Category Archives: Church Life

how do you follow jesus

The people in your life aren’t expecting you to articulate every nuance of what you believe. In fact, most of them aren’t even asking, “How do you follow Jesus?” Rather, they are asking, “How do you follow Jesus?’

You can answer the first question in an e-mail. Or in a book. But you can only answer the second question by living your life in front of them. By waking up again tomorrow and making choice after gritty choice to take Jesus up on his invitation to follow him.

Jason Mitchell, No Easy Jesus, p.199

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when we practice, we change

As we have explored these tough choices (earlier chapters in this book, the purpose hasn’t been to convince you to agree in principle with any of them. The purpose is to promote action. Agreeing in principle allows us to remain as passive spectators to the life that Jesus is inviting us into. The call of the real Jesus is for us to move and participate in these new ways of living.

Jason Mitchell, No Easy Jesus, p.184

In a 2004 article titled “Live More Musically,” journalist Andy Crouch explores the differences between purchasing music and practicing music, which he compares to “playing a CD [or] playing a fugue.” One of his main points is that we experience different levels of satisfaction with music we’ve learned to play through long hours of sacrifice than with music we’ve merely purchased.

[T]he music we purchase delivers almost all of its satisfaction up front. In other words, we’ll never be happier with a product we’ve purchased than when we use it for the first time. After that, our satisfaction level tends to go down.

But when we learn to play a musical instrument, the satisfaction curve moves in the opposite direction. During the early stages, there is little enjoyment. (Not just for us, but even more so for those who have to endure our attempts to blow air through a brass instrument or draw a bow across strings.) But if we make the choice to grit it out and keep practicing, in time something beautiful will happen. What at first were discordant noises will eventually become distinguishable notes. And those notes will eventually become phrases, melody, music.

“But when we practice, we change.”

Jason Mitchell, No Easy Jesus, p.188-9


put flesh and blood on Jesus

Nothing puts flesh and blood on Jesus in our world more than loving others for who they are, not just loving who we want them to be.

Isn’t that the plot of the gospel? God’s relentless love towards us is demonstrated by his sacrifice while we were still an absolute mess. The apostle Paul says that Christ died for us “while we were still sinners.” He freely gave his love for us even though we wanted nothing to do with him. There were no conditions to his love, no fine print. And even if there were never any change in our lives, not even an ounce of acknowledgment of his love, he would still love us the same way.

We need to ask ourselves a difficult question: Can we, will we, walk the same path as Jesus and love the people around us while they are still sinners? If we’re serious about following Jesus by loving others, it means loving the people around us for who they are today, not just loving who we want them to become someday.

Jason Mitchell, No Easy Jesus, p.172


compassion requires reaction

Compassion requires reaction.

That’s what the world needs – our presence as well as our prayers. People who are struggling and in need aren’t looking for pity. They’re looking for care and concern that act on their behalf – for people who will not only pray from a distance, but who will also be willing to draw so close to them that our shirts might get stained.

Jason Mitchell, No Easy Jesus, p. 66


loving, doing good, blessing, and praying

It’s worth taking a look in order to understand the powder keg that Jesus ignites here.

(Jason Mitchell is discussing the content of See Luke 6:27 and 28.)

“Love . . .”

We have all sorts of ideas about what it means to love, and most of them revolve around feelings. The word translated as love in this passage, however, is light-years away from sentimentality. For Jesus, love is an action-oriented, sacrificial, work-up-a-sweat commitment to do what’s right for another person. This kind of love proves itself in a willingness to give until it hurts.

“Do good . . . “

The word translated as good in this passage is tied to the Greek word kalos, which carries with it the idea of pursuing what is “right and beautiful.” So when Jesus talks about “doing good,” he is describing a kind of life in which we make right what is wrong. It’s a life centered on bringing beauty to what has been marred and broken.

“Bless . . .”

The ideas of blessing someone is pretty straightforward, It’s a translation of the Greek work eulogeo, which literally means “to speak good words” about someone.

“Pray for . . .”

In the New Testament, the word pray is tied to the idea of well-wishing. In the context of this passage, when Jesus tells us to pray he is talking about desiring the best for someone. We desire God’s favor for the people we pray for, wanting them to flourish.

My guess is that we all would agree that loving, doing good, blessing, and praying are all good ways to live. The tension comes from who Jesus says should be the recipients of these actions.

  • Love . . . your enemies.
  • Do good . . . to those who hate you.
  • Bless . . . those who curse you.
  • Pray for . . . those who hurt you.

So ask yourself, who is my enemy?

Jason Mitchell, No Easy Jesus, p. 46-47


follow to encounter

The truth is, we will never encounter the real Jesus until we go beyond merely believing in him and actually start following him. Yes, it’s much harder to follow that to merely believe. But following is the only route to the rich and satisfying life we desire.

Jason Mitchell, No Easy Jesus forward, page 24.


beliefs or delusions

The truth is beliefs that have no connection to reality, even if they’re sincere, aren’t beliefs at all; they’re delusions.

Kyle Idleman, No Easy Jesus forward, page x.


worst trade ever

We swapped the glory of the eternal God for a fabricated greatness we’ve forged on our own, one that never seems to be enough. We were created to image God, to resemble and reflect his glory, but we’ve seen it, suppressed it, and sold it, and now we’re left with an emptiness that nothing else can fill.

That’s the problem of sin. We’ve gotten rid of the very thing that gives us lasting pleasure.

Jonathan Parnell, Never Settle For Normal, p. 50

 


obedience asks more of us than we are

if obedience is not asking more of us that we are, then it won’t lead us to more of Jesus. Obedience that doesn’t need him won’t have him. But really, there’s no such thing as obedience like that.

Jonathan Parnell, Never Settle For Normal, p. 124

 


don’t skip steps

To further illustrate faith-sized requests, I’d like to give you the experience of a married couple who moved into a new neighborhood. One of the first requests Mary and Jack made was, “Lord, we’d like to get acquainted with our neighbors, and if they don’t know You personally as their Saviour, we’d like to introduce them to You.”

That was a fine request and right in line with what Cod wanted to do. But it was the description of a goal to be reached, not a step to take. They got down to business then, and took the first step.

“Lord,” prayed Jack, “I’d like to meet the fellow living next door in some casual way and begin to get acquainted with him. I’d like to begin today, and I believe You can arrange it for me. Thank you, Lord.” Mary agreed with Jack in her prayer, and gave thanks with Him.

The morning had scarcely turned to afternoon when the answer came. Their children got into a quarrel over a tricycle with the neighbor’s children. Both fathers rushed to the scene. Jack took all the blame for his children, and put out his hand, “I’m Jack M., just moved in, glad to meet you.” The first request had been answered. The first step had been taken.

The second step: “Lord, I’d like to know what that man is interested in, so we could become friends.” The answer came within two days. He was interested in football.

The third step: “Lord, I need two complimentary football tickets, and could I have them by this weekend, please.” The tickets came. The friendship grew.

The fourth step: “Lord, I’d like to invite this new friend to the Bible class I teach a few miles from here. Would You put it in his heart to accept when I ask him to go with me tonight?” He accepted. All the way over as they drove, they talked about football. All the way home they talked about Jesus Christ, and what it meant for Him to become one of us . . . God became a Man.

The fifth step: “Lord, Mary and I would like to invite my friend and his wife to our home some evening this week and have a little talk and Bible reading together.” The friends came, and they read and talked quietly together.

The sixth step, “Lord, next week when I ask them over again, will You prepare their hearts, so that they will be ready to accept You as their Saviour? I believe this is the time to ask for this, and I thank you for all You’ll be doing in the meantime to draw them to Yourself.” When the next week came, the neighbors willingly and gladly accepted Jesus Christ.

This method also works in matters of guidance about getting a job, taking a trip, buying or selling a house, getting married, writing a book, or anything you may think of yourself, large or small.

Rosalind Rinker, Prayer – Conversing with God, page 71-72.