Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
Have you ever read that passage before? It should shake your American Christianity right to the core. “She out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” We consider it foolish to put all of our life savings in the offering plate. Jesus didn’t.
Jesus is Greater – Jesus > Religion by Jefferson Bethke
On January 10th, 2012, Jefferson Bethke was born into the American Christianity limelight. “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus || Spoken Word” was released and within minutes the video seemed to go viral. I remember the day I watched it seeing people post things like, “I just saw someone with ‘Watch “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus” on YouTube!’ painted on the back of their car. Nothing like this was seen before, it was unprecedented. A YouTube video talking about Jesus going viral was unheard of. This was the beginning of a new era. This was the beginning of Jefferson Bethke.
While the video was hit with intense criticism and still does so today, the message should still hold strong. Even though many people believe Bethke didn’t communicate it very clearly, after we look at what he was trying to say it is hard to believe many Christians would disagree with him. Bethke uses the term “religion” to mean legalism. Religion, in this sense, is having to dress up for church, read your Bible, take communion, helping the poor, and praying nightly to be saved. It’s putting a pretty face on a broken body. As Paul Washer has said, “It’s like spraying perfume on a corpse.” This definition of “religion” is used in many pockets of Christianity, with speakers such as Paul Washer, Matt Chandler, and Mark Driscoll using it in this way. Bethke is using this definition to create a stark distinction between this religion and what Jesus came to do.
All the reasons my peers oppose Jesus are the same reasons Jesus opposed both the hyperfundamentalist and the fake… He opposed the self-righteous Pharisees, but think about how his preaching repels people who want to wear the cross and not live it. In the book of Mark, Jesus is feeding four thousand people with only a few loaves of bread and some fish. You can imagine the crowd’s awe and enjoyment. Jesus was becoming a rock star. You better believe he would have had TMZ following him at this point.
From there he goes and heals a man at Bethsaida. Everyone sees Jesus’ power and wants more. So what does he do? Does he revel in the attention? Leverage his fame as an evangelistic tool? Ask people to bow their heads and close their eyes and raise their hands for him?
He actually does the opposite. He says, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.”
If Jesus wanted to grow a church, didn’t he know telling people they need to daily pick up an instrument of torture, death, and shame wasn’t the way to do it? Jesus opposed the pharisaical legalism of his time, but he also opposed the watered-down, flimsy, cultural religion. He was essentially saying, “I know my miracles are awesome. I know I have immense power. But don’t follow me for the wrong reason. The cost is high. The road to follow me is tough, it’s painful, it hurts, and you might even face death, but I promise there is joy on the other side. Do you want in?”
So as we see, he uses religion in this way because of his experience with working with others. In Jesus > Religion, Bethke talks about how as he talked to fellow college students, no one liked religion. People he talked to loved Jesus and what he stood for, but hated the idea of fixing themselves to get to heaven. Most of the people Bethke spoke with already had negative connotations when religion was mentioned, but when he started talking about Jesus everyone opened up and were a lot more favorable towards Jesus. This set the stage for the spoken word and then this book.
Throughout the different chapters, Bethke addresses and recognizes different problems people go through with Christianity and what new believers may be dealing with when grappling with the faith. There is a lot of great information and stories throughout this entire book, but that is not why it is so good. This book is one of a kind because of how unique it is. There is no other book out there that speaks to the current generation in this way. This is a book that isn’t by a pastor, theologian, or professor. This is a book by a young radical Christian. I believe this book will do a lot of good in the world and many people will grow in leaps and bounds by this book.
When we are single we need to learn how to commit ourselves to Jesus, so that when we are married we know how to be committed to our beautiful wife =)
Whenever God works in my life or when I feel convicted by something, I get moved by God. I may go a week or so without feeling convicted or not seeing anything miraculous happen, so my thoughts start to drift like a small cute boy down a dark alley. As he walks you can make him out less and less. But the alley is only dark when the sun is down. As soon as the Son rises and his light shines, my thoughts and intentions return to where there were destined to be.
Last weekend I went on a mini-camping trip with friends from college. As I uploaded the photos to my computer I saw a trend in the pictures with me in them. I felt like I was slightly showing off. Just slightly, nothing major. Then God, with his impeccable timing, made the next sliding photo not a photo at all, but a video.
Two of my friends and I were playing a game appropriately titled Jump Ball, in where a football is thrown up in the air and the ones playing all jump for the ball and try to catch it. It is an all out brawl. Then add in dirty lake water it is even better. Now I know I get into anything sports related. Well scratch that
"anything sports related." I get into anything competition oriented. I always justify myself for getting excited and “into” the game by saying that I am enjoying the game the way God would have wanted me to. I truly believe that God knew sports would be invented when he made us and he was excited for them to start! Sports and competition bring a side of us out that doesn’t normally. A lot of the time we are sweating adrenaline thinking we are a young Lebron James, but normally we are just look like an ADHD version of ourselves - I’m not saying ADHD is bad in anyway, I think it’s a lot of fun.
Just some harmless fun, but as God reveals the blinded sin in our lives we see that it isn’t so harmless at all. As I watched the video play back I saw myself for who I truly was. I heard the words I said and not that anything I said or did would have been frowned upon on late night television, but it was that I was trying to be encouraging and loving, but I was truly failing.
What I’m learning is that God calls us to humble ourselves: Mind, Soul, and Body. There shouldn’t be one aspect of ourselves that we don’t submit to God and allow him to use. I don’t know what I would have done in that situation if I got a chance to repeat it, but I do know I would have rather just remained quiet.
It is over and done with so I shouldn’t dwell in what I should have done or what I could have said. I have to live with the reality of what I did and what God showed me. It wasn’t a punishment showing me what I did or the way I felt about it, it was a blessing. As God reveals to us our sin, he is showing us how we can become more like him.
He is loving us.
Think about this, God created everything! So in making everything he made things to work a proper way and WE all went and messed that up. As we messed up God called that Sin. God hates sin because God is good, he can’t be around anything that is not good and anything that is not good can’t get close to God. That’s just the way it works, it’s like oil and water. However, God loved us so much he pursued us to all lengths possible. He sent Jesus down to live a perfect life, die for all of us so that all the wrath that was to be poured out onto us was poured out onto Christ. He took your penalty and adopted you with his life. It is the greatest show of true love overcoming death. Because of all of this We are now his sons and daughters, being a part of his family we acquire his Spirit to do “things greater than” Jesus himself.
""The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, 268 and 1 Corinthians 15:26
And that is what Jesus did for us, Destroyed death!
"God is something like a combination Diving Butler and Cosmic Therapist: he is always on call, takes care of any problems when they arise, professionally helps his people to feel better about themselves, and does not become too personally involved in the process"
According to Melinda Lundquist Denton this is how most people see God today. We, people who believe in God, don’t live as if he exist. We will say he does and even attend Church on occasion. But, when it comes to living differently or being a disciple we don’t seem to understand it. When our desires are for this world, we aren’t living for God. If you look at what you want right now if it is not to Glorify God and become more like Him, which both happens in thousands of different ways, you should look at what it means to be a Christian. Jesus calls us to do absolutely crazy things. He calls us to look at his Word and do it. It’s not like once you become a Christian you just know what God wants you do to. No, he wrote you a love letter so you can understand what he wants. It is just like a marriage. Anyone can do awesome things as a husband, but if he isn’t doing what his wife wants him to do he isn’t doing it right. To figure out what she wants, he would have to talk to her. Talk to God and read his love letter to you and change your life with help from the Holy Spirit.
“One of the virtues I appreciate most in others, and it’s a virtue I hope I have in some measure, is teachability. Are you willing to change your mind when another person’s case has more merit than yours? Are you able to hear good advice when it comes from some mouth other than your own and may even contradict your preconceived ideas? Are you willing to admit “I didn’t think of that” or “I see your point”? If no one has ever heard you change your mind about something, then you are either a god or you have mistaken yourself for one. I can say without a doubt that I make better decisions when I consult with my wife. I make better decision with the elders than without them. I am wiser when I listen to my friends first.” – Kevin DeYoung
Would you say you are teachable? For me it is one of the most prized virtues in today’s world. If we are not teachable we think way too highly of ourselves. But, Christ did not live like this. Paul did not even live like this. He claimed to be the sinner of all sinners. Paul said this when he was an awesome guy spreading the Gospel; many theologians believe that we all need to see ourselves as the sinner of all sinners to be able to live in a Christian community.
Think about it, if you are not the worse sinner, then you are “better” than others. This is a non-Biblical idea that needs to be thrown out. None of us are better than any other person, when we talk about sin. When we see ourselves as the worse sinner then we are able to pray for others and see God’s grace more, in hand, become more like Christ.
Yesterday, I said how I was in a campus ministry and how we are a striving community. We most certainly are teachable and loving, too. I wouldn’t say that for everyone, but we have designed our campus ministry to be build around small groups, in order to allow discussion and Bible study. It has worked incredibly because most people go in knowing to be teachable.
As the semester draws to an end, it is good for us to look back over the year and see all the goodness that took place. I can honestly say this has been one of the best years of my life, if not THE best. Last summer I went to The Philadelphia Project where I was able to help people and excite youth groups. It was incredible! Then, leaving there, I came back to IUP where from the first week of classes we all knew something was different. A campus ministry of about 15 people jumped to around 75 over the course of the year. And do not think I am just impressed by the numbers. The numbers mean nothing. The seeds that were planted 7 months ago are blossoming and that is what we are to rejoice about! In addition to all of this I began dating my beautiful girlfriend on October 3rd. Our relationship has been incredible! I cannot see myself with anyone else and I love how she challenges my growth and pushes me closer to God.
With all that said I am not even scratching the surface. There are a lot of opportunities on the horizon to allow this summer to be even more incredible than the last, but for totally different reasons! I cannot hold in my excitement for all that is going on in my life. But, I am not here to brag.
This, everything shown above, had nothing to do with me. Yes, I am a leader in the campus ministry and I was half of my relationship with my beautiful girlfriend, but in all honesty, none of it was me. It was all God. Every ounce of everything was Him! There was no way, in all of heaven and earth, that I would be a part of The Philadelphia Project and do as well as I did, that the campus ministry would explode in the manner in which it did, and there is no possible way a confusing bro, such as I, could get such an amazing girlfriend if it were not all for God. God had his hand on all of this and all of us! All of the glory goes to Him!
I will admit, I tried to take control of my life a lot of the time, but it all resulted in failure. There is nothing I can do. Every time we mess up we have to realize that if we do not have God then that would be our state of being all the time. It is because of God that we do anything good at all. It is because of Him all the lives were changed for eternity this semester. It is because of Him that Love is blossoming on this campus. It is because of Him that I love.
Eric Metaxas, coming off writing a New York Times Bestsellers Bonhoeffer, writes 7 short biographies about men who should inspire us to go out and be better people. These are 7 people who are role models for our world or who, at the least, should be role models. These 7 men all gave up something great for the betterment of the people around them. Metaxas urges us to be like these men in our daily lives and to respect the good in people. He focuses a lot on the good things these people do because he believes that we focus far too often on the negative aspects of individuals. No one is perfect and we need understand that and give them grace.
The 7 men listed are: George Washington, William Wilberforce, Eric Liddell, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Jackie Robinson, Pope John Paul II, Charles W. Colson.
This past summer I read Bonhoeffer and absolutely loved it. When I had an opportunity to read this book, I jumped on it. Metaxas is a beautiful writer and he is very poetic in the way in which he writes. As you start reading you will not want to stop. Each biography is designed like a novel and you will want to eat up page after page, not wanting to put the book down. As you go into it, as a reader, you should look at these people and understand that we have something to learn from them. Let their life impact yours to make you a better person.
I would say this book is best for those who are new to biographies and want to garner some knowledge about some great individuals. Biographies are some of the best books you may ever read.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
This morning, like some others, I opened my Bible up to the Psalms. Today was Psalm 63 and it has become one of my favorite Psalms. Check this out.
Verse 1: O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
Did you see that? What is happening here?
Do you ever think that you even miss God? David earnestly seeks, thirsts, and faints for God. This is a man of great distress, but he isn’t like us and just prays and waits until God does something.
Verse 2-4: SO I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. SO I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands.
David responds to his faint soul: He
This is so cool. David is giving us a way to respond to the rough times. He doesn’t tell you to meet up for a one-on-one or to read this book by this guy. No, he tells us how it is done.
Verse 5-8: My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.
David continues with more things to do. Take Note!
Then the kicker. Verse 8: My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.
My soul CLINGS to you;
I just think of a a little ant holding onto a giant rock in the midst of a storm. The little ant has just one little hand still on, and then…
your right hand upholds me.
God is like, “Here you go little guy here is some help. I’m going to give you Jesus!” And then life becomes a never ending Christmas and Easter!
God is incredible! Love it! Have a blessed day everyone!