Tag Archives: following Jesus

Frozen by Fear

blueholeIt wasn’t like cliff-diving in Jamaica or Australia on some ledge hundreds of feet in the air, but it might as well have been the tallest cliff in the world from where I stood. Where did I stand, you ask? Well, on the top of the highest cliff on the north side of “Blue Hole” – a local recreation/swimming area in my hometown. I had been up there several times and stood looking over the edge. I wanted to experience the jump, but I was paralyzed by my fear. I was frozen in place.

I’ve learned that fear has that effect on me sometimes. When fear begins to creep into my psyche and my spirit I often find myself locked up. It’s not my feet or my arms that don’t work, it’s my brain. I get seized up like a motor that threw a rod, like a teenage boy trying for the very first time to ask out a girl. I know I need to think something, but the gears don’t seem to move.

Fear can do that. It can cause us to get frozen in our tracks. It can paralyze our brain functions and hinder our ability to move forward. It’s not a fun place to be.

There was one day when Jesus encountered a man who was stuck inside a body that wouldn’t function. He was physically paralyzed. The man was brought to Jesus by some friends. They actually opened up the roof and lowered him down to where Jesus was. Jesus looked at the man. Then he looked up to see his friends staring down through the newly opened hole in the roof. Looking back at the man he said – “Your sins are forgiven.” Now, this caused a stir among the Jewish people – only God can forgive sins, they said. Jesus replied, “So, would it be easier for me to just say get up and walk?” And so he did that, and the man got up and walked.

The story is much about who Jesus is, but it is also about that man. Much speculation has gone into trying to figure out his real issue. I don’t have a definitive answer for you on that. What I do have is my own experience of being paralyzed by fear – and sometimes the fear that comes from not living the way God wants me to live. There are times in my life when I find myself in that man’s place.

So, what is it I want from Jesus in those moments? Honestly, it would be nice if he said, “Get up and walk,” and I could and I would. I would like it if God just cleared the cobwebs, gave me a push in the right direction and showed me what to do.

What is it I usually get from God in those moments? “Your sins are forgiven” or “Fear not, I am with you.” More than just thawing out my frozen gray matter, God looks to address the deeper issue. It may be that I am not living the way God wants. Often times I’m just giving into the fear (which you could argue IS my sin – a lack of trust in God).

What I want would seem to me to be the easier answer – just lay out the path for me and give me a push in that direction. It’s like being on the top of that cliff and having a friend give you a gentle push. You have little choice at that point but to make your way to the water.

What God seems to want is not what seems easy to me. God wants me to trust him more. God wants me to take a deep breath, believe he is in control and begin to figure out which way I need to go. That’s what ultimately happened for me on that cliff. I took the step all on my own. I didn’t let fear drive my decision. It was a great adventure – and I did it on my own.

I am discovering that trusting God is not “doing it on my own.” But, it is also not just letting God force me or push me into something. I have discovered that when I do not give into fear and instead I trust God, then I experience a great adventure WITH God. We become partners. And God also sends others to be with me – we become a team, a spiritual force working to make the Kingdom of God a greater reality in this world.

Stepping off that cliff wasn’t easy.  Following God’s call isn’t always easy, either.  But in both cases, I found myself stronger for having made the step and for having followed His call.  I have discovered that my fear is not stronger than faith – even when I think fear just might be more powerful, it is not!  I hope you will know this truth as well.

Holy high-five to you,
Mike

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Trayvon, George, and the search for answers

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Okay.  It seems that the story of Trayvon Martin’s death and the trial of George Zimmerman is the story to focus on this week. For some pastors it was important enough to adapt their sermons for this week once the verdict was known. I didn’t, but I’ll get back to that later. For now I can tell you this – I don’t have many answers in regard to this case.

Here’s what I do know – the litany of events is a tragedy of a story. A young man is dead. Another man is vilified or vindicated, depending on your viewpoint. The country faces another fault line of division, as if there were not enough. There is no answer which brings Trayvon Martin back to life. There is no answer that changes the verdict for George Zimmerman (though the federal government may try to bring about one from another angle). The only possibility for hope to grow up out of this muck and mess is that it changes the way we deal with one another. And the only hope for that is to truly follow Jesus Christ and allow the Spirit of God to move in us.

Here’s what I mean by that. This was a tweet I saw after the verdict:

tweet copy

That is a nice sentiment. That would be a beautiful thing. Of course, such things require something of us. What I don’t know at this point is the reality of who Trayvon Martin was and how he lived his life. Some paint him as thuggish and dangerous. Others say he was nothing like that. I don’t know. For the sake of this argument, let’s first say violence was a possibility in the confrontation. That being the case, giving him a ride puts a person at risk. That requires us to willingly step into a possibly precarious situation. It means fear would not be our first response. Then, if we say violence was not part of his demeanor or personality, then giving him a ride home or anywhere else was nothing to fear, but it still requires us to go out of our way to help. The problem in these situations is there is no way to know. And when there is no way to know we often find ourselves making assumptions. In this case, the unfortunate and sad reality just may be that because Trayvon was black the assumption was he was dangerous. My sense of this is that had he been a white young man in a hoodie that may not have been the conclusion to which George Zimmerman so quickly jumped.

So, what’s my point in all of this? Well, it goes back to why I did not change my sermon on Sunday to include this case. The point is, following Jesus is going to call us to see persons first as ones created in God’s image. It means we may end up putting ourselves at risk. That’s what Jesus did. He loved with such great abandon that it eventually cost him his life. The Bible is clear – the servant is not greater than the master. The student is called to live the same life as the teacher. My work in preaching is to help bring the truth of God to the people of God that they might live most fully as said people. The particulars of this case are not the issue; the way we seek to live our life every day as followers of Jesus is.

To be a follower of Jesus is to hold on loosely to what we have. It means we need not fear ANY young man in a hoodie walking through our neighborhood. It means the value of our stuff and our property is less than the value of any life. It means being willing to let go of all you have – even your very life – to show love to another person. Does this set us up to be hurt? Yes. Does it put us at greater risk? Yes. Could we find our life ended because of such love? Yes and no. Yes, this life in this world could end. No, your life in Christ is eternal.

This is not a word about what George Zimmerman should have done. It is not about what the verdict should have been. It is not about what the Federal Government should do to bring forth the justice so many are calling for. I don’t have the answers for that because I don’t know enough about all that was involved. I am thankful not to be sitting on that jury or any future jury for this case.

This post is about us. This post is about how we live our lives and how we view the lives of others. This post is about the call to follow Jesus and to be willing to lay down our lives so that grace would have the opportunity to gain a foothold in the world. For that, my friends, is the answer. A love offered with great abandon. A viewpoint that seeks to see first the presence of God. A willingness to be kind and generous and patient and peaceful first and foremost. That will change the world. We know it works because we read the stories in a good book. We know it works because for many of us it is our story.

So, as we mourn the death of a young man and the tragic results that continue to play out, the search for answers goes far beyond this one story. The search for answers begins deep within our hearts. May we live lives full of grace and love in such a way that others discover the peace and joy of Jesus Christ and maybe, just maybe, the next young man will find life and find it abundantly.

Holy high-five to you,
Mike

A Changing (and challenging) Preposition

Yes, that title correctly says “preposition,” though you may think it means to say “proposition.” I want to talk to you about changing prepositions as a way to reclaim or fully claim our life as followers of Jesus. I want to encourage you in what God has been speaking to me.

Our greatest possibility for impacting the lives of others and helping people experience the HOPE of Jesus Christ comes in changing from “FOR” to “WITH.”

with cautionNow, before I get to the meat of that change the “Spiritual Health Association” (or the SHA) requires that I offer this cautionary warning first. If you are wondering what the SHA is, simply put, it is something I just made up. But, that does not diminish the validity of the warning I am about to give.

CAUTION: “with” is much messier than “for”

Okay, now that you’ve been so warned, let’s talk about what it means.

“FOR” is a very common word in our Christian vocabulary – and not a bad word. When needs arise around us we often try to think about what we can do “for” the person or entity in need. And again, it’s not a bad thing. When we hear about a village in Nicaragua where people do not have regular access to good, clean water, we want to do something “for” them. And we do. Our church, for example, is working to raise money to send a team to Nicaragua to help drill a water well and hoping to raise enough money to pay for the costs of drilling that well. Now, in fairness to our efforts, we are going there to work “with” the people of Nicaragua and that village. But, in the end, it will be something we have done “for” them.

Let’s bring it a bit closer to home. When we have people in our community who have needs – they struggle to have food on the table – our hearts go out to them and we want to do something “for” them. And we do. We give money to the food bank, we put together holiday food baskets, etc. Again, not a bad thing to do something “for” someone else.

We can move even closer and talk about our life in the church. How many of us volunteer to do something “for” the church? We usher at the worship service, we sing in the choir or praise band, we teach a class, we fix the broken things around the building. We do things “for” the sake of the church and the activities of the church – not bad.

But what if we decided to purposely shift from “for” to “with?” What if we decided to walk “with” people in our community who are struggling to make ends meet? What if we purposely decided to live in their neighborhood “with” them? What if instead of providing a meal at the holidays we invited them to eat “with” us in our home? What if we invited a struggling family to live “with” us for a time as we walk “with” them into a more hopeful future?

What if we decided that serving the church is not about doing a job “for” the church but instead is about serving “with” others? What if the work of ushering became a means of loving our brothers and sisters so much that we want to make their time of worship meaningful? What if singing in the choir was about worshiping “with” our brothers and sisters more than singing a song “for” them? What if going to church each week was not about doing something “for” ourselves or “for” God and instead became a way that we join “with” our fellow disciples to spend time “with” God?

I know, I am rambling and many of you reading this may be thinking you already have this mindset. The good news for me is that these blogs are my musings more than a treatise, so it may not be completely clear. The bad news for us is that I don’t think we live “with” each other as much as we could. Living “with” each other means we open ourselves up to one another. Living “with” each other happens not as a congregation, but as a small band of disciples living and growing together. Living “with” each other means we come together to share meals and share our lives and confess our sins. Living “with” each other means when a brother or sister falls into a pit, we jump in to help them out. It means sharing all we have “with” brothers and sisters in need without hesitation. It means that our desire to help others overcome issues of poverty and prejudice goes from doing something help “for” them to opening up our lives to walk “with” them.

“With” is messier than “for,” no doubt. It means taking a risk and knowing others whom you try to love more deeply will take advantage of you. It means giving up your own comfort in order to make HOPE more real for someone else. It means making a commitment to a small group of disciples and connecting with them as family. It even means disconnecting from family and friends in order to connect with others. You may have to forget what is behind and reach for what God has put ahead of us.

And here is the most significant lesson we need to learn about life “with” others – especially those who we seek to do things “for”: We need to learn to accept that others who are “in need” have much to teach us. We need to learn that we don’t have it all right just because our life is alright. There was a day when a woman of questionable reputation came to Jesus when he was at the home of a church-going religious leader. She began to weep in his presence and washed his feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. The religious man was appalled that Jesus would let this happen. Jesus used it to teach the man about what it means to worship God and give thanks for the grace God gives. This woman knew the grace of God in such a way that she offered an act of worship. It wasn’t that she went to church or said all her prayers, it was simply an honest act of gratitude. Jesus said that her act was a greater work than the moral life this man was living. Where he lived his life “for” God, this woman wanted to live her life “with” Jesus.

Again, I wish I had a greater clarity of what this could mean. But all I know right now is that Jesus came as “God with us” – Emmanuel. He gave up the power and comfort of heaven to enter into this life in order to help us know a greater HOPE than we could find anywhere else. Yes, he did something “for” us in dying on the cross, but his greatest promise was this: “I will be WITH you always…” He spent his time not with the religious people, but with sinners and prostitutes and those most in need of HOPE. He also spent time with a small band of disciples walking with them and helping them grow as he lived among the poor and outcast. So, ultimately, for me, it comes down to this – if I am a follower of Jesus Christ how is he calling me to walk “with” and live “with” others, especially those who need HOPE the most? How am I living and learning “with” a small band of disciples?

Maybe I will eventually make more sense of this and I can post another blog entry. But for now, this will have to do. I look forward to your help in working through this.

Holy high-five to you,
Mike

P.S. Soon after the day when I was pondering this “with” idea on a walk and talk with my son, another friend posted this link to a lengthy but more theologically astute article about this same idea. I do not deny that some of my thoughts in writing this blog post were also influenced by this article. However, the ideas in the article simply joined the thoughts already in progress inside my brain:
http://thecresset.org/2013/Easter/Wells_E2013.html

Are we settlers or pioneers?

We are in a different era in our nation these days. Our country has been well explored and well discovered. There seems to be less opportunity for everyday people to strike out on a new adventure, take on the daniel boone copychallenges of dealing with the unknown in the midst of hoping for a new and meaningful life in a new place. the result is that there are less and less examples of adventurous people and a greater tendency to be settlers rather than pioneers.

Settlers were the ones who came along later and followed the newly worn trail of the pioneers. They followed the wagon wheel tracks to discover this new place where they could live their life. Settlers did leave behind what was comfortable and then reestablished their home in a new place. They lived differently in some ways, but mostly they just adjusted their old life to this new place.

As I participated in a discussion about the gospel of Luke last night, I began to wonder if the church had not gotten to much the same place that our nation has. Are the people of God who call themselves Christians more apt to be settlers rather than pioneers? Are we believers in Jesus Christ who live our lives mostly the same as we always have, or are we followers of Jesus Christ who seek to explore new possibilities and open up a new path that leads others to a greater life?

Yeah, I can hear the question in my own head – what does it mean to be a Christ-follower, a “pioneer” living out our faith? Do we need to sell all our possessions and give the money to the poor (Matthew 19:16-30 & Luke 12:32-34)? Maybe. Do we need to leave our homes and go to another country as missionaries? Maybe. Do we need to change our lifestyle and live more simply, buy a house in a less affluent part of town and live among the poor? Could be.

But, then again, maybe not. As so often happens in these discussions we came around to the idea that maybe we are in our home, in our neighborhood, because God wants us there to serve those around us. Maybe we live in these middle-class subdivisions where so many people are caught up in the materialistic, consumeristic lifestyle so that we might show them a better way of living. And this is true – God is always wanting us to show those around us a better way of living. The question is, are we doing it?

There are at least two possibilities for us in living where we are (probably more than two, but we’ll talk about two). One is that God has called us to live out the gospel in that place. The second possibility is that we like our life as it is so we convince ourselves that it’s okay because certainly God can use us where we are. I am not here to decry that second prospect as sinful or unholy. That’s a discussion for another day. I am simply wanting us to ask the question – based on where we are now (by God’s call or our own choice) are we truly living out the gospel in our neighborhood?

The problem with me asking this question is that it forces me to answer it for myself. And if I were to be honest, I cannot swear to you that I am right where God wants me to be – it may be my own desire to live such a  lifestyle that has me where I am. I also cannot say with any real evidence that I am living out the gospel in my neighborhood.

According to the Gospel of Luke we are to live among the people – the poor, the hurting, the lost, and to be in ministry to them in a real way. In order to live that out – to live out that life as a “pioneer” and follower of Jesus Christ – I should be more engaged with my neighbors. Some of them may need encouragement because they are living a lifestyle beyond their means and are overwhelmed by debt. Some of them may be facing issues of brokenness in their family or in themselves. They may be losing their job or facing major health struggles. How can I walk beside them and minister to them in any way if I do not associate with them and truly live among them?

The truth is I can’t. And, the other truth is, I am not trying to. I do not know my neighbors very well. I live tucked away in my own home much like others around me. I look more like the non-Christians in my neighborhood than Jesus would if he were in my shoes, at least as I imagine it based on what I read in Scripture.

In other words, I am a settler. Someone else has led me to a life with Jesus and I have adjusted my old life to fit in this new place. And yet, I can hear the call of God calling me to explore new possibilities. I can hear God calling to me:

“If you are going to live where you are, then live out the gospel in that place. Take a risk. Explore new territory. Your neighbors may not do these things and may not know how to receive you, but if you will reach out to them and love them and seek to be with them, I will work in you and through you to blaze a new path, a path that will lead your neighbors to a new place. It is time to take on the mantle of a disciple, the mantle of a pioneer, in the Kingdom of God. There is much new territory to be discovered in the hearts of your neighbors, the hearts of the poor and the forgotten, the sick and the lonely.”

Do you hear God’s voice as well? Will you venture with me into unknown places? Will you encourage me and let me encourage you? Will you and I encourage others who travel with us?

The path of an easy, settled life is wide and easy. The path of new life is narrow and difficult. On the first path life happens to us. On the second path life happens in us and through us.

Settler or pioneer? Which will you be?

Holy high-five to you,
Mike

How soon I forget

I had someone ask me the other day if I was doing okay. It seems I often post very transparent statuses and tweets and blog posts. They thought I was struggling with things or I was having hard times. The answer is, not really. I have had more difficult times in regard to the things coming at me from the inside. The truth of it is, I am very introspective. I know me. I know my bent toward sinning (by that I mean my tendency to ignore God, go my own way, and sometimes be really off track). I guess I focus on those things sometimes because I want to see those things change. I know I am missing out on the greater life when I don’t let the Spirit of God work in me.

So, with that confession out of the way, here’s a Scripture text I read in my morning quiet time a few days back. It captures a bit of what my reality is within my spirit:

When I fed them, they were satisfied;
and their hearts became proud;
therefore, they forgot me.
(Hosea 13:6)

The truth of my life is that God has been good to me. Shoot, I see it every Sunday when the words God allows me to speak touches a heart or helps someone know God more – that’s an amazing miracle considering how the words were put together and how they sounded the night before!

It’s the song lyrics – “Count your many blessings, count them one by one…” When I begin to do that I get weary of counting long before I am done. I am a blessed man, a recipient of God’s amazing grace. God has fed me both physically, emotionally, and spiritually throughout my days, and I know that. And yet, I fall prey to the words of Hosea.

You see, my issue is not that I am struggling. My life is not in a free fall at the moment. My life is good. And yet, I know the reality of my soul. I know that I have become proud in my spirit and I have forgotten God.

But, you may ask, what does that look like? (My Disciple Bible study folks will appreciate that question!) Well, it looks like a man who worries where he will find the strength to accomplish the tasks before him. It looks like a man who is anxious because HE can’t do what he thinks he should be able to do. It looks like a man who works hard to make things happen, but never asks God to help, much less asking God if he should even be doing what he’s doing.

The reason that happens? Well, I either think I CAN do it because I have done it before. Or, I think I SHOULD BE ABLE to do it because others do. I get deluded into believing I can accomplish whatever I put my mind to doing. I deceive myself into believing others who do great things set the standard for me. The truth is, I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13). The reality is, I should run the race set before me, not the one I see others running. I am reminded of the story when Jesus reinstated Peter after the Resurrection (John 21:15-25). Jesus is talking to Peter about his call and Peter says, “What about him?” (referring to John). Jesus basically says, “Don’t worry about him, you follow me as I lead you.

You see, I so quickly forget how amazing it is to do what God calls me to do. So often I get caught up in what I think God wants me to do or what will make me look good in the eyes of others. I want to be “successful” in ministry (whatever that means) and so I work hard at it. Problem is, I work hard at it and forget how it feels to see God at work in me and through me.

I forget how God has fed me. I forget how God empowered me. I forget how God has blessed me. And I begin to think I can, or I must, do it on my own. Either way, the issue is one of pride. The issue is that I so often quickly forget. And in the end, I am the worse off for it.

So you see, the words of Hosea are not simply an admonition about how bad we are for forgetting God, it is a reminder that forgetfulness leads us to experiencing life at a much lower level. And that’s why I post the way I do. That’s why I sometimes tweet on Twitter the way I do. It is a reminder to me. It is a public notice to myself to remember whose I am and the life I can have.

I hope that in some way those reminders are helpful to you as well.

Holy high-five to you,
Mike

Discipling We Will Go…

Discipling we will go.
Discipling we will go.
Hi ho the Kingdom-O,
Discipling we will go.

If you caught yourself singing the above to the childhood tune of “The Farmer in the Dell”  then welcome to my world. The question you may ask is “why?” Well, I began to think about one of Asbury’s indicators of faithful discipleship – the ways we can look at our own lives and ask others to look at what they see in us and examine our level of faithfulness. In a previous post I wrote about another indicator – “pursuing faithful relationships” and today I want to consider another – the work of teaching and discipling others.

The reason this is a measure of our own faithfulness is that it comes from Jesus instruction to his followers as he left them and returned to heaven:

Then Jesus came to them and said,“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you…”

(Matthew 28:18-20a TNIV)

One of the greatest commands is also one of the most neglected – discipling others. It’s true for me and I know it’s true for many others. It’s not that we don’t care about discipling others or we don’t think it’s necessary. I believe the greatest reason for our neglect is our own sense of unworthiness or inability to communicate the faith to others.

So often we feel like neophytes and infants in our faith – and we feel like that year after year. So often we know that we don’t live an intentional life of discipleship and so we feel like frauds when we try to walk beside others to help them live such a life.

I get this, and I live it so often. It reminds me of conversations I have had about losing weight and healthy eating. I have had many more of those conversations in recent weeks. I have had more people asking me about how to eat differently and how to get engaged in a regular exercise program. Why is that? Why the increase in questions? Well, I have been losing weight by eating differently and exercising and people see that. The point is not that I am doing something, but that in the doing it is noticed by others. And, in the doing I have something to share with others.

That’s what it takes to teach and disciple others. It doesn’t mean you have all the answers or get it all right. For example, I am only about half way to my weight loss goal so I still have a lot to learn. It simply means that we are intentional about living our faith – in our regular prayer time, our searching of the Scriptures, our reaching out to help the hurting, the lame, the poor, the oppressed. In living out the call of discipleship and living it on a daily basis, not only will we have something to share, but people may even begin to ask us why they see such a change in us.

Maybe the most important part of our own intentional living as a follower of Jesus Christ is our desire to help others find what we have found. The greatest way we can live out our own discipleship is by intentionally teaching and discipling others. I believe that in living such a life others would long to know the life we know – a life of joy and peace in the Holy Spirit.

Imagine the impact that would have in the world at large. It would begin to make the Kingdom of God a greater reality. It would bring the presence of God into the world in a more powerful and prolific way. “Hi ho, the Kingdom-O as discipling we would go.”

Holy high-five to you,
Mike

Pursuing Faithful Relationships

I wanted to begin blogging about the “markers” of discipleship the Asbury UMC Church Unique team prayerfully named. We have a list of five indicators of a faithful disciple  — someone who is truly experiencing the HOPE of Jesus Christ in their life and helping others do the same (see the list here). It is not unique to Asbury and it is not exhaustive. It is, however, the image of faithfulness we have at Asbury and so I wanted to share my thoughts about these.

The first one on the list (the order is not important) is this:

Pursues faithful relationships with God and others

If we are followers of Jesus, what the Bible refers to as disciples, then faithful relationship with God is a given. But, Jesus also said, “This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, when you love each other” (John 13:35). Having close and deep relationships with other followers of Jesus is an essential part of the new life we’re called to. It is for our benefit as well as their’s (this idea also coincides with the fact that “relationships” were named as one of the top values for the people of Asbury.)

The more interesting word, for me, in this mark of discipleship is the word “pursues”. I love that this is the word we chose to use. It reminds us that both our relationship with God and our relationship with others should be intentional. We should make an effort to keep our connection to God and others. We should make an effort so the relationship has an opportunity to grow.

To pursue something also means we believe there is something to be obtained. In the case of our relationships it means we believe we can love more and love more deeply. In both our connection to God and to each other the most significant resource we have for pursuing the relationship is time. in regard to God, it is time spent in the Word, in Scripture. It is time spent in prayer, not just talking but listening. It is time spent reaching out to help those in need. In our relationship with other believers it is time spent together. It is time spent asking each other “How is it with your soul? What are the painful parts of life and where do you find you greatest joy?” It is time spent having a meal or watching a sporting event, or going to a museum. But, again, it is intentional.

I have to admit, I have been better at pursuing a faithful relationship with God than with others. I have not been intentional in making and deepening my connection with others. Having work on the team that parsed out this mark of discipleship I began to realize the only way that would change is if I did something. So I did. I ask a friend to meet me for breakfast. We had worked together on various things within the church but that was about all. So, I made an intentional effort and set up a time for us to meet. There was nothing spectacular about the meal or our conversation, but we did develop a better relationship. Just to take the time to connect and converse makes a difference.

My next goal is to connect with someone serving in ministry who is a dedicated follower of Jesus (and no, the two do not always go hand-in-hand). I hope to find someone who lives in a deep mature relationship with God. I hope to find someone who will help me deepen my relationship with Jesus just as they have. But, even then I must be intentional in my efforts to connect and develop that relationship.

Did you hear some of the words? A disciple has deep relationships – with God and others. They are intentional in their pursuit, and they are willing to put forth real effort in that pursuit. They are willing to give the gift of time  to the other person. Intentional efforts with significant time commitments – that is the formula for pursuing faithful relationships with God and others.

So, how are you doing?
How does your discipleship measure up to this standard?

What might you be able to do to pursue a faithful relationship with God and others?

Feel free to leave a response and share your experience.

Holy high-five to you,
Mike