The Fine* Print

Here’s a well-known Bible verse you’ve likely heard.  It was spoken from Jesus to Peter and Andrew by the Sea of Galilee:

“Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”  (Matthew 4:19)

Did you catch that? It’s subtle so maybe you didn’t notice.  If you squint, you’ll see it.  It’s between “Follow” and “Me”.  It’s the fine print.  Its the “catch”.  And in this verse, it’s saying: “You’re going to end up martyred. That means killed for following Me.  Dead.”

A few nights ago as I met with my not-so-small small group of high school students, one of them asked if he could share something that’s been on his heart.  I said “Sure.”  So, a few minutes after getting our Bible study underway, I turned it over the him.  For the next several minutes, he shared from his heart what God has been teaching him recently.  It couldn’t have been more transparent, authentic, and piercing than it was.  To summarize, he wanted to make sure everyone knew and understood that to follow Jesus isn’t all that we as Christians (especially American Christians) sometimes make it out to be.  Often times, we dress it up in an effort to make being a disciple more palatable.  We soften it and water it down.  He talked about the proverbial “contract” that we signed when we committed our lives to Christ.  The problem is, it looks like many of us didn’t really understand what we were getting into.

But let’s never forget: Following Jesus is a matter of welcoming death. Are you willing to die?

*Its not so much “fine print” as it is faded print.  Over the years, we have forsaken and even forgotten that in order to receive the life Jesus offers we must “take up our cross” and follow Him (Luke 9:23).  But we’ve translated it as “hang a cross from your rear view mirror, ‘cuz that’s good enough” to follow Him.

I fear hearing Jesus say upon His return, “That’s not what I meant.”

All throughout His earthly ministry, Jesus shook people up with statements that seemed outlandish and radical.  He seemingly turned His back on His own family, He promised problems when we follow Him, and He said His followers would be hated and put to death for following Him.  He essentially told His boys: If you ain’t got a sword, sell some stuff and buy one, ‘cuz it’s about to go down (Luke 22:36).  What happened to the meek Jesus? What happened to the Swedish, fair-skinned, gorgeous-lipped man we’re so comfortable with?  What happened to the afternoon tea party Jesus that doesn’t expect much of those who come along?  What happened to the Jesus I love so much because He agrees with me?

For many of us, I don’t think the Jesus we’ve imagined or the Jesus we think we’re following ever existed.  The true Jesus is a powerhouse of passion for the mission of finding and saving lost souls.  The Jesus that sits today on heaven’s throne is a God bent on the utter annihilation of sin, and total redemption of creation.  He’s already destroyed sin’s power, and will soon destroy any trace of it ever existing.  And He’ll do it all with one single word.  The Jesus that walked the earth some 2,000 years ago didn’t and still doesn’t accept part-time applicants.

As we enter into this most holy of weekends–the 3 days that changed EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE FOR EVERYONE, let’s not be confused on who is calling us into the revolutionary love affair with Him and with His Kingdom.

3 Questions All Humans Want Answered

I’ve heard it said that “there’s a God-shaped hole in all of us”.  Maybe that’s true.  Not sure what shape that might be, but from what I’ve seen after living 38 years–oops, I mean 25 years–on the planet, and talking to lots of people, I’ve found something else to be even more true than the whole “God-hole theory”.

People want answers.

There are 3 questions that every human being wants answers to.  And by the way, you can ask any of these questions in a non-spiritual, non-religious, non-threatening way to anyone.  Of course as with anything, the better acquainted you are with the person, the more natural the conversation will likely go.

1. Where do you think we came from?

This question addresses our origin.  And while most people believe in a “higher power”, few people are sure of who/what he/she/it is.

2. What do you think is the purpose of our lives on earth?

Prediction: Most people will answer with something along the lines of: “To be good to others, to do more good than bad, to be happy, to leave the world a better place, etc.”  All nice things.  No wonder we can agree on them.

3. What do you think happens when you die?

Statistically speaking, most people believe in an afterlife but aren’t confident at all as to the details of what it is, where it is, or how to get in to any generic “heaven” that probably exists.  Again, the majority of people you ask will likely think they’re going to heaven based on their good outweighing their bad.

These are all great questions, aren’t they?  No wonder people want answers.  And I’d submit that the trajectory of our lives hinge on our answers to each of them.  The way we view ourselves, our world, and those around us are hinged on our direct or indirect answers to these questions.

What’s another question you think most/all people want an answer to?

Chin up, Buttercup.

When I was in elementary school, middle school, and high school I (and maybe you too) endured the “Presidential Physical Fitness Award” testing.  To this day, I don’t think the results to those tests get anywhere near the White House.  I don’t think Mr. President ever pours over the results and decides who gets recognized and who gets wedgied.  I always silently thought it was some scam, created by gym teachers who don’t have anything else planned because…well…they’re gym teachers.

No offense to all the gym teachers out there–oops–I mean Physical Education Specialists out there, but my high school gym teacher was the biggest pot head in the school.

Every year in high school, there was the long trek from our gymnasium to the workout room on the other side of the building.  The air in the workout room was thick with the stale aroma of football player funk.  Poorly ventilated, poorly lit, and I’m sure a hotbed of juicing, we went in there once a year for one purpose: the pull-up test.  I hated the pull-up test.  My personal best was 8.  That’s right.  8.  I was always jealous of the girl version because all they had to do was hang there.  With my pronounced jawbone, I could have done that all day with no hands.  Yep, pull-ups were my nemesis and the glaring light that shone on my physical weakness for all to see.  But here’s the thing about the pull-up bar: The only way to do more pull-ups is to do more pull-ups.

Today I’m grabbing the pull-up bar of blog writing and for better or worse, I’m giving it a go.  Right here, right now (I’m nearly shaking while typing this), I’m going to blog regularly.  (I wrote and deleted the word “daily” 4 times.)  Why do I want to increase production on my blog writing, you ask?  Here’s why:

1. I’m inspired.  My friend and yours, Myles Bristowe started a new venture just today.  He’s committed to blogging about marketing (his field of expertise) everyday.  His muse? A fortune cookie he’ll crack open every morning, read, and somehow connect to the world of marketing.  Brilliant idea.

2. More and more, I want this writing thing to go somewhere.  Lots of people have asked me if I’ve written any books, and the simple answer is “no.”  I’ve been told that I should and that’s really nice, but as Jon Acuff puts it, “Writing a book is like a marathon, and blogging is like training.”  So, if I’d like to one day have a book out there, I’d better get intent on training, right?

3. Finally, I enjoy writing more than I enjoy doing most things.  I don’t know why and I’m not ready to psychoanalyze myself to figure it out.  Just do me a favor, okay?  Tell me if I shouldn’t be doing this.  I’ve sat in way too many church services listening to someone sing because they “love to sing”.  They should have first conferred with those of us who have to hear them sing.

So there.  In a non-committed, committal kind of way, I’m saying that I’m taking it up a notch.  It won’t always be perfect, it won’t be always polished, but it will always be flowing.