Instead of looking FOR our mission field — maybe we should look AT our mission field.
Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” Mark 4:38 NIV
I have been told that the stern is the strongest part of the boat. The Creator of the universe was asleep there.
The One who made the waters and was there when the waters were parted; who led Moses as Moses led the people through on dry ground — that same One had His head on a cushion — sleeping soundly.
The One who walked with three guys in the fiery furnace — in all of His current humanity — had decided He needed some rest.
The disciples, however, had apparently lost sight of the fact that, Jesus was not only human — not only needing rest — He was also God. Creator. Master.
The One who was asleep was never out of control. He was never without a plan. (It was His idea to get in the boat.)
I am reminded that I forget the same thing at times. I accuse Jesus of not caring. Of not being aware of my current situation.
No, I don’t say that — at least not very loud. I have too much respect for the Creator to do that. So, I just mumble it under my breath — or think it loudly — as if He who reads the heart doesn’t already know.
Have you ever felt like the disciples felt?
Have you ever wondered if Jesus cared?
Has the thought crossed your mind that Jesus might not even be aware of your current situation?
Have you thought, “Jesus, I see my problems, don’t you?”
Or maybe, if you are completely honest, have you ever felt something like, “Jesus, don’t you care?”
Of course, our spiritual piety would never allow us to admit our weakness in this area fully. Could I as a pastor really admit that I doubted His love?
Yet if I am honest, sometimes from my perspective, it appears that Jesus is nowhere to be found when I need Him most and I am left all alone to wallow in my sorrows.
Did I just say that?
I think the best thing we can possibly do in those situations is to be like the disciples and admit our frailty to God.
And, here’s the truth we may know but not always live.
When we get gut honest with Jesus about our insufficiency — is often when He is most willing to do what only He can do.
Years ago I became fascinated with the questions of Jesus.
It occurred to me that if Jesus was asking a question it must be an important one.
In fact, depending on our response, they could be life-changing questions.
I realize that in the culture in which Jesus lived asking questions was a method of learning, but Jesus always knew the answers. He didn’t need to ask them. He IS the answer. What does He need to know?
His questions were to cause His listeners to think. And, they do.
Consider some of these 7 questions of Jesus.
“Do you believe that I am able to do this?” (Matthew 9:28)
“Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” (Matthew 8:26)
“What do you think about the Christ?” (Matthew 22:42)
“Do you love me?” (John 21:17)
“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’, and not do what I tell you?” (Luke 6:46)
“What do you want me to do for you?” (Luke 18:41)
“Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3)
To which of these do you most need to consider your answer?
I only read one statement of Jesus, but I couldn’t go any further in my reading.
It was a statement I had read hundreds of times before, but this time it hit me differently. Deeper. More impacting.
I love when that happens.
I realized I often take a statement like that from Jesus for granted.
Jesus — the Son of God — said something. Something so profound, so life-giving, and yet it has become so familiar to me that I almost gloss over it when I read.
This time I stopped.
I stopped and thought about the many other truths Jesus shared — often in a single sentence — which are life-changing.
Perhaps some of these will be meaningful to you.
Read through the list — memorize a few of them (you probably already have many of them.) But, don’t read them as familiar quotes that are usually written in red. Let them soak deep into your heart and mind. Let them add life to you. Be better with truth.
“Take heart, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
“The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few” (Matthew 9:37)
“Go and learn what this means ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice'” (Matthew 9:13)
“Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven” (Matthew 9:2)
“Ask and it will be given to you…” (Matthew 7:7)
“If the Son has set you free you are free indeed” (John 8:36)
“For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:30)
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
“You are the light of the world” (Matthew 6:14)
“Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5)
“The greatest among you shall be your servant.” (Matthew 23:11)
“Take heart, it is I. Do not be afraid.” (Matthew 14:27)
“I am coming soon” (Revelation 22:7)
“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)
“If you love me you will obey what I command” (John 14:15)
“Your give them something to eat” (Mark 6:37)
“A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit” (Matthew 7:18)
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you” (Acts 1:8)
“This people honors me with their lips but their heart is far from me.” (Mark 7:6)
“You will be my witnesses” (Acts 1:8)
“Do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink…” (Matthew 6:25)
“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do to them” (Matthew 7:12)
“I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
“This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” (John 6:29)
“It is finished.” (John 19:30)
I realize some of these can be misunderstood if out of context, so feel free to read the context of each of them. But, the fact is these are things Jesus said.
The Son of God — who is God — said them. Spoke them. Revealed truth to us.
And, every word He said has life-changing value.
I wonder, if we really understood the magnitude of these words of Jesus and believed them — if they would change the way we lived our life? The confidence we have? The assurance in which we find hope?
Which of these do you most need to apply to your life today?
After years mentoring younger leaders, there is something all of us leaders with more experience need to know.
Every young leader shares some common fears.
Granted, I’ve mostly worked with young male leaders (and I am the parent of boys), but I suspect these fears aren’t gender exclusive.
And, they aren’t talked about much — or even admitted — the pressure to perform often keeps us from admitting fear — but they are real fears.
Am I good enough?
Have I got what it takes?
What happens if I fail?
Common, legitimate fears.
Do you want to make a difference in the life of a young leader? Help them answer these questions — in the affirmative.
Help them believe in themselves. Help them discover that inner strength — that God-given grace — that God-given talent — that helps them weather any storm and overcome any obstacle that may get in the way of being all God has called them to be.
Seasoned leaders, this is a great pursuit for us. Find the young leaders who need to hear our words of affirmation. Something tells me we can help build a future. And — in the process — we will leave a legacy.
The Christmas season can be hard on relationships. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve met with a couple after the holidays because of problems that developed — or were exaggerated — between Thanksgiving and New Years.
How can you protect your marriage this Christmas? That’s a good goal, right?
Plan a budget together. Stick to it. There will often be one spender and one saver in a relationship. Or two spenders. The principle is this: Don’t spend in December what you’re going to regret in January. Be wise on the front end.
Protect your family first. Even if that means saying no to some extended family events or time with friends, put your immediate family needs ahead of other obligations. Have time together as a family. (For years we did this wrong — and we regretted it later. It wasn’t until our boys were in high school and they could voice that they wanted more time with just us.) As a couple, agree on where you’ll spend your time before you spend your time anywhere this holiday season. You may have to support each other with the spouse’s families. (Wives speak to their families. Husbands speak to their families.)
Build traditions that build family. We often get distracted by things that matter less. Find a way to celebrate the reason for the season together. It could be reading the Christmas story or serving at a homeless shelter or annually letting Linus from Charlie Brown’s Christmas remind you of the true meaning of Christmas as you watch it together. The baby, who is a Savior, has been born — He is Christ the Lord. Lead your family to celebrate Christmas — the real Christmas — and you’ll enjoy it even more.
When tension is outside don’t let it reign inside. The Christmas season can be so busy. It’s hard to be everywhere we are expected to be. It seems emotions run abnormally high this time of year. People who don’t see each other often are in close quarters with one another. It can lead to tense relations. There’s often tension in the stores and on the streets. Decide now that nothing will distract you from the closeness you have as a couple. Make this a celebration season that grows your heart stronger as a couple.
Just a few suggestions. Any you have?