Tag Archives: faith

Is Jesus enough?

In the quest to know God’s will for our lives, I think we sometimes blend together the typical secular goals with our faith.  But I’ve been wondering:  what if we don’t achieve our goals?  What if we don’t land that dream job?  What if the person you’ve been pursuing isn’t interested?  What if you’ve felt called to do a certain type of ministry and it never seems to work out?

Is Jesus enough?

What do I mean by that question?  I’m not saying we shouldn’t have goals.  I’m not saying we shouldn’t put forth effort and go for it.  I’m saying that our faith needs to be grounded in such a way that Jesus is enough to satisfy.

When I was younger, I felt called to full-time pastoral ministry.  Others I knew affirmed it.  I was a volunteer youth pastor and began preaching and working with the youth in our church.  I went back to school to study ministry full-time and got my degree in church ministry.  I studied theology, leadership, preaching and counseling.  I worked on staff at a few different churches and ultimately left the ministry after two back-to-back bad experiences, the last one being quite abusive and demoralizing.  Since then I’ve only ever volunteered.  It was a challenge to trust again after being burned.  Even as a volunteer, I’ve experienced several churches where it seems difficult to get connected for whatever reason.  What’s the message there from God?  I thought I was called?  At one point I felt recovered enough and tried to look for ministry positions again but by then I had gaps in my ministry resume and didn’t have the connections.  Ultimately I followed the career path that was in front of me to pay the bills and provide for my family.

I’ve had to let go of what I think my life should look like and follow the path God has set before me.  Because if you take away the job, the ministry, the connections or friends or whatever else we hang our hats on, we are still Christ followers living out our faith.

So if the dream job doesn’t materialize, is Jesus enough to carry you?

If you lose the house in the suburbs or your standing in the community, is your faith enough?

If the person you thought would love you is no longer in your life, can you carry on?

I think about people in the Bible who had it all and then faced tragedy or obstacles.  Moses never got to see the promised land.  David never got to see the temple built.  The prophets never got to meet their Messiah.  Peter was shamed by denying Jesus.  Paul was imprisoned for preaching.  You hear stories of missionaries who don’t see the fruit of their ministry but after they pass the seeds they planted took hold.

Is our faith in Jesus enough to carry us through life?  Trusting in Him, following His will and allowing Him to order our steps?

In the movie City Slickers, the main character talks about having one thing that means everything.  Think about that “one thing” in your life besides God.  If that one thing were taken away, how would your faith in Christ be affected?

Is Jesus enough?

Philippians 3:7-11

7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in[a] Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.


The simple path to God.

You would think more Christians would be fulfilled and content in their faith now than in the past.

 We have more information, resources, material, access and connectivity than ever and we are well past the point of information overload.  We have great buildings, excellent leaders and large congregations full of talent and commitment.  We have thousands of books, websites, blogs, seminars and conferences.  We have rich tradition and heritage, modern mega church campuses, online streaming services and charismatic pastors and leaders.  And there are also a lot more of us than in the first century.

 Yet in each generation, we still find ourselves searching for God and trying to find fulfillment.  It’s not for lack of the afore-mentioned things that our spiritual lives suffer, nor is there anything wrong with them in and of themselves.  But sometimes we over complicate things.

 Jesus liked to boil things down to some simple points.  Love  God, love others.  Forgive people.  How many times do you forgive them?  Too many to count, you just forgive. 

 Serve others.  If someone is hungry, give them food.  If thirsty, a drink of water.  If they’re cold, offer them your coat.  You don’t need a complex theological model with charts and graphs to tell you how to help someone in need.

 I think sometimes we make approaching God and growing our faith more complex than it needs to be.  What I’ve found is that it’s hard enough to get the simple things right.  We are sinners that fall short every day but we can keep striving for better. 

 Just take time out of your week to pray to God.  And when you pray, try not to make it all about yourself and asking for things.  Crack open the Bible more often than you used to.  Attend church and try to focus and not be distracted.  Sing along with the hymns and songs and try to mean it.  Turn off the media and quiet yourself and get some perspective and think about God, and sense His presence.  Get through your week doing more good than bad and try to be a good example of Christ to others.  Try harder at showing people love and mercy than trying to be right or win the argument.

 If we do better at those simple things, we might catch a glimpse of the Divine.  Our differences in theology and the name on the church sign might not matter so much.  Non-believers might be more open to a faith they see lived out honestly and genuinely.  Remember the acronym KISS:  Keep it simple, stupid.  If you had to apply that spiritually:  pray, read the Bible, go to church, get involved, love others.  And mean it

 That last part could change the world.


The Art of the Spoken Word

The following 2 clips are making their way around the internet and you may have seen at least one of them.  I like to share artistry when I come across it.  Especially when it has both style and substance, a balance that is often elusive in the Church.

Enjoy!

 

You’ll want to watch this full screen and turn up your volume.

 

 


Your testimony doesn’t need to be “colorful” or “interesting.”

I once heard a youth evangelist talk about his earlier preaching days when he would share his testimony at almost every speaking event.  He grew up in church, but strayed during his late teen and college years and got into drinking, drugs, sex and partying all the time.  He would recount all the gory details of hitting rock bottom.  He admitted to us that through telling his testimony over and over, the details were almost glorified and he was tempted to go back to his sinful lifestyle.

Many people spend 95% of their testimony giving us all the juicy details, and then rush the end:  “Then I came to church and found God and I don’t do those things anymore.”  The end.  The specifics of our story are useful to connect and relate with others, but we have to make sure the focus of the testimony is on God, not our sin.

Aside from the details, everyone’s testimony is the same:  we are sinners who were lost until we came to Jesus.  The Gospel isn’t about the list of sins we committed B.C. (Before Christ).  The Gospel is The Good News — about Jesus, not us.   Our testimony is that “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  (Romans 5:8)  Obviously, when we tell our story we’re going to share our past.  It’s a part of who we are, where we came from and things that have shaped our lives.  But I’ve seen far too many testimonies that drone on about all the horrible things from their past, and then not have much to say about Jesus and their new life.  Many people also present it in a very depressing way, recounting how ugly sin is but not matching that intensity with the joy and peace found in Christ.

Early in my Christian life while hanging out with friends, my friend Sam and I were talking about our past and being thankful we found Jesus.  One girl in the group seemed down, and said that she had a boring testimony because she grew up in church and hasn’t “lived in the world.”  I told her that she does have a powerful testimony: of faithfulness.  I  would see solid Christians and doubt that I could ever be that strong a believer.  I had people telling me it was a fad that would pass, that I would slip up or that my faith wouldn’t last.  But seeing a Christian like her gave me hope and encouragement that I can walk with God and have a lasting faith as well.  She picked her head up with tears welling up in her eyes and a smile on her face and thanked me.

Sharing specifics can be helpful to connect with someone who may be in a similar situation, but the main focus should be on the powerful, life-changing encounter we’ve had with Christ, and how our lives are different because of Him.  The growth in our spiritual lives, attitudes, relationships, and other aspects of life are just as important as the rugged path to get here.  I was once lost, but now I am found. I was blind, but now I can see.  I was dead, but am alive again in Christ.


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