Category Archives: Tough Times

A Call To Discipleship

Now more than ever, the words of Jesus herald truth…“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.John 13:34-35”

The world needs disciples. What is not needed is more rhetoric, hate speech, divisive commentary, baiting of one side against another. The world needs Jesus. They way the world comes to experience Jesus is from His disciples.

Like so many, I add my voice to the fray of noise regarding the violence that we see played out in America. Senseless killing of individuals, regardless of color or ethnicity, a life lost is tragic. You may disagree, but then you may not claim the name of follower of Jesus.

Jesus chose to heal his attacker’s wounds. [And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear.
But Jesus answered, “No more of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him. Luke 22:50-51]

Jesus chose to forgive the men driving the spikes through his wrists. [Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34]

No slight, no offense, no racial profile, no name calling is worth taking another person’s life. No one has been slighted, offended, profiled, racially slurred or called names more than Jesus. His path is not protest. His path is not angry words. His path is not violence. His path is forgiveness.

Instrumental to all of this is Jesus’ relationship with His Father. The second key is that Jesus chose. He chose to love his father, obey his father, honor his father. He chose these rather than his anger, hurt feelings, slighted ego, wounded spirit, selfish motives, entitlement attitude, and perceived rights.

There are all kinds of buzz and conversations happening at lunches, around the water cooler, in the break rooms, at the back yard BBQ’s. What if Jesus’ followers started acting like Jesus-followers and offered a word of forgiveness instead of jumping on the commentary wagon? What if Jesus-followers would go out of their way to be polite, smile, offer a helping hand, concentrate on building relationships that reflect Jesus?

Our broken, hurting world needs disciples of Jesus to be disciples; “love one another as I have loved you.” — Jesus

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Discipleship is Staying Dusty in the Desert

Everyone goes through hard times-painful experiences that bring us to our knees, sometimes out of anguish, sometime out of prayer.
No one likes them. No one volunteers for them. I have told many people over many years, “We live in a fallen, sinful, broken world, a world not designed as God intended, and in that brokenness, hurt is inevitable.”
Spiritually, these times are referred to as “times in the desert.” “Wilderness” experiences. Times when we feel distant from God, or we wonder if God is even present in our affliction.
I was reminded recently, of Psalm 51:17, “A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.” In this Psalm, David, King David, is pouring out his brokenness before God, because he has followed the ways of the world, abused his power and influence, lied, committed adultery, practiced deceitfulness, and committed murder. I’d say that’s pretty broken. Pastors and Presidents lose their jobs for much less. Yet, God considers David, a man after God’s own heart [1 Samuel 13:14].
As worldly citizens, we seek wholeness, wellness, and comfort. As Kingdom citizens, brokenness, humility and servanthood are the mark. Why?
People who have dealt with brokenness can become God-reliant. They practice humility, become submissive to the will of God, and are compassionate to the needs around them, open to the wise counsel of others. They take their hands off the steering wheel and allow the work of Jesus to drive their lives.
On one of my trips to Africa, I had a dear brother, Gabozi, tell me, “I pray for you pastors in America. It is so much harder to preach the saving Gospel message there. There everyone has so much. At least here in Africa, people know that they are in need.”
I know our “instinct” is to fight hard times, to seek a way out of the desert wilderness, to grasp for control, to long for and strive to return to health and comfort.

What if we embrace the truth that Jesus is with us in our brokenness?

But consider this: Jesus is here. Jesus is present in our brokenness. Jesus is alive in our desert. As we strive to follow him and to be covered in the dust of our Rabbi, to become more like him, let us be found faithful by seeking Him above our own comfort while we “wander” in the desert wilderness times. In our difficult times, God is there, and rather than fight and strive and long for the brokenness to go away, what if we embrace the truth that Jesus is with us in our brokenness.
After all, “He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities, the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5
Our God specializes in using people that the rest of the world considers “broken” and making them into powerful examples of His Love, Grace and Mercy. How much more broken can you get than dead? Yet, our God took someone who was dead and brought Him to life for the exact purpose of defeating death. What if Jesus had refused to allow the “brokenness” of the cross to come into His life?
In ancient mythology it was the “Siren’s call” to the sailors on the ocean to abandon what was best for their ship and mates and sail onto the rocks, to their own destruction. It is ironic that on an ocean of water, the call of the world, exemplified in selfishness, leads to the desert of death for the entire crew.
In my discipleship, I also fight the call of the world to seek my own will above the will of my Rabbi. Stay in the Word, continue to worship, rest in the comfort of songs and Pslams, lean on your brothers and sisters of faith, continue to pray, seek solitude and silence. Persevere in the disciplines and practices that are part of our call to be disciples. Linger in the dust of our Jesus, even in the desert. God will use our brokenness. Trust that!

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