Wednesday, February 27, 2013

February 28, 2013

"People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”  Mark 10:13-15
How is it with your soul?
In this soulshift series you get to measure your soul aside the soul of Jesus. It is as helpful as it is painful to see clearly how He is wired and how you must be rewired.
To this point you have been confronted with the fact He is minded differently from you and you are not souled like Him.
Doesn't it hurt to think that you can follow Jesus for a long time and still not have His mind or His heart?
That is what a soulshift is all about.
Now, buckle up for another soul shocker.
It would be easy to focus on another obvious slip up by the disciples as they tried to prevent the children from coming to be blessed by Jesus. But it's more important to hear what He said to them. He warned them unless they became like a child they would miss the kingdom.
Okay, you get a moment to let that sink in.
Three questions arise when once you get your mind around it.
What is the kingdom?
What has to happen?
How does it happen?
The kingdom is a culture. It is a mindset, a set of values, a way of believing, life principles, it is the reign of God that must rule your heart.
For this kingdom to come to you there must be a change at the deepest level, in the core of your being, in your soul. "Metanoia" is the word used for change and denotes a difference or a change in form. The difference here is from you ruling your life to surrendering to His reign.
How does this change happen? It happens by entering into a child-Father relationship with God by faith. The Creator, and the Almighty Who cannot be contained by a vast universe can fit into your soul!
His kingdom has come! Has it come to you?
Don't miss it! Don't miss Him! He longs to be your Father and adopt you as His child.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

February 27, 2013

"They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest." Mark 9:33-34
Okay, I was wrong.
I said in yesterday's post I had one more point to make on the "You to Me" selfishness topic. This WILL be my final comment regarding this important soulshift.
During a conversation I had today I thought about another very subtle form of selfishness that might not be recognized as such. Jesus addressed it with His disciples. It didn't slide past Him.
"What are you talking about, PB?"
I am talking about allowing selfishness in an attempt to be selfless.
Here is how it works.
While Jesus most selfless Person Who ever lived. In fact, in this text we see Him trying to reveal to them the very selfless act of sacrifice He was soon to suffer. Ironlically, as He did so His disciples were arguing over who would be the greatest among them.
Jesus could have reasoned, "Well, after all I was talking about myself so how can I get after them for being worried about themselves." Or He could have just pretended not to hear their conversation, but He didn't! He confronted them with their self-centeredness because He loved them too much to let them get away with selfishness.
For you or me it usually works like this. We have a spouse or a child or a teen-ager or a child who is being selfish. You know he is acting selfishly and is taking advantage of your gentleness. In your heart you know it isn't right and you feel disrespected but you know if you confront them or call them on their selfishness it could get tense. So, wanting to avoid a conflict you choose not to confront the selfish behavior. Instead, you bear the brunt of their selfish behavior and they go unchallenged.
While you convince yourself that you are being selfless you are in fact being selfish!
Say what?
You are being selfish because your reason for not confronting their selfish behavior is more about your comfort level and not about what is best for them. Your pseudo-selflessness is doubly harmful because it not only hurts you it enables their selfishness.
Are you enabling others to be selfish because you are too selfish to challenge them?
Jesus didn't.

Monday, February 25, 2013

February 26, 2013

"But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Christ." Mark 8:29
I have one final thought for this week one focus on self-centeredness.
It really bothered me that these disciples (who I have always admired) could be so dense in regard to Who Jesus was and what He had come to do.
Over the past two Sundays I have shared examples of how these men had followed Christ exclusively for two years and didn't seem to grasp Him. It becomes obvious that these guys are NOT minded like Jesus and that there is a wide gap between the nature of their souls. Jesus keeps trying to reveal to them how He will suffer and die to provide the atonement for their sins. But, each time they interrupt Him and try to make this about them.
You have to ask yourself, "Why did they not want to know about His impending suffering? Especially since it would have a significant impact on them?"
That question haunted me for a couple weeks as I have studied this. Last night during our discussion at LIFE Group it dawned on me, this was another expression of their selfishness.They were so focused on what they wanted Him to be they were blinded to Who He actually is! Their version of a Messiah would be One who rides into Jerusalem as a conquering hero to vanquish the might Roman army. It explains why they were so focused on what their role would be once they were in charge.
It wasn't that they were totally stupid - just totally selfish! Being selfish can cause you to look stupid!
The pleasure of being a Christ-follower is getting to know Him for Who He REALLY is and conform to His image to accomplish His purpose.
Contrast the attitude of the disciples to that of the Apostle Paul:
"But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead."  Philippians 3:7-11
As you compare the attitudes of the disciples and that of the apostle you have to ask ourself who had a "soulshift" and who didn't?
I think you know the answer.
Which attitude is yours? Are you trying to squeeze Jesus into your image of Him or are you allowing Him to shape you into His?
Afterall, that could be the ultimate test of selfishness.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

February 25, 2013

"But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy."               II Timothy 3:1-2
Wow! These few verses say alot about the attitude of gratitude and what causes people to be thankful - or not thankful.

First, it tells us that the day will come when thankfulness will be a rare commodity. What was once a common courtesy will someday become hard to find.

That begs the question, "Why?"

People will be lovers of self. How does that blunt thankfulness? People who are self-centered tend to believe that they deserve what they get, so when they get something good they feel it was owed to them and when they don't they feel cheated. It is hard to satisfy them.

People will be lovers of money. What's wrong with that? Loving money often leads to greed. Greedy people seldom experience feelings of gratitude. Greed and gratitude rarely occupy the same space.
When selfishness and greed rule your life, you are not a very pleasant person - "boastful, proud, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy." May I add - unhappy, unfulfilled and miserable?
Thankful people, by implication, are not self-centered, not greedy, humble, obedient, grateful and holy.
So, are such people thankful because they possess these characteristics or do they have these characteristics because they are thankful? The answer is, "Yes!"
Make life about Him and not about you and He will develop within you an attitude of gratitude.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

February 24, 2013

"Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.” Mark 9:35
Today marks the unofficial start of Spring - the 2013 NASCAR season!
43 cars will roll out onto world-renown Daytona International Speedway for the prestigious Daytona 500 race. 42 of those cars will line up on the starting grid behind a girl for the first time in history. Danica Patrick will sit on the pole when the green flag drops.
Starting in first place is very important and impressive. But if you were to ask each of the 43 drivers where they want to finish at the end of the race they would say, "First place!"
Race car drivers race for one purpose - to win! Second place is just the first loser!
I think Jesus was being a little facetious when He made the statement, "IF anyone anyone wants to be first". EVERYONE wants to be first! Jesus knew that everyone of us is wired for self-promotion. We want the best for ourselves and we want to be at the head of the line.
So, the disciples were arguing over which of them was the greatest among them. I am going to venture a wild guess and say that they weren't nominating each other for greatness. When Jesus got wind of their jostling for position He called then together and then He "sat down".         

In the Hebrew culture, when a Rabbi sat down, something significant was about to happen! What happened was they got confronted about their selfish ambitions. Wanting to be first would require them to be willing to settle for last.

So the question arises, "How do I get from wanting to be first to being willing to be last?"

Let me share four ways that are inferred in His "sitting down" speech:

First: Wake Up

Recognize and repudiate your self-centered ambitions.

Wake up calls often come in the form of broken or strained relationships with a significant person in your life.

Second: Become Interested In Others

Here is an acrostic that might help: 

Take an interest in another
Hear their hearts and words
Empathize with their concerns
Meet their needs as able

Third: Become A Servant
You can take an interest in people BUT still not truly be a servant.
How is that PB?
When we take an interest in others – WE ARE STILL IN CHARGE and WE DECIDE how our help is appreciated or effective. BUT when we choose to be a servant, we give up the right to be in charge. We make ourselves vulnerable. We do small things behind the scenes with nothing to gain for ourselves.
Four: Lift Other's Burdens
Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” MT. 16:24
There is no time when we are more like the Trinity than when we carry each other’s burdens and enter their lives. We absorb their flaws and failures and still stand with them. We stand in the gap for each other, we pray for each other’s kids like they were our own, and we lose sleep over other’s needs as we would our own.

What are you going to do about it?


Friday, February 22, 2013

February 23, 2013

"They left that place and passed through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know where they were,  because he was teaching his disciples. He said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.” But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it. They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” Mark 9:30-33
Jesus and His disciples were headed to Jerusalem together. For Jesus this would be a one way trip. They thought He was going to establish His reign He knew He was going to die.

They were on the road together but they were in different worlds. They were not "minded" like Him. Nor were they "souled" like Him.
While you are shaking your head over the obvious disparity between how Jesus was wired and how His chosen followers were wired.
As you wonder how they could have followed Him so closely for two years and still be so far away, let me ask you, "How is it with your soul?"
"How can I know?" you ask.
Honestly consider these soul-searching questions:
What do I do when no one is looking?
What do I think about when I am stopped at a red light?
Why am I thinking about that?
What should I be thinking about?
How do I treat the people I live with?
How do I treat people who can do nothing for me?
What do I fear most - and why?
What do I protect most fiercely in my life?
Why do I do that?
After you have given prayerful consideration to those questions, and once you have opened some windows into your soul and after you are satisfied with your answers then you can go back and criticize the disciples.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

February 22, 2013

“He said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.”  Mark 9:31
Have you ever taken a risk to make yourself very vulnerable to someone only to have them respond in a very inappropriate insensitive way?
That is what happened here!
As Jesus was trying (for the second time) to tell the disciples about the selfless suffering He was soon to endure they were arguing over who would be the greatest.
How selfish is that?
About as selfish as you and I are capable of being and sometimes are!
But it gets worse!
They were on their way up to Jerusalem, with Jesus leading the way, and the disciples were astonished, while those who followed were afraid. Again he took the twelve aside and told them what was going to happen to him. “We are going up to Jerusalem,” he said, “and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise. ”Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.” “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked. They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.”  MARK 10:32-37
Come on, guys! Get a clue!

Consider this – Peter, James and John had been with Jesus for the Transfiguration! They even made THAT about themselves.
Here's why, Martin Luther said that man is born “cor incurvitas ad se”, meaning that his heart is curved inward upon itself. If you have or ever have known a small child you know we are born with a self-centered nature.
See if you recognize any of these symptoms:
 - A critical spirit – You think your ideas are much better simply because they are yours.

- Looking out for no. 1 – Look at a group photo that you are in and who do you look for first? Why?

- Arrogance – Thinking too highly of yourself and your opinions OR covering up for feelings of inferiority.

- Inability to forgive self – Even though God has forgiven us, we hold on to our opinion of self.

- Overly competitive – Need to win in order to prove self to others. Losing is too hard on insecure self-image.
- Talk about self too much - When you aren't talking about yourself you are getting ready to.
- Holding grudges – Can’t get over things done to us or against us.

Jesus is not like that – AT ALL!
He is 180 degrees different! He is curved outward and everything He does is focused on others. Everything He thinks is for the interest of others and everything He does is to benefit and enrich others.