Stop Trying


“You will all fall away,” Jesus told them, “for it is written: ” ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.” Peter declared, “Even if all fall away, I will not.” “I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “today—yes, tonight—before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.” But Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the others said the same.

-Mark 4:27-31 (NIV)

You’ve just got to love Peter, right? The Son of God tells him what’s going to happen, and Peter says “No Way!”. I can’t crack on Peter too much. The other disciples were right there with him and I do it too. We can easily miss seeing something of ourselves here if we’re not careful. How many times are we SO confident that something will never happen to us? I dare say we even look at Peter and say, “That’ll never happen to me. I’ll never mess up like that.”

We’re so confident in what WE can do.

While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came by. When she saw Peter warming himself, she looked closely at him. “You also were with that Nazarene, Jesus,” she said. But he denied it. “I don’t know or understand what you’re talking about,” he said, and went out into the entryway. When the servant girl saw him there, she said again to those standing around, “This fellow is one of them.” Again he denied it. After a little while, those standing near said to Peter, “Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.”He began to call down curses on himself, and he swore to them, “I don’t know this man you’re talking about.”Immediately the rooster crowed the second time. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows twice you will disown me three times.” And he broke down and wept.

-Mark 14:66-72 (NIV)

Peter’s confidence in himself was broken. It had to be. Broken, that is. For Peter to grow, it was necessary for him to lose all confidence in his own ability. He had to know that he couldn’t follow Jesus in his own power.

We have to realize that we can’t do it ourselves.

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”

-John 21:15-19 (NIV)

After Peter was broken, he had to be mended. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Peter had denied Jesus three times and Jesus is now giving Peter three chances to declare his devotion. Then Jesus says, “Follow me!”. This was an invitation for Peter to stop trusting in his own ability to follow Jesus and live the Christian life and starting trusting the only One Who is able to live such a life to live through Him.

“To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.”

-Colossians 1:29 (NIV)

With all HIS energy.

Stop trying in your power and start trusting in His power.



Rest

Sorry for the lack of posts the last few days. I’ve been either really busy or really lazy depending on which day it was. Now I need some rest. I just wanted to drop this before bed. Perry Noble had this post Wednesday. It included this quote:

“In the Bible God calls those who will not work lazy, but He calls those who will not rest disobedient.” -John Walker

He also included this Scripture reference:

This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says:
“In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength,
but you would have none of it.
-Isaiah 30:15

Perry’s always dropping some challenging stuff. I don’t have anything to add to it, just wanted to point you his way.

Now I’m going to go be obedient. :)


No Mistakes

Sometimes I feel so jacked up. I mean there are times when I look at my life and wonder why God ever spoke my name. Then I wonder why He ever allowed me to claim His name. How could He ever want me to be labeled Christian? Sometimes I feel like it would be better for everyone involved if I just walked away. Mainly, I feel like it would be better for the name of Jesus if I wasn’t associated with Him.

When I think about that, I remember that it was Him who drew me in the first place (John 6:44). He doesn’t make mistakes, no matter how much I feel like one.

By the way, you aren’t a mistake either.

Unfortunately, it’s not really popular to be honest about stuff like this in most Christian communities. I hope some transparency will create some conversations that should have been happening a long time ago.

What do you think?


Louder Than Words

I’m reminded of the importance of character more often than I ever wished. One of those instances was yesterday when I found out about the moral failure of someone whose ministry I had been following for quite some time. I won’t be dropping the name because I don’t want to add to the gossip. I will, however, be praying for their restoration.

A few months ago, I started reading Louder Than Words by Andy Stanley. I never finished it. It’s amazing how little importance we place on who we are behind closed doors when it comes to keeping up appearances outside of those doors. I’ll be picking the book back up today in an effort to refocus.

If you spend all your time building the outside, the lack of support inside will cause everything to fall.

On a side note, it’s funny how God reaffirms things. Right when I sat down to start writing this, David Platt tweeted this:

Mt. 4:1-17 – The purity of our lives is more important than the success of our ministries.

Wow.


Psalm 150

I thought about this Psalm the other day when I finished my last final of the summer semesters. Then I thought about it again today when I found out that I made A’s in all four of my classes this summer. Praise the Lord, because I’m not nearly good enough to have done that on my own.

1 Praise the LORD.
Praise God in his sanctuary; 
praise him in his mighty heavens.

2 Praise him for his acts of power; 
praise him for his surpassing greatness.

3 Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, 
praise him with the harp and lyre,

4 praise him with tambourine and dancing, 
praise him with the strings and flute,

5 praise him with the clash of cymbals, 
praise him with resounding cymbals.

6 Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. 
Praise the LORD.

-Psalm 150

How’s Your Bait?

Whitney and I went fishing today. It was the first time I had been fishing in quite a while. She caught three fish and I finally managed to drag in one too.

Let’s be honest here. I was just glad to catch one. I’m not much of a fisherman which would have been obvious to anyone were they to notice that I only brought a handful of baits. That’s also proof that my expectations weren’t very high.

About an hour into the trip I had had quite a few bites but I was never able to actually hook one. I finally realized my problem. My bait was too big! The only fish that were biting were six inches long at best and they just couldn’t handle the bait I was throwing out there. I didn’t have anything smaller so the rest of the day I just kept throwing that bait out there knowing it was too big and hoping one would finally come along who could get ahold of it.

It got me to thinking.

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” – Matthew 4:19 (NIV)

How many times in our spiritual arrogance do we talk to people who aren’t believers in and followers of Jesus about deep doctrinal issues thinking that they’ll be impressed by how much we know and will then want to become a Christian?

We strap something else to the Gospel that might make it hard to swallow.

We strap something (like knowledge or works) to grace and by doing so we remove the true identity of this undeserved favor.

Chances are they’ll be a lot more impressed if they see Jesus in us. After all, what’s more impressive than what He has done?

They need to see someone who dies for those who rejected Him.

They need Jesus. Not whatever we want to strap to Him because of our insecurity.

So, how’s your bait? Mine needs trimming.

The Road

Sometimes life leads you to a choice. The poem “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost comes to mind. Those famous few lines everyone seems to remember:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

I stood there at the proverbial fork in the road for a long time. Toying with which path to take. Counting the cost of each. And then, after all my contemplation and with seemingly little more assuredness than the day I first came to the fork, I chose.

I wondered, “Did I make the right choice?”

I had left so much behind at that fork in the road and it seemed the farther I walked down this new road the more I cast all things familiar to the side. Often I missed these things.

Again, “Did I make the right choice?”

I looked back and saw friends who were still there trying to decide or had taken a the other road. People I loved. Holding on to the things I once loved but had now let go.

“Did I make the right choice?”

The farther down the road I walked, the more I realized how solid it was. It is a good road. Farther still and I realized the things I had missed were more than replaced by things I would never have to give up. Wonderful things. Eternal things.

“Yes.”

With each step my love for the road and the things it offered grew as my love for things of the past dwindled. Yet, my love for the people at the fork and on the other road did not dwindle. It grew. There was an aching desire for them to also take this road.

“It’s the right choice.”

I realize now that I didn’t really choose the road. The Road chose me.

He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created. – James 1:18

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. – Matthew 7:13-14



Two Different Days

There is absolutely no feeling like the one at the end of a day like today.

There are so many of my days where it seems I look back and feel like I messed up so many things. Those days I don’t like to think much about what I’d say to God when I handed the day He gave me back to Him. The words “I’m sorry” seem to be all I can muster some days. Those days I’m thankful for His mercy and grace because it means I don’t have to be good enough to please Him.

Then there are days like today. Today was a good day. At the end of today I was happy to hand my day back to God. It’s similar to how it feels when you’ve found that perfect gift for someone and you just can’t wait to give it to them. I feel like when I hand those days to God I can say, “I did everything I knew to do for You with this.” Those days I’m thankful for His mercy and grace because I know I’m not good enough to have a day like that without Him.

His grace is enough. For our good days and our bad days.


Sometimes…


Sometimes I feel overwhelmed.

Sometime I feel discouraged.

Sometimes I feel tired.

Sometimes I feel unappreciated.

Sometimes I feel like giving up.

Then I remember…

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.” -Hebrews 4:15

He’s worth it.


Window to the Soul?

I’m sure like me you’ve heard this saying:

“The eyes are the window to the soul.”

Now I don’t know who said it first and quite frankly don’t care. There’s been some effort to try to link it to some biblical passages but I think most of those are a bit of a stretch. Regardless of the saying’s origin, it came to mind today as I was walking across campus.

I have a tendency like many people to be so wrapped up in what I’m doing that I walk through crowds of people almost as if they don’t exist. I don’t acknowledge them, they don’t acknowledge me and we’re both good with that lack of relationship. Then it happens…eye contact. At that point, there’s no denying each other’s existence. It’s often somewhat uncomfortable for a variety of reasons. I just want to hit on one. The one that I was reminded of today.

There’s this idea that you can’t escape if you’re a follower of Jesus. It’s simple yet profound and Jesus spoke about it quite often. I think it’s best summed up in this way:

Everybody lives forever somewhere.

Everyone. Every set of eyes. Every person will spend eternity in one place or another. Again, a core belief as a Christian is that there’s only two choices: heaven or hell. Some people don’t like that. But that doesn’t make it any less true.

Maybe the eyes aren’t the window to the soul, but one thing is true for me and I think you’ll find it true as well. When I look into the eyes of someone and really SEE them I can’t deny that somewhere behind those eyes is a soul that will live forever.

Fix your eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2) and you’ll find that you look into the eyes of others differently.

Have any of you experienced this?