times that I am often numb to its meaning. Today though, God showed me something fresh (one of the things I love about the bible):

Romans 12:1-2

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
 A lot has been going on lately, as God has been teaching me to let go of  many of the things that drive me -- particularly, my career. I haven't figured everything out yet, but I'm slowly loosening my grasp on a lot of what I've been clinging to as I pursue a career in media -- things that have often taken a place higher than God's. There have been a lot of ways that this has been happening (circumstances, thoughts and conversations) -- too many to mention -- but it's brought up some fresh insight into this verse...

"Offer your bodies as a living sacrifice." That says a lot about what I'm going through -- giving up things I've held to (and not necessarily bad things) that may be getting in the way of what life is actually about. Trading things that I've determined are my purpose, for what God says my purpose is.

"Do not conform to the pattern of this world." What is the pattern of this world? An good insight into this came from a bible study I attended last night. Judah Smith spoke on John 5:1-15, the story of a man who had an infirmity for 38 years and sat at this pool where, every so often the waters were stirred, and the first one who got in was healed. This particular man could never get in because he didn't have someone to help him -- someone else always beat him to it.

Judah described the scene as chaos, as this was where sheep went in and out of the city, as well as so many disabled people all trying to get in this pool at the same time. This man had existed here for 38 years, living in chaos because that's the only way he know how to live. Judah pointed out that this is how our lives are on this earth, and especially in my industry: it's cutthroat, where you rely on connections, networking, talent, dedication, hard work, etc. to realize your dreams. Not that those things are all bad, but I find myself discouraged entering this world, because I might not have what it takes; someone else is probably faster or more talented. I probably feel similar to the lame man who couldn't get his "break" because he didn't know the right people.

Then Jesus shows up, who asks him an obvious question, "Do you want to be made well?" The nameless man talks about the times he almost got in, but couldn't quite make it. Then Jesus tells him to get up. He does, and it works!

Jesus showed up with a new way of doing things, contrary to the way of the world; and it's a better way, a path that relies on God's grace and mercy rather than my own cunning or effort.

Back to Romans...don't conform to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to determine God's will (paraphrasing). As I learn to say, "God, you can have my goals and my life," I can't help but come up with the question afterwards, "but then what am I supposed to do?" This verse is the key...

In the process of letting go (offering myself as a sacrifice) and not doing things the way the world does, I will be able to determine God's will. It's as if I can't even know God's will without letting go of my own. So when I can do that, I will be able to learn what God, the One who created me to do something, wants me to do.

That's powerful stuff, and a much needed word as my life transitions.


Read More