How Easter jacks with my thinking

Today, I was thinking about our celebration of Easter, more specifically I was thinking what if Jesus died and rose again every year? (First of all I don’t think I could live through it every year, I mean that I have only seen the passion of the Christ once (by choice and design)) As I thought more about it, I began to realize that the one time event on the cross realizing that a yearly sacrifice might have actually been what the Jews were looking for. The culture that they lived in, there was so much based on personal goodness because of personal actions that a once a year atonement was a lot better than the per sin atonement previously in place in the Old Testament and into the New pre-cross.
As people we look for a way to solve our problems, a way to correct ourselves in order to become more righteous. It makes sense to us that if we mess something up, we should fix it. I know from my own life that when I mess up or sin, I want to fix it, I NEED to fix it. I think I would prefer if there was a yearly festival or something that at that point in time my sins are forgiven so that in the upcoming year, I could try to sin less and try to perform better at life. That way I would be able to say, “I got a little more righteous this year, I had 7 sins less than last year” I could be proud of my improvement and show everyone I am gonna be fully righteous and not sin at all by the time I die (which is impossible because I do’t think I can go 5 minutes without sinning… (I just tried I failed, a guy with a kilt just walked in and I judged him pretty hard) we sin without trying, that just how we are). The reality is, that the death and resurrection (Mark 14-16) were a one time event. At which point every sin I have committed and will commit has been forgiven.
WAIT! WHAT? Jesus came to earth knowing every sin I would do knowing each one was going to add a little bit of pain to him, and he still decided to take it on. That is why it’s a good thing I am not Jesus,I would say “Oh, you are going to do 10,000 times and then you’re going to THAT 4,000 times (I sin a lot, I don’t keep a tally, but I’m sure my numbers are higher haha), if you keep doing that, I’m out!”
What I am reminded is that the whole reason Jesus came, was so we never had to wonder if we were in right standing with God, that He knew that when he died and 3 days later rise that it would be possible for us to be righteous. Not on our own acts or failed attempts to not sin/be righteous but because of God’s gift to humanity, God would only see us through the lens of his son after we accept our fallen state and the only way to unfall is have Jesus save us. His gift was one and done because Jesus had to conquer and vanquish sin and death. So that it wouldn’t have a fighting chance, that once your in the family nothing can get you. Too much grace, if you ask me, but then again that is why that I am not God.
I am truly blown away that God gave his son so that I could be forgiven and be a part of his family because Jesus died for me, simply because he loves me. That’s why Easter jacks with my thinking, there’s nothing I can do to become “better” or “less of a sinner” because in God’s eyes, I am already there.

Thanks God for not doing things how I would!

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A new Understanding of Good Friday for me

Today I did my devotions out of the Mark account of Good Friday. While I was reading something that I’ve read and heard many times. Where Jesus on the cross says “my God, my God, why have you forsaken me” but it had a totally new impact. Maybe someone has said it before, but I just wasn’t paying attention so for me today it was a new idea. That the wrath that we were destined to deal with wasn’t punishment administered by God, it was the removal of his presence. I go back to thinking of all the dark times I’ve had in my life, but they don’t even compare this moment Jesus faces on the cross, that God’s wrath that needed to be fulfilled was something so much bigger than some physical manifestation, it was the absence of His presence. Today I am thankful that I will never have to experience that because of Jesus sacrifice.

The call to discipleship

I am currently working on a discipleship method for the Jr. High group that I oversee. Here are some of my thoughts on discipleship.

Ignite Discipleship: At East Hill Ignite, we desire to create transformed disciples. A disciple of Jesus Christ is someone who is a committed follower of Jesus. Someone who has responded to the call of Jesus on their life (Mark 1:14-20; 2:14-17)

 

The goal of discipleship is to be living a fully human life in this fallen world in a union with Jesus Christ growing as a reflection of his image.

Discipleship is not a one time moment in the life of a believer, it is  a transformational process that carries on from the day of our new birth carrying over to our later years of life until the end. This process is carried on through a personal intimate relationship with Jesus Christ based on grace (Romans 5:1) not out of our own performance. We believe that perfomance based discipleship leads to legalism, institutionalism and eliteism.

Discipleship is a radical process. It takes us a process, from unsaved, to receive Jesus Christ as our lord and savior along with the instantaneous filling of the holy spirit. It requires us to die to ourselves and pick up the cross daily (Luke 9:23). We receive a new life (Matthew 16:24-28; John 6:35) and we are invited to be in a relationship with Jesus Christ (Matthew 11:25-30).

Discipleship Course

 

  1. The call to discipleship comes from Jesus to enter an intimate relationship with him.  The first week comes from understanding that we are called to become disciples. (Mark 1:16-18)
  2. Begins with a developed transformed identity in Jesus (John 1:12-13).
  3.  We are a new creature (2 Cor 5:17). Being Transformed (2 Cor 3:18) into the image of God (Romans 8:29). Having an identity that is being produced by the spirit (Gal 4:19)
  4. Discipleship is grounded in a costly relationship with Jesus. If you are willing to lose your life, you will find. (Matthew 16:25)
  5. Discipleship is initiated by the spirit of God, empowered by the Holy Spirit resulting in a transformed mind (John 8:31-35). Transformed heart (John 13:34-35). Transforming  character (John 15:7-8)
  6. Discipleship is guided by God’s word and the truth will set you free. (John 8:31-35)
  7. It is a relationship that is nurtured by community (Eph 5:22).
  8. It is carried out by sojourning in our lives while watching the world but not being of it (Phil 3:20, 1 Peter 2:11)

“Pickled”

I made it through the pickle project a couple of weeks ago I spent 45 days of immersion in the word. These past 45 days have radically shaped my life. I wish I could honestly report that I was “pickled” without a hitch, it would be an amazing story of discipline, of spirit conquering flesh into nothing. Well, the spirit conquered flesh, but not in the 45 days straight manner I wanted it to. The three things that I am taking away from this experience. First, the “The Discipline of Discipline.” Secondly, “failing forward”. Thirdly, “Walking worthy”

“The Discipline of Discipline” It takes a lot to be disciplined, more than just saying something and hoping that you do it. There is something to be said about a person who can set up goals in life and stick to the plan that is going to get them there. Discipline is to bring to a state of order and obedience by training and control. (Dictionary.com)  Our lives are not in order, we are a broken people and we need something to help us get over ourselves. In Luke 9:23 we find Jesus saying “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”

Failing forward, this might be the hardest part of the whole process. I did not do everything right, and how I would have liked to. What I learned from this is instead of failing and falling on my face, I needed to get back up and keep going. The last thing that needs to happen is that we fail and we beat up ourselves and get down. We must learn to press on and keep moving forward.

Walking Worthy: Ephesians 4:1-6 “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called;  one Lord, one faith, one baptism;  one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in.” Learning to walk worthy of your calling is complicated, it is not something that we can create by ourselves. Our calling comes from God, something that we get from reading the Bible and praying.

This project taught me how to live a life walking by the spirit and being a person who strives to be better, so that I can be a better example of Christ. It has had a lasting effect on my life and how I daily live.

A prayer for diligence

This morning during my devotions I read a prayer written by Thomas Aquinas. This prayer describes how as a believer it is so important to realize that Christ is the foundation of our lives. No matter how crazy the world gets, if we can just root ourselves in him we can be staedfast in our journey with him. There is going to be tough stuff that happens, but as long as we are grounded we can never drift to far.

“Give me, O Lord, a steadfast heart, which no unworthy affection may drag downwards; give me an unconquered heart, which no tribulation can wear out; give me an upright heart, which no unworthy purpose may tempt aside. Bestow on me also, O Lord my God understanding to know You, diligence to seek You, wisdom to find You, and faithfulness that may finally embrace You, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen” -Thomas Aquinas

The Pickle Project

Starting Monday I am initiating this 45 day, life changing project. I recently was reminded the process in which a cucumber becomes a pickle. It takes 45 days of immersion inside of a concoction to become a pickle. I became inspired by the 45 process in which a cuke becomes a pickle. I have decided to take the next 45 days of my summer to become a “pickle.” A cucumber undergoes a chemical change, a physical change and eventually becomes a pickle. I will be immersing myself in complete discipline in hopes of becomeing a better person. I will become physically disciplined, disciplined in my diet and also doing 2 days for my devotions, cutting out R-Rated movies. For my inspiration, I will be making a pickle to keep in my room to remind me of the change that I have committed to. I hope to keep it updated on my blog and post results on how my life is becoming radically changed. Pray for me, its going to be hard.

Learning to be second

Over the past few days there have been a number of things that I have been processing.
The thing that has really spoken to me the loudest over the past two days has been learning to put my intrests behind the intrests of the Lord’s This sounds like an easy concept to grasp, but it’s hard to really put that into practice. It is human nature to look out for “number one”, to always seek for the betterment of life. After all it is the American dream to be the best and have the best life possible.
This is the challenge I face daily, learning to die to myself and put first the things of God. Something that I have done to assist me in this journey is living a life of prayer.
This is a concept that I have heard, and it is a concept that in then past I have also disregarded as possible.
The lord has really changed my heart on this subject. How Am I supposed to follow after 1 Thes 5:17 “pray without ceasing”?
Well I’ve discovered it doesn’t mean face down prayer all the time, it means that I need to dedicate my life to being in constant communication with the things of the lord, by doing this I have learned that it makes listening to the lords voice and following after it makes putting myself second a lot easier. The key to dying to myself is to search after the lords voice, and my desires eventually take the backseat naturally.