Discipleship and the Planet Pluto

There has been a lot in the news lately about the historic NASA mission of the New Horizon’s spacecraft to visit the planet Pluto. This grand piano sized satellite traveled faster than any other earth space craft at a speed of 30,800 miles per hour. At that fastest speed of any known space craft it still took New horizons 9.5 years to cover the 9 billion miles to the dwarf planet. The radio signal from New Horizons to earth to let us know that it had arrived and was functioning took 4 hours and 25 minutes to make the trip of 9 billion miles, and that signal was traveling at the speed of light.

Why all the statistics? Well, besides being a Jesus follower, I also am a nerd [and I mean that with all affection and positiveness.] It’s fascinating to me the amount of time, energy, money, and hard work that it took to achieve this historic achievement.

Something like this doesn’t happen over night. It takes serious commitment and time. To travel through space, endure extreme cold, and radiation, takes careful planning and resoluteness.

Nine and a half years, think about that. What are you committed to for nine and half years? Once New Horizons was launched and began it’s journey there was no turning back. There were all kinds of obstacles and deterrents, but the commitment to go was one way.

This mission to Pluto has brought to the surface, once again the discussion about colonizing the planet Mars. With our best technology and planning and commitment, it is said that if it can happen, those that go, are going with the knowledge that it is a one way trip. If they reach Mars, if they are able to build a sustainable living on Mars, there is no coming back. The technology simply doesn’t exist to get them back to earth. It is a lifetime commitment. Once they lift off, the world behind them, there is no turning back. It will be a one way trip into the unknown.

This led me to reflect on our discipleship journey. Following Jesus is all about commitment. Yet it seems that many in the post modern church have made commitment a dirty word. Why do we think that following Jesus is any less of a commitment than what it takes to build a space craft to travel nine billion miles? Why do we think that discipleship is a journey, in which we have all kinds of options, that our opinion is important, that we chose if it is convenient, and give attention to if we have nothing better to do?
Where do we see Jesus invite his disciples to focus on him for one hour a week and then spend the rest of the week critiquing whether they felt entertained, energized, equipped, and enabled to go about doing what they want to do the rest of the week?
In fact we see the exact opposite:
Matthew 16:24 “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
Matthew 7:13-14 “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.”
Luke 14:33 “In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.”
Matthew 22:37-39 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Our Jesus is looking for people who are all in.

Our Jesus is looking for people who are all in. Our Jesus is calling people to give their all. Our Jesus expects 100% of us 100% of the time. Our Jesus is presuming commitment.
In a conversation that I with a disciple this week, we were sharing our ideas about trusting in Jesus rather than fighting for control in our lives. We ended our time by encouraging one another and reminding one another that there is a reason that most of the time the commitment to journey with Jesus is called the “practice of discipleship.” The mistakes, not withstanding, do not weaken our commitment on the journey to be more like Jesus today than we were yesterday.

Hillsong produced a song back in 2013 entitled “Christ is Enough” that uses the lyrics from an old hymn. “I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back. The world behind me, the cross before me, no turning back, no turning back.” Video for Christ Is Enough by Hill Song

We all need to be encouraged/challenged in our discipleship. I have decided to follow Jesus. The world behind us, the cross [dying to self] before us. No turning back, no turning back!

Suggested Dusty Discipleship practices…

1. Do a spiritual inventory, how is your commitment level to Jesus? Is there anything you are not doing that you should be doing?
2. Click the link above and listen to the song, Christ Is Enough, and talk with Jesus, reaffirm to Him that he is your reward and all that you will ever need.
3. Challenge “convenience” thinking in your life. Listen for the voice of the Holy Spirit in your life that commands your commitment and obedience.

As always, I look forward to journeying with you, as we are covered in the dust of our Rabbi, Jesus!

Discipleship and Trust = Submitting My Rights

The Kingdom of Jesus is the exact opposite of the way our world operates today.

In addition to the traditional pro-life, pro-choice battle, increasingly polarized opinions keep popping up. Homosexual vs. Straight. Left vs. Right. Pro Gun vs. Anti Gun. Black vs. Hispanic vs. White vs. Asian vs. fill-in-the-blank., Pro-smoking vs. Anti-smoking, Pro Law enforcement vs. Anti Law enforcement. We have been fed a steady diet of polarizing views to entertain and sell advertising dollars and garner viewers. Each side presents their case/cause as the only correct way and paints a portrait of the opposing view as the depiction of evil.

This is not new. The voices are just louder through the voice of the media, internet, Facebook, Instagram and even blogs. At the heart of all of this is the idea that I must assert my opinion over your opinion, because I, necessarily know what is right/best for me. My assumption, of my rightness, does not stop here. Because I assume it is right for me, it should be right for you, and you should see that. We have come a long way or digressed, from the pluralism that ruled the thinking of the 60’s-90’s.

This me-first attitude goes all the way back to the garden of Eden, with Satan’s temptation of Eve that God was holding out on her and Adam, and did not want them to know what God knew. [See Genesis 3:4-5]

Who do we trust more? Ourselves or our Creator?

At that point in time Adam and Eve made a decision that all humanity would struggle with for the rest of existence. Who do we trust more? Ourselves or our Creator?

So look at Matthew 5:39-42, where Jesus says, “But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”

Here is the trust factor. Our Jesus said it. Are we willing to trust Him enough to do it? Every message we see from the world encourages us to strike back, seek revenge, hire a lawyer, sue, hold on to what we have tightly, and do the bare minimum that we are required to do, because those requiring us do not have our best interests in mind.

In the Kingdom of Jesus, the only excuse for holding tightly is holding on to Jesus, trusting in Him and obeying Him. People act like God’s sovereignty is up for debate. God will accomplish His kingdom. We have been invited to play a part in that kingdom. Our part is to concenter* the power of God in a display of our obedience. When we give up our right so that what Jesus said we should do, gets done the world sits up and takes notice. Labels are strewn around; crazy, lunatic, ineffective. From the mind that thinks like the rest of the world, they would be right. From the heart of the Gospel, we are only doing what we ought to have done. [See Luke 17:10]

God is not looking for mindless automatons that blindly follow. Rather, God sent His Son, so that we would have a relationship. In the context of that relationship, I would willingly submit what I want for doing what Jesus wants, in spite of what the world tells me is in my best interest.

That is a synopsis of my life’s calling – to journey with others as we grow dusty in this life-giving, life-transforming power of a relationship with Jesus characterized by submitting my will for Jesus Kingdom.

*Concenter definition – the act of bringing together something around a common center, place or concept.

In It, Not Of It – Living Out Our Discipleship

There have been tons of head lines about the Supreme Court decision on same sex marriage.
Most headlines are designed to grab attention, to get you to click on a link.
The majority of what is written is designed to divide and polarize.
I’ve clicked on a few links, and read a lot of headlines, the preponderance of which lead me to believe that most have an agenda, and few to none have a realistic view of both sides of the debate.
So I will jump into the fray and add one more headline, but mine is on behalf of my Jesus.

A popular contemporary Christian group from a number of years ago was a group by the name of Avalon. One of their songs always stuck with me. It was like the Spirit of God grabbed my head and heart and said, “Listen to this!” The song is entitled, “In not of.” Here are some of the lyrics:
“Come take the Light to darker parts,
Share His truth with hardened hearts,
We are not like the world, but we can love it.
Come bring the hope to hopeless men,
Until the lost are found in Him,
He came to save the world so let us be. . ., In it, not of it.”

Now I am not inferring from this song that people of the conservative nature of Christianity are the “Light” and the rest are the “darker parts.” Hang with me here… at the core of the Gospel of Jesus is the central truth that our world is broken and Jesus is the answer to that brokenness. If you want to argue the “brokenness” of our world, as in our world is not broken, my friend you have been living in a bubble.
Given this “core” nature of the Gospel, many Christians find themselves aligning themselves into “like” camps of people who think, act, and believe like they themselves do. But from where I sit, that is akin to lighting a lamp and hiding it under a basket.

To these folks, seeking refuge in the ‘like” camps, I have this challenge. Many say your “like” camps are about preserving the truth, remaining true to the faith, but I ask is it really about the truth, or just about comfort? Far too many people from this camp-simply want to avoid the potential of conflict that their differing opinion can cause, so they hide out with like minded people, so they don’t have to enter the struggle. They do not build deep, abiding, Jesus style relationships with anyone who does not already think/act/believe like their pseudo classic exemplar of Jesus.

I would like to distinguish between this archetypal “Christian” and a Jesus follower. Jesus followers, like the song by Avalon points out, realize as they are in the Word, that they do not have the option of veiling their lives from the world; for Jesus came to save the world [if this is a problem, one might want to check out John 3:16-17.]

“What if, rather than introducing others to Jesus, we built a relationship with them and allowed them to meet Jesus in us. The challenge of course is that we have to have a relationship with Jesus that shows we know Jesus and follow Jesus.”

Another Jesus follower, Erwin McManus writes this: “From the moment we become citizens of the kingdom of God, we become aliens and strangers in a world that chooses to live absent of God. From the first step taken to follow Jesus, we are out of step with the rest of the world. Once your life is in sync with the story of God, you become out of sync with any story that attempts to ignore or eliminate God. You are a stranger to them, an alien among them, a nomadic wanderer who, while refusing to be rooted in this life, seems to some-how enjoy this life most.” That is what a Jesus follower does. We are in the world but not of it.

Jesus followers know death does not have the final say. We live not tied to a material world, because we know that what we have is not add value to who we are. We know we are loved beyond compare despite what others say. We are chosen, instead of being marginalized. We are friends in on what our Lord is up to. We are children of the most High King.

A Jesus follower loves our King and loves the world which is deeply loved by our King, so much so that He was willing to fight for it, by laying down His life. Why are so many people worried about defining what we are agains? Jesus followers live by the stamp of grace upon our lives by which we are marked. Jesus followers build relationships with people who as McManus says, attempt to “ignore” God. Why? Because they matter to our King, and we are willing to fight for what matters to our king, despite how it messes with our comfort level.

I love McManus’ last line, “…refusing to be rooted in this life, [Jesus followers] seem to some-how enjoy this life most.”

In our effort to be covered in the dust of our Rabbi, Jesus, strive to be in the “fight” of this world, but fight not for doctrine, dogma, position, rightness, but for the hearts and minds of people, for whom the heart of our God, beats. Build some relationships holding on to our Jesus, who held on to God, and fought after and died for what the Heavenly King loves.