Monthly Archives: July 2013

Do What Jesus Said: A Review

In a world largely dissatisfied with empty ‘religion’, we’ve looked at just a dozen sayings of Jesus. The premise is that we can change the world if we were to devote our lives to turning to Jesus and asking Him to help us just do what He said:

        • Love God and Love Others
        • Love our enemies
        • Stop judging people (that is God’s job)
        • Become like children
        • Stop being anxious
        • Serve others
        • Feed the hungry (look at the world through the eyes of Jesus)
        • Forgive Others (and ourselves)
        • Deny Self
        • Accept the help of the Holy Spirit
        • Make disciples who make disciples
        • Stay awake

There are many other things that Jesus said:

    • Let your light shine (Matthew 5:6)
    • Live abundantly (John 10:10)
    • Come to me for rest (Matthew 11:28)
    • And so much more!

Want to love and live life to the fullest? It doesn’t have to be complicated. Just do what Jesus said. And watch your light shine!

Do What Jesus Said: Stay Awake

Jesus said, “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” Matthew 24:42-44

Have you ever noticed how the media will say focused on one story for a very long time after the story appears to be done and over? In fact, you may have wondered, is there anything else going on in the world? In the passage above Jesus is talking about THE story of all time, and the story that it seems no one wants to talk about. Bring it up and you might find confusion or apathy, as if to say, “That will be a great day but I hope it doesn’t come before the end of the World Series!” Or you might find that people respond with outright anger. (It seems everyone believes in God but not many want to deal with Jesus, who Is God.)

I like the way David Jeremiah describes the end of the world’s story as described in the book of Revelation: the whole purpose of the book is to get ready and help others get ready.

In business we say, “Start with the end in mind.” In other words, always keep your eye on the end goal. I wonder how many mornings we ask with anticipation, “Will THIS be the day?” Jesus says, stay awake and keep watch. Don’t be taken by surprise.

An invitation … If you have never asked Jesus into your life to be Lord and Savior, you can right now. Aloud or silently in your heart, by yourself or with someone, in a quiet place or in the middle of a noisy city… Tell Him that you are tired of trying to make things work in your own power. Tell Him you are sorry for the things you have done that hurt Him and went against His Word. Tell Him you want HIM to be in control of your life now and forever. Then if you want to grow as a fully devoted follower, tell a mature believer about your decision and set up a plan that will help you follow Jesus and do what He said.

Do What Jesus Said: Make Disciples

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. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

People who are good at what they do and who want to be better seek mentors. Every fine musician, artist, writer, politician, athlete, preacher, parent, or business leader who wants to perfect their skills seeks out someone who has the ability and authority on which to base their teaching. In business and life, all my mistakes I readily made on my own. All my successes came directly or indirectly from the one who has ALL authority. And this authority gives all fully committed Christians a command: Go make disciples. Teach them to obey all my commands: love God, love others.

“The Great Commission” is pretty straight forward. It doesn’t leave room for argument. He didn’t qualify it by saying, “those of you who are gifted at teaching, or those of you who are bold and outgoing.” Jesus said, “If you want to follow me, do what I say: make disciples.”

People who love Jesus are great disciple makers. Go Light Your World works through a local Gypsy church in Vetren, Bulgaria. The Leader, Pastor Kashif is not trained in the seminary. He just loves Jesus and so he has discipled other gypsies to worship Jesus in the local church. One of these men who is growing in the faith is now an elder of the church and in charge of the self-sufficiency project aimed at breaking the cycle of dependency and poverty in the gypsy village. A man here in Newton who came from a jail environment loves Jesus and disciples others currently in jail.

One of the most effective methods I have discovered is simply to invite someone to your house to study the bible. Read it together and let the Holy Spirit be your guide. Invite another mature believer to join you so the responsibility of leading is shared. We invited several people from work years ago to come to a nonthreatening and nonjudgmental noon time study of The Purpose Driven Life and let the group lead the discussion. Some of them followed up by doing a study of the gospel of John together.

Fully committed followers of Jesus make disciples who make disciples. Don’t be afraid. Jesus promised He will always be with you. Do what he said: make disciples, and see how much you grow yourself.

Do What Jesus Said: Accept the Spirit

Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” John 14:15-17

If I could go back and change one thing in my life, I would have discovered and pursued a relationship with the Holy Spirit much sooner. Instead of huffing and puffing my way through self effort and limited knowledge I would have sought the perfect help Jesus offered. Instead of getting to know God primarily intellectually, I would have accepted His free hand to come know Him more intimately. (It is a process even now.)

If there is one thing missing in the lives of Christians and in too many churches today it is the absence of the power of the Holy Spirit. This free gift, the absolute representation of Jesus Christ is available to all who call upon Him. Imagine being able to receive perfect counsel every time you ask, the exact comfort you need every time you turn to Him, and real power to overcome the difficulties of life at your fingertips. I’m pretty sure if the Holy Spirit were into the stock market or the knowledge of picking the correct lotto ticket we would all pursue Him avidly!

But we largely ignore the Holy Spirit, maybe because the idea seems so spooky. After all, we referred to Him as the Holy Ghost when I was growing up. Maybe we just have difficulty with the concept of talking directly to a loving God we don’t see with our eyes. Maybe we are just too busy. Maybe we just think we can do just as well on our own.

But we don’t. We read the bible, we listen to sermons, we take notes and try to apply them to our lives. We work hard to be better and better when we have time. But we don’t get very far before we realize it is a lot of effort without much results. THAT is why Jesus gave us His Spirit, because we can’t be Christ’s disciples in our own power. It is like shadow boxing: we wear ourselves out beating at the air.

Asking Jesus to be Lord of your life comes with not only the gift of eternal life later but real power now. And that power is the power of the gospel revealed to us by the Holy Spirit…at work, at home, in the marketplace, and in all arenas of Our lives. Do what Jesus said: receive the Holy Spirit and nurture a relationship with Him. It will transform your life.

Do What Jesus Said: Deny Self

Would you believe the key to an abundant life is actually to DENY self? In fact it is a prerequisite for being a real Christian. Here is what Jesus said:
“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.”

When I was a young child in the Episcopal church the Lenten season meant giving up something for forty days. This was to serve as an example of denying self. I wanted to give up canned spinach, but no, it had to be something I liked: TV, candy, my unicycle riding, etc. I never understood how giving up a fairly trivial thing for forty days would make me a better Christian, but I guess it was a start.

What Jesus says is if we want to be more than a church goer, if we actually want to be known as His disciple, we must first deny our very selves and take on His identity. This is a pretty unpopular passage. After all, none of us like to give up stuff we’ve worked to accumulate. We certainly don’t like the idea of changing our life. But think of it this way. What if denying self meant giving up things we think bring us joy but don’t really?

  • What if we gave up time wasters that don’t add any lasting value to our life and picked up fulfillment?
  • What if we gave up worry and picked up peace?
  • What if we gave up disagreeing with everyone and picked up understanding?
  • What if we gave up bitterness and picked up forgiveness?
  • What if we gave up despair and picked up hope?
  • What if we gave up defeat and picked up a victorious life?

In other words, what if we viewed denying self as denying the things that fill up the day but don’t fulfill our lives? I think that is a large part of what Jesus is saying. Do what Jesus said: deny yourself and pick up His love and power. It is both an instant decision that you make and a life long process.

Do What Jesus Said: Forgive each other

Jesus said, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14-15

We all know we are commanded to forgive but do you know it is for your own good? Someone once said, “Not forgiving others is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” Holding back on forgiveness is not just about the other person. Mostly it is about the offended one. Forgiving others keeps bitterness, resentment and anger from poisoning our minds and hearts. I used to be one of those people chained by anger and bitterness. I’ve known some people who would carry this burden for decades, some even carried it to their graves.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. It’s not about waiting until the other person asks to be forgiven or deserves to be forgiven. NONE of us will ever be worthy of the forgiveness God offered us. (“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”) Forgiveness is about extending the love of God to others. But it is also about protecting our heart.

I wonder if sometimes we are needlessly offended. For example, someone who normally is not uncaring is having a bad day (or month or year!). And today they say or do something that offends you. If we’re going to take offense we’re going to have to deal with the forgiveness issue. Maybe we just need to dial our sensitivity shield down a few notches. The same principle could be applied to people who are always in a bad mood, always inconsiderate and offensive. Couldn’t we just write these comments off and let our shield of faith ward off those angry darts? We probably won’t be able to change this person, but we don’t have to let their attacks land on us. Better to just let them roll off us.

I don’t normally follow much news about the pope, but one recent article* caught my eye. A shipwreck of African migrants off the coast of a small Mediterranean island was hardly noticed by the world but it grabbed the attention of Pope Francis. Casting a memorial wreath into the waters in honor of those who died, the pope made a poignant comment that should reach the heart of each of us: “We have fallen into a globalization of indifference.” And then he prayed for forgiveness for the world leaders who have ignored the plight of those who died seeking freedom. Later he tweeted: “We pray for a heart which will embrace immigrants. God will judge us upon how we have treated the most needy,” reflecting Jesus’ call in Matthew 25. (See yesterday’s post.)

As we think about forgiving others, let’s remember we also need to ask forgiveness for our indifference to others.

Original CNN article about the pope may be found at:

Do What Jesus Said: Feed the Hungry…

Jesus said, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” Matthew 25:35-36

The context of this passage (verses 31-46) is Jesus, sitting on His throne, separating out people into two groups: 1) those who fed the hungry and quenched the thirsty, invited in strangers, clothed the naked, looked after the sick, and visited those in prison and 2) those didn’t. The reward for those in group one is eternal life but not for those in group two.

The interesting thing about this is not about good deeds per se. It is about loving Jesus. He says, “For I was hungry, I was thirsty.” The second group protested, saying “But WHEN did we see you hungry, thirsty, etc). Jesus replies, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Jesus so loves us that He associates our pain and suffering with His own. We don’t simply minister to others because they have needs. But when we minister to others we minister to our Lord.

We realized this when we first started mission trips to post Katrina New Orleans. Confronted with miles and miles of destruction, the overwhelming immensity of the needs was immediately apparent. We had the same revelation working with the local church in Bolivia: so much desperate need and so little resources. But the objective was not simply to help people. The objective was to love those Jesus loves and so show it in practical ways.

Someone said, “Think globally, act locally.” The way I see it we must do both. Who do you know who needs practical encouragement (resources, time, compassion)? Perhaps they aren’t actually hungry or thirsty in the physical sense, but you know they are emotionally. Look at people through Jesus’ eyes and you will see a very different world than the one you have been looking at.

Are you partnering with a reputable nonprofit agency to minister to others in Jesus’ name across the globe? Go Light Your World supports a mission in Bolivia that provides a hot meal, showers, literacy programs, well child clinic, and worship and prayer for about $2 per day per person. And also literacy and self sufficiency education for Gypsy children in Bulgaria. (See Giving link above.) Compassion International and World Vision are two large nonprofits that rescue moms and children from trafficking and cycles of dependency and abuse. Prison Fellowship helps care for children and families of the incarcerated. We have so much to give and so many ways to let our light shine while doing what Jesus said. Don’t wait. Start today. Ask God to show you the world through His eyes.

“I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything; but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.” Author, Edward Everett Hale

Do What Jesus Said: Serve Others

“The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” – Matthew 23:11-12

Serving others isn’t just what we do. It is a matter of growing our heart. It involves looking out not only for our own interests but also the interests of others (Philippians 2:3-4). If you are a supervisor of 20 people, you are also called to serve those 20 people. S/he who is called to lead many is a servant of many.

Servanthood should not be mistaken for a doormat. But it definitely involves cultivating a humble heart. In all of scripture the message is consistent. Those who humble themselves before God and man will be lifted up. The prideful will always find their downfall.

Only the servant leader will be able to integrate spiritual and worklife. (In reality it IS only one life and it cannot be divided into components.) Only the servant leader will be able to manage leading a cause and maintaining spiritual integrity. Only those who serve can find holiness in everyday life. I like the way former Fortune 500 CEO and consultant James Autry describes it in his book, The Servant Leader:
“I’d read a lot of the stuff about how the journey is the destination and how growing spiritually is in the very process of spiritual growth, but I had managed to put that in some kind of compartment, as if spiritual growth was part of the list of things to do, stuck somewhere in there with cleaning the gutters and mowing the lawn: “Okay, I’ve grown spiritually, now where’s the hedge trimmer?”
It took a while but I finally got it: What I’d read was not about adding a spiritual growth compartment to my life but trying to live all my life with the daily consciousness of a potential for holiness in everything and with the realization that everything I do is part of something larger.
I realized that my spiritual journey, my connection with the sacred, could include such unlikely things as cleaning the gutters, mowing the lawn, trimming the hedge, changing diapers, doing the laundry, cooking meals, and even buying panty liners for my wife. (BT: reference to funny story earlier in the chapter) Of course, it’s easier in some places and with some activities than with others. For instance, working in my greenhouse or garden will always give me a holiness fix when I need it. Still, it’s possible anywhere.
Am I successful every day? Of course not. I still become impatient and frustrated. I still give in to just getting through the list and checking things off. But at least I am aware of when I’m falling short of my intentions, and I have come to believe that awareness of those failings may even be more important in the longer journey.”

BT: Servanthood isn’t just what we do. It is who we become in our journey to loving God and loving others. What can you do this week to nurture your servant heart?

Do What Jesus Said: Do Not Be Anxious About Your Life

“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” – Matthew 6:24-27, 33-34

I admit, this passage is sometimes difficult for me. There have been a number of times in this journey through Leukemia that I have been anxious about my condition, my pain, and sometimes my future. And yet each day, God would bring me back to His promises, His protection, and His provision for me. And never has He abandoned me.

It’s hard to bring light to the world if we are anxious about things like money, clothing, food, etc. And it is not just that worry is useless (it changes nothing except causing us stress). The other, larger problem is that these worrisome things tend to rule our lives. Jesus says they become our master. We can’t at the same time live by faith and trust in God and also worry about things. It is one or the other.

Christians, what positive impact do we have on the world if we worry and fret and are in fact ruled by the same things as those who don’t know Jesus? If our lives are preoccupied with fulfilling our own pleasures we end up looking a lot like the world, entrapped in darkness. And where is the hope in that? It is not a matter of what we possess, but rather what possesses us. Let’s let Jesus who is The Light of the World shine in and through us. Let’s do what Jesus said: Do not be anxious about your life. What worry owns you? Why not give it up and seek first (and always) the kingdom of God. You’ll be better for it and so will those around you.

Doing What Jesus Said: Become Like Children

I write each post primarily to remind myself how I need to live my life each day. In this series on Do What Jesus Said, I am also writing to the community who profess to be Christians (though I believe there is value for all of us in these writings). It is to our – and the world’s – neglect when  we call ourselves followers of Christ but give little regard to living out what Jesus told us to do. “We are so easily pleased,” (and distracted) CS Lewis would say. But the truths that Jesus spoke are meant both to convict us and to transform us. Only then can we be “the light of the world.”

“And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 18:2-4

Jesus was always enthralled with the little ones and their honesty and humility of faith. He said, no matter what knowledge we have and without regard to how many good deeds we did or even prayers we said, we will not enter the kingdom of heaven unless we become like children. Imagine that, heaven filled with a bunch of kids playing and enjoying God forever without adults to interfere and legalize things!

I think one of the things Jesus loved about children was their ability to receive and share love unconditionally. We adults have difficulty with this; there always seems to be strings attached.

One of the principles I tried to pass on while I was in business leadership was to “presume goodness.” Rather than always take the offensive when “that” person spoke up, presume they have a good heart and seek first to understand. If their heart is ill-intended it always comes out on its own. Give love a chance. I am still learning this lesson!

I think another thing about children that captured Jesus’s heart was their ability to imagine a world quite different from the one they live in. Do you still have that gift of imagination? It allows you to see what is unseen and to contemplate a changed world.

Yes we are called to grow up in Christ, to mature as we come to a greater experience of His love for us. At the same time we are to hold onto that childlike faith that believes what is real, but just can’t be seen with the human eye.

That is the kind of faith that works. Keep it simple… Do What Jesus Said: become like a child, spend time with children like Jesus did, and as you teach them gentleness and wisdom and love and compassion, let them teach you about the kingdom of God.