The Cup That Jesus Drinks

Convincing the church to sell Christianity as a way to achieve benefit, rather than offering Christianity as a way to be a benefit to others, is Satan’s most insidious deception.

Jesus did not die just for you – he died for everyone. Jesus invites you to participate in his death and resurrection. Baptism and Communion aren’t symbols of receiving a crown, being seated on a throne, and being given a mansion. Baptism and Communion are symbols of Suffering, Sacrifice, and Service. They are symbols of our participation with Jesus in the redemption of a world of people who are lost, and dying, and broken.

“I am crucified with Christ…” (Galatians 2:20)

“Buried with Christ in Baptism…” (Romans 6:4)

“Are you able to drink from this cup I drink?” (Matthew 20:22)

“Drink of it, all of you.” (Matthew 26:27)

“The Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve.” (Matthew 20:28)

“Follow me.” (Matthew 16:24)

Being a servant – that is, following Jesus – isn’t popular or comfortable. Following Jesus won’t make you one of the Cool Kids. To be sure, following Jesus has its blessings, but they are the blessings of satisfaction, not the blessings of luxury. They are the blessings that come from hard work, not the blessings that come from relaxing. Following Jesus is work, then rest – not rest, and more rest. Jesus will reward you richly – but first, following him will cost you everything.

Are you ready for this kind of Christianity?

–Bob Young
[6/13/2017]

Books by Bob Young
http://www.amazon.com/author/bobyoung

 

Almost Snuffed Out

20141109 Almost Snuffed Out Hypocrisy and Pride are the Devil’s twins, born at the same time, and never long separated. We see the speck in someone else’s eye, with some sort of X-ray vision that allows us to see right through the log in our own eye (Matthew 7:3-5). Jesus called this hypocrisy in verse 5, but pride is evident here, too. “Come to me, brother – I’m a speck-removal expert!”

Do you despise hypocrisy? (Be careful how you answer; after all, you have already agreed with my first sentence.) If you want to despise hypocrisy, it’s wisest to despise it in yourself.

Let’s leave Hypocrisy and Pride, and follow Jesus. What did Jesus do? What did Jesus teach us? What does Jesus expect of us? Just this:

Fan embers into flame. Bind up wounds.

This is what Jesus does, and you are to follow in his footsteps.

Matthew quoted this passage, originally from Isaiah 42, and said that this prophecy was fulfilled in Jesus:

“Behold, my servant whom I have chosen,
my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased.
I will put my Spirit upon him,
and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles.
He will not quarrel or cry aloud,
nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets;
a bruised reed he will not break,
and a smoldering wick he will not quench,
until he brings justice to victory;
and in his name the Gentiles will hope.”
(Matthew 12:18-21, ESV)

Today, you can recall many experiences with people who are bruised reeds, or smoldering wicks. The damage has already been done to this person. Usually, they do it to themselves. Sin causes brokenness, and it hurts. It’s a bruise. Sin suffocates. Our brightly burning flame becomes oxygen-starved, fuel-deprived, dim.

Have you ever had a speck in your eye? You don’t need someone to tell you it’s there – you know! It hurts!

The twins, Hypocrisy and Pride, are not a speck. They are a log. They are too heavy to carry, and so they weaken you. A spiritual giant becomes a powerless runt, bent over, stunted, and groaning under the overbearing weight of pride. Such a person falls on the bruised reed and breaks it. He suffocates the smoldering wick, putting out what remained of the potential for fire. Instead of removing the speck, he pokes out the eye.

I know. This is a poorly written article, because I’m jumping back and forth between three different metaphors. And yet, somehow, I think you’re getting it. Let me try to summarize my message…

When you approach someone with the good news of Jesus Christ, Jesus himself expects you to do it in a way that fans embers into flame; he expects you to heal the bruises.

Pay attention to the sinners you “treat.” If you’re an ember quencher – if you break bruised reeds – you’re not walking in Jesus’ steps.

Be a blessing. Be a healer. Christian, you are called to this.

–Bob Young
[11/9/2014]

bobyoung –at– paxterrarum –dot– com

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Parable of the Buddha Statue

buddha 02 A Christian woman went to a nice restaurant for dinner. When her meal was served, she bowed her head and prayed silently, thanking God for her food. A patron in the restaurant saw this, and spoke to her: “You shouldn’t pray in public. It offends us who do not share your faith.”

The Christian said, “You’re offended? No, not so much as I am offended! This is America, and we have freedom of expression. I will pray in public if I want to. Now, don’t speak to me again about this.”

After she finished her meal, the Christian went home. She saw her neighbor, who was a gardener, tending her garden. The neighbor had put a statue of Buddha by the sidewalk, at the front of the garden.

The Christian said, “You shouldn’t have a Buddha statue in your garden. Don’t you know that it is idol worship? It offends me to have a Buddha statue next to my house.”

That night, the Christian’s house was struck by lightning from God, and burned completely to the ground. The gardener invited the Christian and her entire family to live with her and sleep in the guest room until a new house was built.

Now tell me: who did the will of God – the Christian, or the gardener?

–Bob Young
[11/4/2014]

Books by Bob Young
http://www.amazon.com/Bob-Young/e/B00E6Z8PKW

Weekly Worship Starting This Fall

"The oil is ready."

“The oil is ready.”

Friends,

Penney and I are ready to “take the plunge” and commit to a weekly (yes, weekly!) Sunday evening worship service, starting on September 21st. You’re invited.

In June I conducted a survey and asked people what they thought should be included in a house church service. In the experimental services last Spring, I started with only two elements: worship music and prayer. Later, I added a very brief teaching section, and it turns out, according to the survey, that it was a good move.

I want to talk about the teaching portion – the message – a little bit before I go on. I originally saw two big problems with bringing a message at the worship meeting in my home. The first big problem is that sometimes churches grow around a personality. I’m trying to start a house church movement, not just one house church, and I can’t be everywhere. Also, because of my travel schedule, I can’t even be at my own house every Sunday evening. So it’s got to be able to survive without me. It’s easier to get musicians than guest speakers. The second big problem is, to be candid, it looks egotistical. “I’m having a meeting at my house so I’ll have someplace to speak!” But that’s not why I’m starting house churches.

Here’s the actual reason I’m starting house churches: I’m trying to get people who aren’t comfortable in a traditional church to follow Jesus. I’m solidly convinced that there are more people who love Jesus outside the institutional church than in it. I’m convinced that there are people who long to believe in Jesus – they ache for “it” to be true – and they’re looking for a reason to believe, something worthy of overcoming their resistance. This original, centuries-old form of worship – without a paid leader, without a structural hierarchy, without property or a building – is that “something worthy” that will overcome the resistance. It is the “Moneyless Church” that can present itself to the world as bearing the image of Jesus Christ, that can be his body, words, and actions, that can change hearts, change lives – and change the world.

That’s why I’m doing this.

So, back to the main theme… I began with two elements – worship music and prayer. But the survey responses overwhelmingly support three elements: worship music, prayer, and a teaching message. A fourth element got strong, but lesser, support, and that fourth element is Communion. I don’t intend to introduce Communion to the Sunday evening service yet, because many or most of the people who have attended the experimental services go to church somewhere else and have other opportunities. (If you want to see Communion included, I need to hear from you.) I expect that to change over time. I expect the time will come when most of the people who attend don’t go to a “conventional” church. When that happens, we’ll be having Communion.

So now we’re ready, and it’s time to get the word out. Sundays, at 7:00 p.m., beginning on September 21.

Who’s in? Email me. Also, we may start a Facebook Group page, or a Google Hangout. Somebody could volunteer to do that – hint, hint.

Last item: music! I want music, music, everywhere! I’d like to see at least four different music groups involved, so no one is burned out from doing it too often.

Contact me. Get involved. Let’s see how fast we can get so many people doing this that we start having meetings in multiple houses to accommodate everyone.

How To Forgive

20140223 How To Forgive “He used to beat me in front of the children. He’s an alcoholic. When he worked, he drank his paycheck. I had to work to have money to buy food for the family. I just kicked him out two weeks ago. And you want me to forgive him?”

The woman came up to me right after I finished giving a message on forgiveness to the Beaverton Christian Singles at Beaverton Christian Church in Oregon. In her pain, she thought I was telling her to let her husband move back into the house, but that wasn’t what I was saying at all.

SEPARATE FORGIVENESS FROM TRUST
I let the woman tell me more of her story. Then I asked, “What’s your husband’s name?” She said, “John.”

I said, “Look at that empty chair. Imagine John is sitting there. Now, look him in the eye and say, “John, I forgive you – but I can never again trust you.” She faced the chair, took a deep breath, opened her lips… and I could see when the understanding came.

Forgiving doesn’t mean trusting. Some people aren’t trustworthy. They’re just not. Forgiving John, though, was incredibly healing for this woman. And forgiving is powerfully healing for you.

SEPARATE FORGIVENESS FROM CONSEQUENCES
It’s true that sometimes, when we forgive, we stop punishing. But this isn’t always the case. To illustrate this concept, I’m going to give you an example from the Roman Catholic Church. Imagine a priest going to talk to a prisoner who has been rightfully convicted of murder. After some years, the murderer comes to faith in Jesus Christ, and his heart is changed. The priest hears his confession and tells him he is forgiven – but the priest isn’t expected to ask the warden to release the murderer from the rest of his sentence. No, the murderer is forgiven, but his actions still have consequences.

You may have seen the separation of forgiveness and consequences in your own life. For example, if you have spent your money foolishly, and then say, “God, forgive me,” you’re forgiven – but you still have to pay off your debts.

Is there someone you refuse to forgive, because you don’t want him or her to escape the consequences of their actions? Remember that forgiveness and consequences are two separate things. You can make separate decisions about them.

SEE THE FOOL
“The way of fools seems right to them…” (Proverbs 12:15)

The one who hates is a fool.
The one who hurts is a fool.
The selfish one is a fool.
The greedy one is a fool.
The insensitive one is a fool.

Many times, I have hurt people intentionally.
I was a fool.

Many times, I have hurt people without even being aware of my wrongdoing.
I was a fool.

In the Book of Proverbs, Solomon gives us many examples of what a fool is like. He defines the fool so that we can clearly recognize a fool when we see one. Solomon also tells us that fools are responsible for their actions, and fools will face the bitter consequences of their foolishness.

When you see someone for the fool that he or she is, forgiveness will come more easily.

FORGIVENESS IS A CHOICE, NOT AN EMOTION
Hate is an emotion. Fear is an emotion. But forgiveness is not an emotion. Listen to me. If you have an unforgiving heart right now, you won’t like what I’m about to tell you. Nevertheless, it is true and biblical. We don’t feel like forgiving. We choose to forgive.

“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.’” (Matthew 18:21-22)

Do you see? We forgive, not because we feel like it, but as an act of obedience to our Lord Jesus. We forgive in spite of our feelings. We forgive, sometimes, before our feelings agree with our decision.

THE DECISION TO FORGIVE AS TWO ACTS: OUTWARD AND INWARD
So, how do we forgive? What’s involved in forgiving? If it’s a choice, what is it that we choose to do, or not do? I’ll explain how to forgive as two distinct acts: the outward act of forgiveness, and the inward (or inner) act of forgiveness. Sometimes one is called for, sometimes the other, and, most often, both are needed.

THE OUTWARD ACT OF FORGIVENESS
The outward act of forgiveness is visible to others.

1. Speaking Forgiveness
You may say to the person, “I forgive you.” The offender may or may not be penitent. He or she may not care whether or not you forgive them. Nevertheless, when you choose to say it, and do say it in their hearing, it profoundly changes the nature of the situation.

“Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’” (Luke 23:34)

2. Cancel the Debt
You may remove an obligation for the offender to perform a certain action. You may do this whether or not you want to, on some level. You may not feel like canceling the obligation. You may do it simply out of obedience to Jesus, the one you choose to follow.

There are times when it’s unwise to cancel the debt. There are times when it’s important that the offender face the consequences of his or her actions. Earlier, I said that you must learn to separate forgiveness from consequences, and this statement is true. On the other hand, it is also true that, in some circumstances, the outward act of forgiveness can be seen by removing a penalty, a punishment, a debt, or an obligation. This calls for wisdom. It does not call for emotion. It calls for wisdom.

3. Abandon Vengeance
Revenge is an action. When you choose to forgive, you choose not to avenge yourself. The outward act of forgiveness means giving up even the planning of revenge. For the one who would forgive, there is no payback, no getting even, no settling the score.

4. Serve
Let me be clear: serving is not enabling. The offender may desire your submission or assistance in the wrongdoing, but don’t participate or contribute to the wrong in any way. You are not called on to smooth the way for the offender’s sin. In fact, you help best by opposing it. At the same time, it is still true that you can demonstrate that you have chosen the higher path – forgiveness – by acts of love and service.

“Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary:
‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
(Romans 12:17-21)

“If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat;
if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head,
and the Lord will reward you.”
(Proverbs 25:21-22)

THE INWARD ACT OF FORGIVENESS
The inward act of forgiveness takes place in the heart and mind.

1. Love Without Boundaries
Love grows in the soil of forgiveness. You cannot say you love someone, and at the same time refuse to forgive them. And yet, God commands you to love. When you choose to love, you also choose to forgive.

2. Refuse to Hate
“Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’” (Matthew 19:26)
It can be truthfully said that I’m taking Matthew 19:26 out of context. My reply is that, in this passage, Jesus revealed a general principle in a specific context, but the general principle is true in many other contexts, as well. And refusing to hate is just such an additional context. You can’t change your heart. I can’t change my heart. But God, my friend – God can change our hearts.

When you pray, “Father, I don’t want to hate. I want to forgive” – then oh, my friend, you have prayed a powerful prayer, and God honors such a prayer. How many times must you pray this prayer? Seven times? Seventy-seven times? As many times as necessary. We do not give up. We do not lose heart. We choose the inward act of forgiveness, the inward act of love.

Be encouraged by this repeated prayer. Satan will try to discourage you, and whisper to you, “See? You have failed – again! The old hatred has returned – again! You can’t forgive!” But every time you ask God to change your heart, you are choosing to forgive – again! You are choosing to love – again! And Satan is defeated. Again.

–Bob Young
[2/23/2014]

Is my writing helpful? Maybe you should buy one of my books…
Books by Bob Young
http://www.amazon.com/author/bobyoung

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