Tuesday, October 30, 2007

desperate faith

I was reading in Mark earlier today and I was totally struck by this whole idea of desperate faith when I read the story of the woman who had been bleeding for 12 years in Mark 5:25-34.

Here was this woman who had been declared unclean by her culture for the last twelve years. She was unable to touch anything or anyone without making it unclean! She had spent all her money on doctors and nothing had gotten better . . . it had gotten worse!!! I mean, can you imagine being in her place?!?!? No one wanted anything to do with her, she wasn't allowed into the Temple to worship God because she was unclean. Her entire world had pushed her aside!

Yet, she hears about Jesus and His power to heal people. She decides that the chance to be healed is wirth whatever it will take to touch Jesus . . . just to touch the clothes He wore. She knows that she will be healed if she does this. And so, she takes the chance!

She goes in amongst the crowd of people around Jesus. And slowly, carefully, makes her way towards Jesus. I imagine out of habit she was being careful not to touch anyone as she walked though the crowd . . . although, even taking the chance of walking through the crowd would not have been appreciated by anyone in the crowd.

But, she was willing to take the chance of touching someone else . . . of someone else's disdain as they saw her and tried to avoid her for the sake of being healed! She had come to such a point of desperation that she was willing to risk everything to get to Jesus! Nothing mattered to her anymore except getting to Jesus and being healed. She had faith that Jesus could heal her and so she took the risk. She was desperate to be healed and so she took the risk!

All this got me thinking about my own life.

What am I desperate enough for that I will risk everything to get it?

What am I dealing with that needs Jesus' healing touch that I am desperate enough to be healed of that I will risk everything to get to Jesus and have Him heal it?

Am I willing to risk my reputation, my pride, the respect of others to get to Jesus to be healed?

Am I desperate enough yet?

As I thought, I very quickly thought of an area in my life where I need Jesus' healing, but I'm not yet sure if I'm desperate enough to risk everything to get that healing. I want to be . . . I think. But, yet, sometimes I feel like I might be OK with that area of my life the way it is. And, yet, I know that I don't want it to remain that way.

Am I willing to ask God to make me desperate enough that I will risk everything to receive healing in that area of my life?

That's a risky prayer to pray!

Do I really want to ask God to do that?

He might not do it the way I would like.

But, I've been inspried by the story of this woman - these few veres in the entire Bible - and her desperate faith that Jesus could heal her. I want that kind of desperate faith. I want to be willing to risk it all to receive Jesus's healing touch!

And, the best part is, when we take that chance and act on that desperate faith . . . Jesus does bring healing!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

taking a break from the term "Christian"

OK, so it's not what you think. But, I've been thinking a lot lately about what is typically associated with the word Christian. Quite often it's pretty negative . . . and not something I want to be associated with.
I find it interesting that we self-identify with the word Christian . . . most of the time without actually thinking about what it means. I think that it has lost some of its original meaning because of many people who identify themselves as Christians without that actually being true. These people don't live according to what the Bible says . . . they may even claim not to believe it, but identify themselves as Christians because their paretns were or because they go to church sometimes.
I also find it interesting that the early church didn't self-identify themselves as Christians . . . it was a name that was given to them by those who didn't believe. Acts 11:26 says: "The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch." The word Christian, here, meaning "Christ-ones". This wasn't a label that they gave themselves, but it was a name that the culture around the early church gave to them.
Up to this point in the history of the early church, Christians had often been called disciples . . . which simply means "learner" or "student". And this is what we are called to be as "Christians". People who are students of God, who are learning and growing to become more like Christ. When the disciples of the early church were first called Christians, people still understood what that meant. The culture around them was recognizing them as people who were learning from and modeling their lives after Jesus Christ. The term Christian still had a meaning that I think is largely missing today.
For these reasons, I'm not a huge fan of the "label" Christian. I don't think it adequtely describes to our world what exactly we are. It has become nothing more than a religious belief, when it should be a relationship where we learn from Christ and live the way He calls us to.
For the time being at least, as my title suggests, I'm choosing to take a break from using this term to self-identify or to talk about other followers of Christ. I would rather define or explain what disciple means than use a term that has lost much of its original intent to identify the way that I live my life. From this point for a while I will refer to myself and to other Christians as followers or disciples of Christ.
While "follower" may not adequately describe things either, I believe it does a better job than "Christian" does right now. And I feel that the words follower and disciple do probably the best job that can be done in describing what we have devoted our lives to.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

interesting quote

OK, so I was driving home today and I saw a sign that said the following:
"In a world full of cheerios, be a froot loop"
I have become accustomed to reading some strange things on this sign, but this one caught my attention tonight.
When I first read it, I started to laugh, because it seemed a little strange. Comparing people to breakfast cereals. I mean really? Who does that?
But then I started to think more about what it could be talking about. If you were to be a froot loop surrounded by cheerios, you would be different from "everyone" around you.
And then I started to think . . . that's what we are to be as followers of Christ (I'm not a huge fan of the term Christian, but that's something for another blog). We are called to be different from the world around us . . . to stand out . . . as a froot loop in a bowl of cheerios would.
Maybe I'm stretching things a little bit, but that's what I was thinking about as I kept driving after seeing that sign. Philippians 2:15 says that we are to "shine like stars in the universe". The world around us should notice us as point to God and hold out His Truth.
So, yeah, that's my thoughts tonight.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

My new blog

So, I've been thinking about starting a blog of my my own for a while, but I've hesititated on doing so because I wasn't sure if I would have anything to say or much time to write anything. I guess I will see how this goes.

I've been thinking a lot about service in the last week or so. It started with putting together some Christmas shoeboxes for Samaritan's purse with my small group. It was really cool and a lot of fun to be able to get together with some people who I haven't known for all that long and put them together. We might have looked a little strange to some people as we walked through the dollar store gathering items. But it was the first time that my small group has really connected sincce we started meeting. it's amazing how doing something like this together can help with that.

The impact that service can have was also emphasized to me a week ago when I was part of a church-wide service project. As a church we spent a Saturday afternoon in the downtown area of Kelowna helping some of the ministries down there with some fall cleaning and just doing a general clean up of the area. I spent my Saturday afternoon picking up garbage and pulling weeds . . . not the most exciting thing to do . . . but I loved it. It was cool to see families with kids all working together on this project and to see the response of the people who work in this area. I also work in this area of town and see on an almost daily basis the hopelessness and despair in some of the people in this often neglected area of town. But I also saw the light and encouragement we brought to the area by spending sometime cleaning it up.

Both of these opportunities got me thinking about service a lot. It is the kind of life that we are called to live as followers of Christ . . . a life of service. When Christ was on earth He served others all the time . . . and that is the example that we are to follow. Serving doesn't always have to be big things that the two opportunities I had recently. It can be in little things - like helping someone carry their groceries to their car, or taking out the garbage when it's not your turn, or any number of other examples you can think of. As I have begun to look around at the people I come into contact with everyday I have bgun to see the many opportunities we have ot serve others . . . and then I've started to think about the difference it could make if we would take these opportunities. It's an incredible thing to picture!