Be Direct With Jesus

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Matthew 20:30-34 NIV
Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” [31] The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” [32] Jesus stopped and called them. “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked. [33] “Lord,” they answered, “we want our sight.” [34] Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.

This was the passage in my Jesus time reading this morning. As I get older, it is the simple things that seem to knock at my heart more than anything else. This includes simple statements. Jesus responds to desperation. He did here. It is not shocking that the religious, sophisticated, well-ordered crowd told them to shut up. But we all know what it is like to be SO desperate that you stop caring. You keep crying out. The pain, the longing, the dream, the prayer, the heartache, is simply too deep and strong to silence. So they kept crying out.

I like how Jesus did not walk up to them and just heal them. He respectfully asked the two men what it was that they wanted. I heard a joke once that if Jesus had walked up to two Baptists and asked this question, they would have asked for a seeing eye dog. Corny, but kind of funny. But let’s not pick on the Baptist too much. How many Christians would have answered the same way, or, simply beat around the bush with some insecure rant masked in false humility?

Here is what I took from these two guy’s simple response: Be direct with Jesus. Go ahead and shoot straight with Him. He can handle it.

Psalm 62:8 NKJV
Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. Selah

Now, one word of caution before I end. Being direct with Jesus is not a spiritual practice to be implemented only in rough times. It must be the language of your heart, the way you relate to Daddy in Heaven. It is sad that we are most direct when times are hard, when we are angry with God, when we are extremely disappointed with how something turned out, or when we are about to throw in the towel.

Be direct with Jesus about the dreams in your heart.

Be direct with Jesus about the dreams that you once thought were from Him and now are not so sure.

Be direct with Jesus about your desire for a wife/husband.

Be direct with Jesus about how you the seasons and timing questions of your heart.

Be direct with Jesus about the areas you are disappointed.

Be direct with Jesus about the risks/adventures you are wanting to take that do not seem that spiritual but sound like a lot of fun.

Be direct with Jesus about the areas you want to go for it but are wondering if He might not be for it for some reason.

Be direct with Jesus about the areas you want the Holy Spirit to transform you.

Be direct with Jesus about your sin.

Be direct with Jesus about laying out a Gideon-type fleece.

Be direct with Jesus about something He did not do that you thought He was going to do, i.e. an area of confusion.

Sit down. Be still. Be quiet. And be direct with Jesus. It touches His heart.

Indirectness is a waste of everybody’s time.

A Man’s Best Seminary…

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I was 20 years old, living in Kansas City, and had almost completed the Master’s Commission (a 9-month, intense, focused discipleship “program”). My leaders were Lloyd and Brenda Rindels. Lloyd use to always tell us it was a spiritual greenhouse of sorts, that each person in those 9 months would actually mature 10 years. Quite often with God, we get more than we put in. That is good news!

Toward the end of the 9 months, Michael Sullivant came in to pray and minister prophetically to each person on an individual basis. Toward the end of the word he was giving me, his wife stepped in and said, “A man’s best seminary is his wife and kids.” Looking back, the word was especially accurate in the sense that God told me to “go a secular route to prepare for the same thing.” My heart was to prepare to be a pastor/preacher/teacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Yet, through a series of events, He redirected me away from a theological path to that of Philosophy. Philosophy is one of the chief delights of my heart. I cannot explain that, but there is not a day that goes by that I am not thinking about philosophical issues and how I might connect people in this world to the Gospel of Jesus, our wonderful hope, the only hope, the sole bridge (John 14:6; Acts 4:12) that stretched across the dark chasm that sin has dug between God and His creatures. Now I know that God was offering me some peace for the direction He would take me. It is as if He said, “Don’t worry, my son. Though you will travel another educational path than that which is expected, I will see to it that you will have your ‘seminary’. I will give you a wife. I will give you a son. And there, in that real-life classroom, you will learn, be convicted, be lifted, be inspired, see my heart on a deeper level, and learn more of what I want from you.

In about a month, I will have been married 5 years to the love, passion, and friend of my life. Her name is Allison Condrey. And lately, as I struggle to lay down my life like I am called to, I see her give and give and give. At moments when I do not see how anyone could take one more step, she somehow does. She gives again. She sacrifices again. She shows me the kind of heart that Jesus would have had to have in order to hang, bleed, gasp for breathe, and die on a stupid, ordinary, plain Roman cross alongside criminals. I am not challenged to merely muster up more determination. Rather, I am challenged to put my nose to the ground and cry out to the Holy Spirit, the Great Change Agent, to transform me. May God give me the Jesus heart I see in my wife.

Philippians 2:3-8 NIV
[3] Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, [4] not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. [5] In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: [6] Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; [7] rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. [8] And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!

I could write more concerning my son, but that is for another time.

A man’s best seminary is his wife and kids.

We Need More Than That

1 Peter 3:15 NIV
[15] But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…

Chances are, if you go up to a Christian and ask, “Why do you believe in Jesus,” the answer given will probably have something to do with a personal experience. Now, this is not wrong. To be honest, I meet too many Christians who seem to lack a deep, personal encounter/experience with The Lord. Yet, on the other side of the coin, is this enough?

I heard a story a while back of a Muslim that spoke of how God (“Allah” is nothing more than the Arabic word for “God”, similar to “Dios” in Spanish) healed him. The person was seriously ill, prayed to their God, and was healed. If you asked him why he believed in God, he might replay, “Because God is real, and him healing me proves it!” In other words, “Because of an experience I have had.”

When people ask for your reason for loving/following Jesus Christ, you better be able to point toward a personal experience you have had. HOWEVER, you need more than that. If the only defense you have for your faith is the same line (i.e. “I have had a personal experience.”) that an adherent in another religion can use, then Christ will seem nothing more than one option among many, a mere preference placed nicely and neatly among other buffet options.

Again, your “reason” for believing needs to be personal. If it is not, you are probably following doctrine more than the person of Christ. Yet, we as Christians need to be able to say more than that.

Let me give one example of what this might look like. If someone rises from the dead and later appears to approximately 500 people, then that would be a strong piece of evidence (not “proof,” for I advocate an inductive rather than deductive approach to demonstrating the reality and goodness of Christ) in favor of this risen person being God. You might come at it from this angle. If Christ didn’t rise from the dead, how did 11 disciples who were brokenhearted, disillusioned, disappointed, hopeless, and ashamed of their having left Jesus, all of the sudden live decades upon decades to honor Christ. Someone can live for a lie for some amount of time, but almost each one of these disciples ended up dying for Jesus after years of relentlessly serving Him. How do you fake that? One might say, “Well, it was pride. They didn’t want everyone to think they had made such a stupid, foolish choice.” I would reply, “Ok, maybe they could have faked it out of pride for a few months or years. But to keep going for decades and to be willing to even given their life for Christ, this seems to suggest they really did see a resurrected Christ. How could they have gone the distance, especially when you consider that their very life was required of them, for someone they were just pretending was alive. This kind of fortitude, persererance, and strength could have only existed in their hearts if indeed they witnessed and experienced a Jesus after His death.”

Now, this is not my original thought. Lee Strobel and others have developed this in more detail. Does the above “prove” that what Christians believe is in fact the truth? No. But does it provide one more piece of evidence that makes our case stronger? Yes! A little humility goes a long way. As a Christian, I am not called to provide a mathematical-type proof for God’s existence and goodness. However, I am called upon to provide pieces of evidence so that people have a hard time arguing that at the end of the day, among so many competing worldviews, Christianity really is the most comprehensive and holistic answer.

The bottom line is this: You better have more than, “I have experienced God.” You may not need it, but this is not about you. We are called to be salt and light. Being able to say more than, “I have experienced God,” is how we humbly love and serve our fellow human who does not yet share our faith.