Pray. Lord show me Yourself in these pages. Show me how my life can make changes for Your kingdom, Your glory, Your love, Your light in this darkness. Amen.
Read. “I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me. But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you. (John 16:1-4 ESV)
Write. Are there individuals among us who we metaphorically killing that are speaking the name of Jesus? Are we thinking we’re “offering sacrifices to God” by silencing voices in our Christian culture that speak against tradition etc, that could really instead be speaking the words of Jesus to us?
Do. Lord make me more aware of your voices in the margins of life. Speak to me in all things.
“Either there is a God, or there isn’t. Both possibilities are frightening. If there is a God, we better find out who He is and find out what He wants and do what He says. If there is no God, we’re in trouble- we’re hurdling through space around the Sun right now at 66,000 miles an hour, and nobody’s in charge of it.”—Russian Astronomer (via writingwrong)
“Christ will never be cool. Terrifying, life-changing, shocking, and iconoclastic, but never cool. Jesus is not my homeboy. The Gospel will always be relevant but never trendy.”—Jon Foreman (via thywordistruth)
Where: In My Car Outside The Bulk Mail Post Office In Lynchburg, Virginia Coffee: French Press Christmas Roast From Stoney Brook Roasters In Ohio. Listening To: Aaron Ivey: Hallelujah What A Savior, I Am Empire: Kings & Hillsong UNITED: A_Cross // the_EARTH: Tear Down The Walls
Pray. My Father and my King, to You alone I cry out this morning. I’m so thankful for Your constant and faithful love for me. I’m seeking You here this morning, please come and find me. I’m calling out to Your heart, please come and answer me. As I spend time in Your word today let it pierce my soul. Let me always with every new day become more and more like Your Son, Jesus. Amen.
Read. “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’
“But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.
(John 15:18-27 ESV)
Write. Am I hated by the world? Hated like they hated Jesus?
Do people know my by my love for Jesus? How far does this go? Should I strive to be hated by the world or loved by the world?
I should be hated by my radical love. So am I?
Are you know by the world because of your radical love for Jesus? What is your life known for? Do my neighbors know I love Jesus? The people in my neighborhood? My HOA president? Do the students in my neighborhood know I’m a youth pastor? Am I only outspoken for Jesus on my blog? Am I more open about my faith on social media than in social community?
Do. Get to know the people in my community. Get to know the people in my neighborhood. Get known because of my love for Jesus.
That's awesome! I spend time up at LU every so often because two of my cousins go there... And by the way, I love reading your think/read/listen/do/(whatever the other thing is ha) inspired posts! I have struggled for a long time now on how to stay focused during Bible study so I have adopted your method and it's made such a difference. Anyways, God bless you & your wife & your ministry!
Awesome! Swing by and say hello sometime you’re up! Glad that Pray. Read. Think. Write. Do. has helped you out. It’s really revitalized my bible study as well.
Pray. Lord, I feel unrest in my spirit. I feel as though You are raising a holy discontent in my soul for the world around me and the state of modern Christianity. Lord help me to be love and not cynicism. Help me to be hope and not hatred. Help me to be light and not darkness. Make my heartbeat as Yours. Amen.
Read. “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.
(John 15:1-17 ESV)
Write. There are a couple of different individuals in this passage: Jesus = The Vine God, the Father = The Vinedress Christ Followers = Branches
I have lots of questions right off the bat with this passage. The obvious devotional aspect is that we are to “abide” in Jesus. There are 11 mentions of the word “abide” in the passage.
Abide in me and I in you Abides in the vine Abide in me and I in him Abide in me Abide in me Abide in you Abide in my love Abide in my love Abide in His love … that your fruit should abide,
There’s lots of “abiding” happening here. Here’s a closer look at the word:
To abide in Christ would mean to act in accordance with Christ. This makes sense considering how many times Jesus teaches us to “do as I do” or follow His example. To abide in his love would be to live in accordance with His love. To exemplify His love in our love. This is made more clear in verses 12 & 13 “This is my commandement, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”
Jesus reminds us that if we if we abide in Him and His words abide in us than “whatever we wish will be done for us”. In other words He blesses those who follow Him.
As always I strive to be open and honest with you. I don’t have all the answers and I don’t pretend to. I’m ok not having all the answers. I’m open to discussion.
My questions begin to arise early in the section concerning God the Father as the Vinedresser. “Every branch in me that does not bear fruit He takes away.” I have questions: How can someone be a branch of the vine and not bear fruit? Who are the branches that are “in me” in Christ but taken away because of not bearing fruit? Are they Christians that the Father is removing from the vine? We know from John 10 that nothing can separate us from the love of God… so what is this taking away process? Are these people who falsely believe they are Christ-followers of those who claim to be but are not? Can anyone help me shed some light on this issue?
As I look at the life of Jesus and the early Christians the more I’m convinced that modern Christianity is not what Jesus had in mind. Christianity was never meant to be comfortable. Jesus doesn’t call us to comfy chairs. He calls us to confront the world. Not to condemn the world, but to confront it with a better life. To confront light with darkness. To confront hate with love. Is modern Christianity an example of the branches taken away by the Father?
Do. Our response? Dig deeper into what we don’t understand. Don’t be content with surface level theology. Abide in Christ. Live in His love and live from His love sharing His love to all He loves.
“We must recognize the power of the ‘ought.’ It’s the power to change the world! We can’t just see the world in terms of how it is today, or we will always feel defeated. But when we see the world in terms of how things ought to be, we can dream for the impossible - and work to see it become reality.”—Ambassador Max Kampelman
The Next Christians by Gabe Lyons is an honest look at Christianity and it’s place within modern cand ulture society. It examines it’s past and points to it’s future with the rise of a new generation of believers Lyons calls “The Next Christians”. This is a generation that for the most part doesn’t want to be called Christian. It’s not out of a rejection of Jesus that they say this. The Next Christians are not ashamed of Jesus. They are ashamed of what Christianity has become. They are ashamed of the baggage that it brings. They view “Christianity”, in it’s current form as more of a brand than a relationship with Jesus. They want nothing to do with brands. They want Jesus.
For quite some time now I’ve been reading the gospel of John. As I read the words of Jesus and look deeper into how He teaches us to live… I see less and less of modern Christianity. I’ve blogged and written much about this in previous posts. The Next Christians by Gabe Lyons is a refreshing look into this new generation who has had enough of dragging Jesus through the dirt. They are a generation seeking His face and His face alone.
Gabe Lyons, like me, is a graduate of Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA. He went to high school at the school started by Thomas Road Baptist Church, the church where I now pastor on the middle school staff. This is a culture in which it’s easy to become part of the “Christian” culture. It’s easy to be comfortable around loads of other Christians. It’s easy to have zero idea of the world around you in an area like this. Gabe wasn’t content with that. He wanted to follow Jesus. Not the culture, Jesus.
Lyons cites the “death of Christian America” as a falling on May 15, 2007. The day Jerry Falwell, the pastor/founder of Thomas Road Baptist Church/Liberty University/The Moral Majority, died. I remember that day clearly. I had been on staff since December of 2006. I was just out of college and had many opportunities to interact with Dr. Falwell, or “Doc”, as we called him around the church. It was a dark day indeed. Lyons cites this day as “emblematic of a passing era”.
The era arising is one where pluralism and post modernism lead way to a larger post-Christian nation in which the general populous is spiritual and seeking God, yet the god they seek on a given day can change based on their needs. The Next Christians see this is an opportunity to show the love of Christ. The see opportunity in the midst of a nation slipping away from the God who loves it so.
The Next Christians follows this generation’s characteristics. It looks at the life of Jesus and finds this generation trying more than ever to be the light of Jesus and to share the gospel with so much more than words. They are our brightest hope we have for restoration.
This video segment is from a talk Gabe Lyons gave at the leadership conference, Catalyst, in 2010 on The NEXT Christians. Enjoy.
I received this copy of THE NEXT CHRISTIANS by Gabe Lyons for free from Waterbrook Multnomah Press’ Blogging For Books Program in exchange for a fair and honest review.
The next Christians believe that Christ’s death and Resurrection were not only meant to save people from something. He wanted to save Christians to something. God longs to restore his image in them, and let them loose, freeing them to pursue his original dreams for the entire world. Here, now, today, tomorrow. They no longer feel bound to wait for heaven or spend all of their time telling people what they should believe. Instead they are participating with God in his restoration project for the whole world.
They recognize that Christ’s redemptive work is not the ned or even the goal of our stories; redemption is the beginning of our participation in God’s work of restoration in our lives and in the world. Understanding that one idea literally changes everything.
Pray. Lord Jesus You have called me to live a better life. A life that is more than this simple earth. You have called me to love as You love and live as You lived sharing You with all those around me. Lord, I’m reading some of Your last words to Your disciples before You gave Your life for me. I pray You would give me ears to hear You as they heard You in that room. Speak to my heart now. In Your name. Amen.
Read. “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.
“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.
“These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe. I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.
(John 14 ESV)
Write. I keep reading over this passage and much of what Jesus says seems to come from a concerned heart. It follows questions from those who had been so close to Him for this whole time. It follows questions they should know the answers to. I’ve read this passage many times and have sat forever thankful that Jesus shows us a better Way to live life in Him. I’m thankful that He shows us where Truth can be found and that Life is made new in Him. I love the passages where He speaks of His relationship with the Father, that they are one.
The thing that caught me off guard this time through is that His disciple are still not quiet getting it.
Do I get it?
I mean if I don’t get it how can I follow His commandments? In verse 21, Jesus says that “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who love me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and minfest myself to him.”
So much love. Love of Jesus. One who keeps His commandments is one who loves Him. Do I keep His commandments?
Do. Keep His commandments. Live a life of love to all around me.
An Atheist Professor Of Philosophy Was Speaking To His Class On The Problem Science Has With God. He Asked One Of His New Christian Students To Stand:
Professor:You are a Christian, aren’t you, son?
Professor:So, you believe in God?
Professor:Is God good?
Professor:My brother died of cancer, even though he prayed to God to heal him. Most of us would attempt to help others who are ill. But God didn’t. How is God good, then? Hmm?
(Student was silent)
Professor:You can’t answer, can you? Let’s start again, young fella. Is God good?
Professor:Is Satan good?
Professor:Where does Satan come from?
Professor:That’s right. Tell me son, is there evil in this world?
Professor:Evil is everywhere, isn’t it? And God did make everything. Correct?
Professor:So who created evil?
(Student didn’t answer)
Professor:Is there sickness? Immortality? Hatred? Ugliness? All these terrible things exist in the world, don’t they?
Professor:So, who created them?
(Student had no answer)
Professor:Science says you have 5 senses you use to identify and observe the world around you. Tell me, son.. have you ever seen God?
Professor:Tell us if you have ever heard your God.
Professor:Have you ever felt your God, tasted your God, smelt your God? Have you ever had any sensory perception of God, for that matter?
Student:No, sir. I’m afraid I haven’t.
Professor:Yet you still believe in Him?
Professor:According to empirical, testable, demonstrable protocol, Science says your God doesn’t exist. What do you say to that, son?
Student:Nothing. I only have my Faith.
Professor:Yes, Faith. And that is the problem Science has.
Student:Professor, is there such a thing as Heat?
Student:And is there such a thing as Cold?
Student:No, sir, there isn’t.
(The Lecture Theatre became very quiet with this turn of events)
Student:Sir, you can have lots of heat, even more heat, superheat, mega heat, white heat, a little heat or no heat. But we don’t have anything called cold. We can hit 458 Degrees below Zero which is no heat, but we can’t go any further after that. There is no such thing as cold. Cold is only a word we use to describe the absence of Heat. We cannot measure cold. Heat is energy. Cold is not the opposite of heat, sir, just the absence of it.
(There was a pon-drop silence in the Lecture Theatre)
Student:What about darkness, Professor? Is there such a thing as darkness?
Professor:Yes. What is night if there isn’t darkness?
Student:You’re wrong again, sir. Darkness is the absence of something. You can have Low Light, Normal Light, Bright Light, Flashing Light… But if you have No Light constantly, you have nothing and it’s called Darkness, isn’t it? In reality, darkness isn’t. If it is, You would be able to make darkness darker, wouldn’t you?
Professor:So what is the point you are making, young man?
Student:Sir, my point is, your Philosophical Premise is flawed.
Professor:Flawed? Can you explain how?
Student:Sir, you are working on the Premise of Duality. You argue there is Life and then there is Death, a good God and a bad God. You are viewing the concept of God as something finite, something we can measure. Sir, Science can’t even explain a thought. It uses electricity and magnetism, but has never seen, much less fully understood either one. To view death as the opposite of life is to be ignorant of the fact that death cannot exist as a substantive thing. Death is not the opposite of life, just the absence of it. Now tell me, Professor, do you teach your students that they evolved from a monkey?
Professor:If you are referring to the Natural Evolutionary Process, yes of course, I do.
Student:Have you ever observed Evolution with your own eyes, sir?
(The professor shook his head with a smile, beginning to realize where the argument was going)
Student:Since no one has ever observed the Process of Evolution at work and cannot even prove that this process is an on-going endeavor, are you not teaching your opinion, sir? Are you not a Scientist but a Preacher?
(The class was in uproar)
Student:Is there anyone in the class who has ever seen the Professor’s brain?
(The class broke out into laughter)
Student:Is there anyone here who has ever heard the Professor’s brain, felt it, touched or smelt it? .. No one appears to have done so. So, according to the established Rules of Empirical, Stable and Demonstrable Protocol, Science says that you have no brain, sir. With all due respect, sir, how do we then trust your lectures?
(The room was silent. The Professor stared at the student, his face unfathomable)
Professor:I guess you’ll have to take them on Faith, son.
Student:That is it, sir.. exactly! The link between man and God is Faith. That is all that keeps things alive and moving!
“Love chooses to believe the best about people. It gives them the benefit of the doubt. It refuses to fill in the unknowns with negative assumptions. And when our worst hopes are proven to be true, love makes every effort to deal with them and move forward. As much as possible love focuses on the positive.”—Stephen & Alex Kendrick
Where: My Kitchen Table. Lynchburg, VA. Coffee: Home Brewed Eight O’ Clock Decaf Arabica Coffee French Press w/ Honey And A Splash Of Skim Milk Listening To: Boyce Avenue: New Acoustic Sessions
Pray. Lord speak to me as I read Your word. I’m so thankful for the time of worship this morning in PowerSource with our students and leaders. I pray that our students connected with You in a real way. I worship You now through Your word. I love You, Jesus. Amen.
Read. Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.” Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.
(John 13:36-38 ESV)
Write. I wonder with what type of intensity this conversation actually went down. When I read the text I hear Jesus speaking in this accusatory and broken tone. It’s as if He’s already been stabbed in the back by one of His closest friends. We know he’s just walked Judas walk out of the room to betray Him, yet here something seems to strike deeper. Peter is known for speaking before thinking and Jesus is known for calling people on the carpet when they’re thrown crap out of their mouths. I imagine it going down something like this:
Jesus: I’m going away for a while. You can’t come just yet, but you will come. Peter: What the heck Jesus? Why can’t we follow You? We’ve been following You around all this time. I would die for You. Jesus: Really Peter? You’d die for me? I know your heart. I know what will happen in the next few hours. Before morning you will lie to others saying you never knew me. Not just once my friend, three times. So really Peter? You’d die for me?
It just seems like this giant ball of awkward “Oh No He Didn’t!”. I started thinking about how often I tell Jesus one thing and if I’m honest don’t mean it at all. I mean think about how many times we say/sing things like, “I Love You, Jesus.” Do we really mean it when we say/sing it? How about when we pray? Are we actually praying things that are true to our hearts or are we just regurgitating things we’ve heard our whole lives?
Sometimes we’re all Peter. Looking Jesus in the face saying one thing and our hearts are totally lying. Lord teach us to be honest.
Do. This is a heart check. When’s the last time you said “I love you.” to Jesus and actually meant it with every fiber of your being?