Friday, August 28, 2015

lay down your burdens

I think we all live with the burden of trying to prove to ourselves and our world that we are worth loving.  Or at least I know I do.  It is a little different, I suppose, for guys and girls, but we all live with a gnawing sense that we are just not enough.  A wise man once said that the deepest question of every man's heart is "Do I have what it takes?"  And the deepest question of every woman's heart is "Am I worth being pursued?"  I can't speak for the ladies, but I can say that his description of a man's heart is dead on.  Thus, for us guys anyway, it is very easy to measure the answer to that question by how well we perform (scores, records, achievements, accomplishments, comparisons, stats, measurements, bank accounts, etc.); and to think that our value is determined by what we do--and particularly how well we do it.  It is an extraordinarily heavy burden to bear.

But actually, nothing could be further from the truth.  Our value as a human being (mine and yours) does not depend on how good of a golfer, or a businessman, or a minister, or a Young Life leader we are--or how good of an anything we are for that matter--but is determined by the One who made us and loves us dearly.

In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

Come to me and let me be the One that determines your value and your worth.  Do not carry that burden alone, it will wear you out.  Your worth and your value cannot be determined by what you do, or what you achieve, but only by the value given to you by me--the One who made you and loves you.

Jesus longs for us to come.  He longs for us to join (yoke) ourselves to him, to lay down our burdens, and to let him be the one that shows us how incredibly valuable and loved we really are.

Thanks be to God!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

rejoice

The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!”  And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.  Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you.  Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:17-20)



The Jesus works and the Jesus words performed and preached and taught by the seventy-two have Jesus results.  The seventy-two are absolutely astonished at what takes place among the Samaritans--"surprised by joy."  This is heady stuff.  Jesus confirms their excitement: He "sees Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning," joins them in rejoicing "in the Holy Spirit," and thanks the "Father, Lord of heaven and earth" for the harvest.  "Rejoice" (agalliao), the verb that powers Jesus' confirming words, conveys an exuberance we see expressed in dance and cartwheels.  And in Samaria of all places!
     But he also introduces a word of caution: "Do not rejoice at this, that spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven" (Luke 10:20).  There is danger that we will become overly excited at what we see going on around us and neglect the center, our heaven-inscribed identities, out of which the work develops.  Not what we do, but who we are "in heaven," anchors the joy. (Tell It Slant by Eugene Peterson)


A great reminder as we begin a new year of ministry, from the very lips of Jesus himself.  May the work we do never take precedence in our hearts over who we are in Christ.  Rejoice not in what you do, rather rejoice in whose you are.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

dancing to his rhythm

Well, it's that time of year again.  The time of year when school starts back and the pace and the activity level seems to pick up once again.  There is simply something energizing about this time of year, although it has occurred to me that, sadly, we keep shaving days and weeks off of the summer--much to our detriment, I might add--but that's a subject for a whole different set of posts altogether.

Anyway, since it is the time of year when we begin to pick up the pace a little bit, I've been thinking about the implications of that increase on our lives and our ministries.  It is easy to get swept away by activity if we don't see it and anticipate it and begin to adjust our spiritual rhythms accordingly.  The reason for that is that the quality of our lives and our ministries is always determined by the quality of our inner lives with Jesus.  Ministry, in order to have the power and the authenticity God longs for it to have, must be organic.  It can't be manufactured.  In other words, it must come from a place of living reality within us.  In order for ministry to be organic it must come from something growing deep inside.  And for something to be growing deep inside, we must be consistently making time and space for God to be planting something deep inside.  Apart from that work of God in us, there will likely not be the work of God through us that he really desires there to be.  Unless we are consistently encountering Jesus in a way that is transforming us, how can we ever hope to have anything of value to offer those to whom God is sending us? 

So it might be a good idea to spend some time in the next week or so asking Jesus what he wants our lives with him to look like over the next several months, and adjusting accordingly; walking at his pace and dancing to his rhythm rather than dashing and thrashing madly around to our own.  May his peace be with you.