The Hard Stuff is the Only Stuff Worth Doing…

On Sunday we’re wrapping up our series on becoming an apprentice of Jesus. We’re going to look at one last key part of following Jesus that changes lives, deepens your life dramatically and connects you to Jesus like nothing else. So I’m really excited about Sunday.

But I’m also nervous…

Because the truth is that following Jesus isn’t easy. Following Jesus has never been easy. It is simple: trust Jesus, love others, forgive enemies, give generously, and put others first. Simple things…but not easy things to live out. And so on Sunday we are going to look at the simplest and most basic part of following Jesus…unfortunately it also happens to be the hardest to follow…

But sometimes the hardest things are often the most life-giving things.

Maybe you’ve had this experience. Maybe you’ve decided to actually forgive someone, not the type of forgiving that doesn’t matter, but the forgiveness that is…work. Maybe you’ve actually simplified your life so that you can give more. Maybe you’ve given your time and life for others knowing that hurt and abuse can happen. If you’ve ever done anything like this then I think you’ll know what I mean when I say the hard things are the only things worth doing. The fact that they are hard is what makes them so worthwhile. The irony is that following in the tough stuff leads to more freedom and joy. Resisting Jesus’ leading simply leads to a dead end. Mother Theresa once said, “Whenever I see someone sad…I think that they are refusing Jesus something”. So on Sunday we are going to be looking at what Jesus is really asking of us. We are going to seek not to refuse anything to him, but to honestly ask him, “What would you have me do?”

My guess is that’s a pretty good question for today too. Why not ask him today, “what would you have me do?” Let it be a wide open question, one that you’re willing to follow. Because the opposite of what Mother Theresa said is also true. Whenever I see someone fully content, at peace and connected, I think they must be refusing Jesus nothing…

Learning from Leviticus

On Sunday we are looking at one of my favorite books. Leviticus. My guess is that it isn’t one of your favorite books. But on Sunday was are going to be learning something unique about God, and giving thanks. My guess is that you know how important giving thanks is. On Sunday we will discover how it can not only change your life but change your community.

But before we get there why don’t you take a moment, get a coffee or a good drink, slow down, and ask yourself what can I be thankful for? Take a moment and think of all that God has given you? At first it might not seem like a lot.  Maybe it might be tough but it is important. We all know people who seem overcome with bitterness and anger, being stuck in an unhealthy space. The way though to prevent bitterness from taking root is to give thanks.

So today slow down and give thanks and then share why you are thankful with someone else. And as we’ll see on Sunday, that’s the start of changing communities…

Sacrifice, Car Rides, and the Cross

This is Passion Week, which literally means the week of suffering. This is something we often forget as Christians. That to follow Christ means following him to the cross. That’s the hard part of following Christ. That it involves sacrifice and doing the “right thing” which is often a very hard thing to do.

Late Sunday night I was driving Hudson home from some amazing friends of ours. And it was just Hudson and I. As we were driving home well past his bedtime Hudson wanted to talk. So he asked, “Where’s Mommy?” I said, “she was with your aunt”.  He then asked, “Where’s daddy” And I said, “I’m right here with you.”  And he asked me the favorite kid question, “why?” I answered “because that’s where mommy’s and daddy’s belong right with you.” And then I promised him, “that’s where we will always be, right with you,  mommy and daddy will love you no  matter what.”

But isn’t that exactly the point of Passion Week? Promises like that are easy to say but hard to live out. Promises like that require sacrifice, but it is those promises that matter and give life. It’s promises like that that led Jesus to the cross, by him promising to be with us all the way no matter what. He was so “with us” that he took our sin, shame, and death for us. His being with us required sacrifice.

That’s the hard part of doing the right thing: it always requires sacrifice.

If I am going to be true to my promise to Hudson it will require sacrifice. It’s easy to walk with him, support him, and care for him now. But keeping that promise will be more difficult as he gets older.

But the point for us during this Passion Week is that some things are worth sacrificing for. Some people are worth sacrificing for. In fact, God shows us that all people are worth sacrificing for. That’s the story of Easter. That sacrifices may not be easy, but they are worthwhile. And God’s made one for you, because you matter to him.

So if we are following him, how can you follow his example? Who can you sacrifice yourself for because they matter?

Because while sacrifice isn’t often easy to do, it is the right thing to do…

Lent and Death

Over the past few days I’ve been reflecting more and more on death. Often during Lent I try to reflect on sacrifice, Jesus’ death, and what it all means.

It’s not something we often talk about is it?

Death isn’t a dinner party topic. Sacrifice isn’t something you share at picnics. I think that’s because its heavy, real, and difficult. But just because something is difficult, doesn’t mean it should be avoided.

So for the next few weeks of Lent every now and then I’ll post some of my thoughts on death, sacrifice, and meaning found in the dark. It might be heavy, but by going through some heavy thinking and reflecting now, it can help later.

So to begin the process maybe take some time and reflect on these questions:

  • What makes death so hard?
  • What questions about death or sacrifice do you have?
  • Why did Jesus have to die anyway?

Then over the next few weeks I’ll post some of my thoughts. But to start, what are your thoughts?

Post for Ash Wednesday

We read this in Psalms:

The LORD is full of compassion and mercy, *

slow to anger and of great kindness.

He will not always accuse us, *

nor will he keep his anger for ever.

He has not dealt with us according to our sins, *

nor rewarded us according to our wickedness.

For as the heavens are high above the earth, *

so is his mercy great upon those who fear him.

As far as the east is from the west, *

so far has he removed our sins from us.

As a father cares for his children, *

so does the LORD care for those who fear him.

For he himself knows whereof we are made; *

he remembers that we are but dust.

We are grateful that God always forgives, always loves, and always trusts. But it is still our sin that Jesus dies for.

And today begins the season of Lent, and is Ash Wednesday.  Lent is the time of the year where we reflect, repent, pause, and we decide to sacrifice something remembering the sacrifice of Jesus. Lent is a darker time that makes the brilliance of Easter all the more bright. But you have to go through the night to get to the day.

Today, Ash Wednesday, is a day where traditionally many Christians around the world get marked by ash to remember that we miss the mark, fail, and sin. We remember that as the Psalmist says, “we are but dust”. It is a day to remember to repent. To give up things in our lives for the sake of Jesus. So why not actually do that.

Would you consider joining in millions of Christians who on today will repent and remember by giving up something for Lent?

Over the years I’ve given up coffee, bitterness, and other things. The point is to sacrifice something to remember Jesus sacrifice.

So would you consider joining me and many others in Lent? In giving something up so that we find someone so valuable? Giving up so that we might remember and make this Easter more meaningful than ever before?