Jesus is Crazy!

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Sometimes, I think Jesus is summed up best in one word…crazy! If you really watch him, listen to what he teaches and apply it to your life, you might agree with me. This man is nuts! Consider for a second one of his more famous teachings:

“Don’t resist an evil person!

If you are slapped on the right check, turn the other, too.

If you are ordered to court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too.

If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles.

Give to those who ask, and don’t turn away from those who want to borrow.”

What was he thinking? Does he really understand what he’s asking us to do? What are the end results of a life like this? Do I really have to allow myself to be beat up to follow Jesus? Do I really have to freely give my stuff away, without resistance — even more — does he really expect me to give more than what they are trying to take from me or to serve more than what is being required by a person in authority over me? Do I really have to live this way?

That’s what’s amazing about the way of Jesus! It doesn’t make any sense from the perspective of self-preservation. But that’s just it. That’s the complete wrong perspective.

Jesus has invited us to follow him, which means that we live life like him. That we watch how he talked…how he interacted with people…how he touched the untouchable…how he loved the disgraced…how he accepted the prostitute…how he forgave those who were intent on killing him. We stand at the shadow of the cross and hear his words echoing, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves take up their cross and follow me.” And from that vantage point, all rebuttals that Jesus was just talking rhetorically disappear.

Here is a radical God that is recklessly demonstrating the depth of love he has for us. It’s a love that transforms us to the very core. So much so, that it becomes who we are. It becomes what we offer. And at this point, we stop asking, “Does he really want me to do this?” and we begin asking, “Who is the next person I can share this with?” And this sharing is so much less about what we say…it’s about who we are. It’s about being willing to die so someone else might live!

Yeah, this is crazy – but what a beautiful way to live!

 

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Not So Dirty Laundry

The clothes line.

It’s a picture that has been almost completely erased in our contemporary world. We live in a microwavable society and we don’t have time to wait for the wind to dry our clothes. We have instant access to nearly everything. If you want to know how tall Dirk Nowitzki is or even how to spell his name, just Google it (he’s 7′ tall by the way). If you want to know exactly how much longer before your kids get home, just text them. If you want to get the seven-day forecast or find out the latest breaking news in the world or sports, just hit the “News & Weather” app on your phone. I don’t need to go on. You know how small our world has gotten and how instantly everything comes to us. Even this blog is an example of this.

I love much of this new era we are in. Staying connected to so many more people. Not having to watch the news but knowing what’s going on in the world. Not getting lost everytime I go somewhere new. But is there a price that we pay for this?

Sometimes I long for the simple and less convenient. For moments of walking around with a cup of coffee in my hand, knowing that it will be another hour before my next task can be attempted, much less completed. Time to breathe. Time to think. Time to connect one on one with someone – not through a computer or in a text message but face to face. Where I can see the light in their eyes and the smirk on their face. But too many times, this is missed.

We have so much opportunity for relationship in front of us and so often we settle for less. We share a polite, “How’s it going?” in passing or send someone a “poke” on facebook or add them as a friend but still find ourselves isolated and unknown. It is too easy for us to hurry from one important event to the next, forgetting the people the event is really about. And we accept surface relationships as normal.

But…we were made for more! We were created to love and be loved deeply. To be known at every level and loved anyway – even in spite of the stuff we wish wasn’t there. We are shown a picture of this from the Father, as he takes our dirty laundry and incredibly makes it fresh again. And as he hangs it up dry, our shame of what once covered our stuff is now gone!

I can look you in the eye and tell you of the old stains in my life with a smile on my face, having no thought of embarrassment because it’s not there anymore. When this is done, authentic relationship is developed, love is shared and the Father is made known. And when we hit a bump in the road and the coffee flies all over us, we can draw from this relationship and point back at the clothes line. A reminder of the newness given by the Father in the past and the promise of what’s available to us now.

So bring on the coffee and the conversation. Let’s share this life together. Don’t worry about the spills, I know a good cleaner!

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Reckless Pursuit

I have never enjoyed running, although I have done it in some form for most of my life. It is sort of required to play the sports I love. But I have never really understood running for the sake of running. My thought is, “Why go through the trouble if there is no greater reward waiting at the end?”

A year and a half ago, I led Journey Christian Community in Waco, TX through a teaching series entitled, “Yahweh’s Story.” It is an amazing story full of unbelievable love and indescribable heartache. It is the story that we all find ourselves in — but it is not our story. It’s the Father’s!

Since the very beginning of this story, our Father has been after us. He has been pursuing us with reckless abandon. And we run. We follow the pattern of so many who have come before us and we run. We run because we are afraid. We run because we are ashamed. We run because we believe that something out there will ease our hearts.

If only we would slow down long enough to take a look at the one chasing after us. We would see the face of a Father whose heart is breaking. We would hear the tenderness of his voice, pleading, “It’s OK! Come, let me hold you. You are my precious one.” You see, the Father is not in pursuit to accuse and destroy. In fact, quite the opposite! He pursues because he loves you radically and he will continue in his chase until the last chapter of his story is written.

I, like most of us, am a runner. But I have been caught by the Father and have been overcome by his love for me. I still run but most days it is toward him.

This blog and its posts are dedicated to discovering the Father’s pursuit of our hearts and the incredible life given to us as we live recklessly in his love.

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Reckless Pursuit Announcement and Ch. 12 Teaser

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It’s August and it’s finally here! No, I’m not talking about school – we’re still a couple of weeks away from that! And I’m sure that my kids and your students aren’t happy with me even bringing it up. So, what’s here? What’s the big news?

Reckless Pursuit is finally ready to be released! Today starts a week-long countdown to when it will be made available for purchase! I can’t wait to share this with you and can hardly believe it is time. If you’ve been reading these book teasers over the past couple months, I want to ask for your help. Share them with your friends and get the word out. My greatest desire is that you, your family and your friends discover the relentless love of God in a fresh, life-changing way and I hope that Reckless Pursuit can play a small role in leading you there.

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As we work toward the release, I’d like to share with you the final book teaser taken from Ch. 12 – “What’s Your Name?”

Kristen and I play a game with Brycen that we have played with all our kids. From the time he started interacting with us, we have taken turns asking him, “Whose boy are you?” And then we start pointing at ourselves and pleading our case in an effort to get him to pick one of us. If he picks Kristen, she cheers and I start complaining. I beg him to pick me and I re-ask the question, this time with more passion, “Whose boy are you?” Sometimes this works and he changes his answer, causing Kristen to start begging. Sometimes he stays firm with his choice, which immediately causes me to attack him, tickling him and asking him the question over and over again until he changes his mind. It is a ridiculous game but it’s a lot of fun. And in the end, Brycen knows that we are both madly in love with him and want his love in return. 

Reckless Pursuit: God’s Story of Relentless Love – RELEASE DATE: AUGUST 19, 2013!

Reckless Pursuit: Ch. 11 – That’s Incredible

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Have you ever considered just how much our world has changed because of these incredible devices? When I think about it, the word “phone” falls significantly short to what they really are. They function with more capacity than the laptop my wife bought me 13 years ago. And they don’t ever resemble those big, cumbersome cell phones we used to carry some 10 years ago. They are amazing little computers that keep us connected to our friends, keep us up to date on what’s happening in the world, keep us in the know about what our kids are doing, and of course – keep us entertained.

But sometimes, I question their role in our lives. Sometimes I wonder if they really make our lives easier…better. No, I’m not one of those over zealous anti-technology guys. I love seeing what the next thing will do (actually shared an idea with Kristen last night about a computer display that I’ve never seen before but except to see soon – I’m sure somebody much smarter than me has already thought of it). But for all the advancements, for all the apps and toys our phones have – are our lives really that much better? Are they less complicated? For all the extra connections we have, do we really have more authentic relationships? Are we personally engaged with people more?

Is it possible that all of this technology has actually lessened our intimacy? That it has multiplied the number of people we are exposed to while at the same time pushing us away from the most significant relationships? Is it possible that our phones have actually become a barrier to authentically connecting to people?

When was the last time you were heading into a deep conversation with someone and right as they begin to open up, you said, “Hang on. Let me take this for a minute.” and you answer your phone or check a text? Or have you found yourself finally on a date with your spouse, one that is long over due, and halfway through dinner you realize that you haven’t even been able to talk because of all the interruptions? Is this really better?

There’s a way to use this technology and not be controlled by it. To be plugged in but not distracted. To be connected but not constantly available. To embrace the tools available, while still being relational, authentic and intimately present.

That is a life that’s better. A life I want to grow more toward. A life I live in but need to protect more intentionally. But sometimes, the interruption is needed. Even ordained.

The following is a snapshot excerpt of the upcoming book…

Reckless Pursuit: God’s Story of Relentless Love – Chapter 11: That’s Incredible

It was Christmas and we had driven ten hours south to Tomball, Texas (a suburb of Houston) to spend the holiday with Kristen’s family. It had been an exciting but hectic fall, completely immersed in ministry and Christmas was going to be a much needed break. As usual, Kristen’s entire family descended on her parents’ house. The joy of family was tangible. Laughter and food dominated the atmosphere.

At the time, Brady and Reagan were the only children in the family and we all enjoyed being entertained by them into the early evening. However, as the evening grew late, we put them to bed and the real fun began. We pulled out the dessert, gathered around the kitchen table for a card game and partied late into the night. The next morning was more of the same. Lots of family time in the kitchen, with little other agenda than moving from one meal to the next throughout the day.

Then, the phone call.

It was a call I never wanted to receive. One that I couldn’t have been prepared for. One that would change me and so many others is countless ways.

Reckless Pursuit is currently being prepared for publishing. It will be made available to the public early this fall. Keep coming back here for more updates and teasers.

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