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Category — Quest

Spiritual Partnerships

quest-7-1When I was twelve years old I went to camp for the first time. One of the highlights of camp for any twelve-year-old boy was swimming in the lake on a hot summer day. But the oversight of a couple hundred high-energy boys is a huge responsibility for the camp staff! They knew there were too many boys and too few staff to provide a safe swimming environment.

So, to make swimming safer they established the “buddy-system”. We were not allowed in the water without our buddy. And when the whistle blew we grabbed each other’s hand and raised our hands high to show that we had our buddy and that everyone was safe and accounted for. [Read more →]

August 4, 2009   4 Comments

What Following Jesus Does Not Mean

quest-6-4For many of us, somewhere along the line, our relationship with God degenerated into a joyless, obligatory maintenance of moral and religious behaviors. This was the case with the Pharisees and teachers of the law in Jesus’ day. On one occasion, Jesus had collected a gathering of “tax collectors and sinners” who were listening to him teach. The Pharisees and teachers of the law found this disgusting and criticized Jesus for fraternizing with these low-lives.

Specifically in response to their grumbling, Jesus told the Pharisees and teachers of the law three parables: that of the lost sheep; the lost coin; and the lost son—also known as the parable of the prodigal son. In the parable of the lost son, Jesus gives the Pharisees and teachers of the law at least three stark lessons to chew on. [Read more →]

August 2, 2009   2 Comments

Telltale Characteristics of a Follower of Christ

quest-6-3In the previous post I challenged us to see ourselves as followers of Christ who have been and are being transformed. What are some of the ways that God wants to change us? What are some telltale characteristics of a follower of Christ? Paul urges us, “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves.”

In the Gospel of John, Jesus gives us some very clear indicators of what it means to follow him. Observe how relational these characteristics are. These indicators are not meant as a list to keep—that does not work in a relationship! Instead, view them more like relational skills in pursuing our relationship with Christ. (What I’ve provided below are merely five such characteristics.) [Read more →]

July 29, 2009   2 Comments

Are You a Follower of Jesus Christ?

quest-6-2In The Quest book we discussed how the terms “Christian” and “believer” have degenerated in meaning. We’re not suggesting that we should all discontinue using those terms, but consider the following.

If we were to ask the average person in the US, “Are you a Christian?” How would they respond? Many might say, “Yes, I am.” But does that mean that they attend a church? Does it mean that they were born in a “Christian” country? Does it signify they were baptized as an infant? Does it merely establish that they’re not atheist or Muslim? Could it mean they prayed a prayer at camp when they were twelve? Or does it mean they are trusting Christ alone for their salvation and growing in their relationship with him daily? [Read more →]

July 29, 2009   3 Comments

What Does it Mean to Follow Jesus Today?

quest-6-1In the Gospels, Jesus’ challenge for others to follow him became synonymous for becoming his disciple. Matthew tells us in very simple terms how Jesus called on him to follow him. The account explains, “Jesus . . . saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. ‘Follow me,’ he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.”

A disciple of Jesus literally followed him around in order to observe him in any and all situations with a view to becoming like him in his teachings and way of life. In those days, becoming Jesus’ disciple meant leaving all other pursuits in order to shadow and imitate him. His disciples had left all else behind in order to follow Jesus. [Read more →]

July 27, 2009   1 Comment

What Does a Worshipful Lifestyle Look Like?

quest-5-4Psalm 100 is one of the classic Psalms on worshiping God: “Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”

Reading through that Psalm it’s hard to miss the joy, gladness, joyful songs, thanksgiving and praise! These are all right responses to God in worship because of who he is. We often mistakenly think we have to feel joyful before we can worship God with joy. Typically what that means is that we behave as though our joy was tied to our circumstances—which manipulate our feelings—which drive the tone and intensity of our worship. For many years I was caught up in thinking like that. But that’s all upside down thinking that stifles our freedom to worship God joyfully! [Read more →]

July 22, 2009   1 Comment

Worship is a Response to What We Most Enjoy!

quest-5-3When we delight in God our natural response is to worship him. When I was a child I memorized Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” While I understood in an elementary way what this verse is saying, even into adulthood I didn’t quite get it. I remember wondering, “What does it mean to delight myself in the Lord? Does it really mean that if I do that (whatever that is) he’ll give me the desires of my heart?”

Just a few years ago, I decided to meditate on that passage and ask God to reveal to me what it means. A means of meditating that I have found effective is to plug in synonyms for key words. I also compare various translations to see what light they shed on a passage. For instance, the New Living Translation of this verse reads, “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires.” [Read more →]

July 21, 2009   1 Comment

Worship is a Lifestyle!

quest-5-2One of the biggest problems we have with the worship of God is that we relegate it solely to a formal church experience. Once we do that we fall prey to the practice of compartmentalizing our lives, in which we divide our lives up into separate compartments. Thus we have our “God compartment,” our “family compartment,” our “work compartment,” our “leisure compartment,” and so on. Then we allow attitudes, behaviors, and language in one compartment that we would never allow in another. But a compartmentalized life is a compromised life!

The Pharisees were masters at compartmentalizing their lives and Jesus called them on it, identifying it as hypocrisy. The Pharisees were so attentive to their “worship compartment” that they even gave a tenth of the little herbs that they grew. But in the context of the rest of their lives they neglected really important matters like justice, mercy and faithfulness. (Matthew 23:23) [Read more →]

July 20, 2009   1 Comment

Worship Belongs Solely to God!

quest-5-1Worship of God is the highest expression of relationship mankind is capable of. No earthly experience is more euphoric, more intimate and more fulfilling than the act of worshiping God. In worshiping God, we draw attention to and revel in His perfect, holy awesome Person. In view of His infinite greatness and everlasting love toward us, our only right response is one of humility, brokenness, neediness and overwhelming gratitude—all expressions of worship.

A mere glimpse of God’s great love for us buckles our knees before Him in profound thanksgiving and praise! Before His glory, we are stripped of all pretense and worthiness. He sees right through us and knows our secret thoughts and passions. We are laid bare—naked and exposed before him. Yet, God’s infinite joy and peace overcome our fear of exposure, and we find safety and acceptance in His presence. With Him we enjoy relief and release from all guilt and shame. [Read more →]

July 20, 2009   1 Comment

Cultivate Right-Valued Living!

quest-4-4Values are life-guiding principles. Values are not behaviors, but they provide the motivation and drive for action. In Romans 8:5 Paul talks about “living in accordance with the Spirit of God and having our minds set on what he desires.” Right-valued living is living in concert with God.

Another great passage in which Paul deals with this issue is Titus 2:11-14, “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” [Read more →]

July 18, 2009   1 Comment