Jesus Wept

 

Growing up I attended a private, Christian, school that had been started by the church my family attended. It was a lot like most other schools I guess, except for it being really small and we literally had things like “Bible Class” as part of our curriculum (Pro-tip: if you ever take a bible class and need to make a guess on a test, always go with Jesus). One of the things that I remember having to do during my time at this school was to memorize bible verses. I can’t even begin to remember how many times I tried to use John 11:35 as my verse. Do you know it? Well if you wanted to memorize a whole bible verse today you can because this one is only 2 words! Jesus wept.

Obviously it took me zero time to memorize this verse. What has taken time though is understanding, and trying to live it out. This is the shortest verse in the bible yet it has massive implications for our lives right now.

 

In John 11 we are told of the time that Jesus went to go raise his friend Lazarus (Mary and Martha’s brother) from the dead. In the story Jesus makes sure that Lazarus is good and dead, by waiting 4 days, before even going to the town. This delay was intentional and helped demonstrate the power and authority of Jesus.

 

John 11:4

But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” (ESV)

 

So, Jesus finally makes his way to Bethany (where Lazarus is now buried) in verse 17. It’s here that he meets Mary, and Martha, and many from their Jewish community. They are understandably distraught. What a scene Jesus finds himself in, talking with this group of grieving humans. Mary and Martha feeling additional pain knowing that if only Jesus had been there sooner then all of this could have been so easily avoided. It’s here that Jesus weeps.

 

John 11:33-35

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept. (ESV)

 

But why did he weep? After all, he knew that he was just about to raise Lazarus from the dead (vs. 43). Why would he be sad, deeply moved, if he knew what great miracle he was about to do? Jesus didn’t weep for Lazarus, he wept for those grieving. It’s because God cares about us. Jesus cared about the deep pain and grief that his friends were experiencing. He had authentic empathy for them. He was sad that they were sad.

 

Jesus still does this with us now. Whatever emotions you find coming to the surface in your life right now, Jesus is there with you. He knows how it feels and he is here for you! But there are greater implications for us to think about than our own needs being met.

Jesus wants us to follow him in this practice of empathy! Our founder led the way in showing us how to actually care about the people around us. Imagine again the all powerful creator of everything, who can control nature, and has authority over even death…being moved to tears by the sorrow of his friends. This is the kind of community building love that we should work to have for each other in Chi Alpha. It may not be a natural thing for you to do this, but Jesus showed us how important of a thing it is by practicing it. What is a new way that you can show a friend that you care about what they are going through?

 

Jesus, help us to love the way you showed us to. Help us to really care for the people that we have in our lives. Give us creative ideas on what we can do next. May we as XA be a community that practices this with each other because that’s what you showed us to do. Amen.

 

Default Mode

A few days ago I was making a typical Walmart run. In the ten-ish minute drive from my house to the store I used some of the time to pray through a few things on my heart. Passing by campus I found myself asking God to use me to help show people the ways and truths of Jesus. While praying this way I was reminded of the way Isaiah (from the Bible) prayed.

And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” – Isaiah 6:8

So my prayers started following the same kind of thinking. I was asking God to use my life in whatever ways he wanted to so that people would actually know Jesus and live out his ways and truths for their life.

Sharing good information with someone is awesome and exciting, even more awesome and exciting is when we share good actions towards someone. Telling someone about the gospel (good news) of Jesus is really important, equally so is actually living these ways and truths of Jesus (which is also good news) each day of our lives.

Continuing my drive I needed to make a quick stop to fill up at Sheetz. As soon as I got out of the car a guy holding a guitar case walked over to me and asked for two bucks so he could catch the bus. My “default mode” answer came too quickly (maybe because it was bitter cold and windy that day). I told him that I didn’t have any cash, and he nodded and walked away. Instantly I sensed the Holy Spirit getting my attention. Here was an opportunity to live out the ways of Jesus! You know…remember that whole loving others and caring for the poor bit (just for starters)? Uh, yeah! So I went to my car and after some digging found two dollars, but the guy was already gone. Jumping back in the car I prayed that God would help me find him again. Not too far I saw him walking by the Family Video store and was able to pull right up and give him the cash that I told him I didn’t have.

God has been using this in my life the last several days. He has been reminding me about it not because I should feel good about giving a random dude two dollars, but because I need to think about doing life differently than I always have. Sometimes the words we speak and phrases we use are so cliche it’s embarrassing. Even more often though it’s our actions that are most cliche! This “default mode” is the cliche way of doing life that is natural to us and all other humans. It prioritizes self concern, safety, and personal satisfaction above all else. No one teaches it to us, it’s how we come right out of the box. It’s a sort of human firmware. To make matters worse, we are helplessly stuck in this default mode too. The only way to operate differently is to have Jesus completely remake us! To have God remake us, as humans, based on the Jesus model.

Living unaware in the human “default mode” will stunt our growth into mature followers of Jesus Christ, and subdue what should be a vibrant and exciting life following him! Additionally, If we keep responding to scenarios and situations in “default mode” without being led by the Holy Spirit, we will miss innumerable opportunities for Jesus to use us for his Kingdom. We have got to wake up to the reality that each day holds incredible opportunity to share Christ in everything that we do.

God help me, help us, to break out of “default mode”. Help us to see what you are doing. Help us to approach each situation and scenario as unique, and as an opportunity to share your ways and truths. Jesus help us to grow up into the men and women that you want us to be!

 

Discovering the Bible

I’m a big fan of the TV show Gold Rush from the Discovery Channel. It’s one of those “reality” shows that follow a bunch of guys trying to mine for gold in Alaska. It’s cold, there are bears, and almost everything that can go wrong does. But, they know the value of gold and so are willing to endure and make sacrifices to find it.

There is a bit of a parallel between mining for gold and reading the bible. Both yield nuggets, one being expensive metal and the other is truth of inestimable value. Both require that we put in some digging to get to those nuggets. Both require that sacrifices be made. Often to pursue one thing, you will have to give up the pursuit of something else. This is true of mining the words of the living God.

Getting the most out of your DNA group all starts with you spending some time discovering truth in the Bible this week. All of God’s words in the Bible are valuable (the mining analogy breaks down a little here as there is no useless dirt in scripture). We rely on the Holy Spirit to illuminate specific truths to our hearts and minds for the situations of life that we are facing right now. Sometimes we may discover a brand new (to us) thought or concept, other times we savor an old truth that we have been needing to remember. Regardless, discovering what God is speaking to us through these written words is thrilling for both the heart and mind. The eternal, omnipotent, creator-God, is always speaking. We must be trying to listen.

As we do the work of listening, let us also be compelled to action! Gold miners aren’t rock collectors. No, they take their finds and sell them, they put the gold to work. Let’s not be guilty of hoarding truths in our head without ever putting them to work! As we go digging we will discover powerful truth and wisdom for our lives, let’s put them into action. Check out what James (from the bible) says here:

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. (1:22-25)

Discovering the bible is not something that we have to do so God will be happy with us. Discovering the bible is something that we get to do because we love Jesus and want to be about all that he is about!

We want to help you develop a digging method. Reading the bible should not be approached like reading a textbook, because it is nothing close to one. This is a collection of divinely inspired words that overflow with depth, meaning, and life. Below are 3 great models to help you develop a healthy approach to digging for truth in the bible. Check them out and get started today!

REAPhttp://austinstone.org/resources/bible-reading-plan

The Austin Stone in Texas uses REAP (Read, Examine, Apply, Pray). This is a “straightforward way to process what you’re reading, either on your own or with a small group of people.”


SOAPhttp://soapstudy.com

S.O.A.P. stands for Scripture, Observation, Application and Prayer. The above is a website that is dedicated to helping you do this better.


PROAPThttp://indianaxa.dropmark.com/150965/2562579

This is a commonly used XA tool to help you study the Bible. Instead skimming over a passage, these steps will help you think about the text and better see how it fits into the story of the bible and your life.

Howdy Ho!

Hey Friends,

I’m so glad that you are interested in what’s happening at Kent Chi Alpha! I believe that this is going to be a significant year for us, and unlike any that we have had before. We are praying for healthy growth in all kinds of crazy ways. Jesus has some great things planned for us to do, and through our lives we will write some great stories together!

The best way for you to get involved with everything is to simply be FAT (sounds good right?). That actually stands for something; Faithful, Available, and Teachable. Be intentional with Chi Alpha (and Jesus) this year. Plan to be around and committed to stuff, make space in your schedule. Do your homework ahead of time so you can be a part. Watch less netflix so you can do the things that matter most. Always be willing to learn, unlearn, and learn again! Start early with some good rhythms these first few weeks of the semester, and they will turn into healthy habits for your life!

I’m excited to make loads of new friends and have lots of fun this year! Check the calendar for our weekly rhythms and other events. We are making some cool changes this semester (for the better) and will be talking more about them the coming weeks. I love you guys and can’t wait to see you at Blastoff and our first Story Time! 🙂Screen Shot 2016-08-17 at 11.04.17 AM.png

Photo on 8-16-16 at 12.31 PM #2

The ANTIsumers

Did you grow up in the United States? If so, then you are probably a habitual consumer. Consuming isn’t necessarily a bad thing (gotta eat to live), but the way that most of us Mericans do it needs some calling out. We consume constantly. We think we need stuff, deserve stuff, and want stuff (the billions spent on marketing us works rather well). We unthinkingly consume for all kinds of reasons like acceptance, confidence, satisfaction, pleasure, pride, etc… At some level, the Lordship of Christ is being subverted by our attempt to build identity on something other than Jesus.

Jesus said this in Luke 12:15

“One’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

That’s a hard pill to swallow in the culture we are in. But that is what God in living flesh tells us! He lived that out for us to see as well. Jesus was an antisumer (made up word for being  anti-consumer), and I think he wants us all to be antisumers as well.

Think about it. A lot of people have laid consumerism over top of their spirituality. Without realizing it we pick ministries to be involved in by using the same reasoning that we pick our shoes, cars, pots, and pants. As a consumer we wonder what place is the coolest, has the best quality, and most beneficial to me. We think about what the community has to offer me, ultimately trying to decide where I can get the best bang for my buck. But Jesus lived differently. He lived for the community, not the community for him. Jesus built a movement, not on the backs of consumers, but on those who did stuff. On those who were willing to give everything for him (see this clip of Alan Hirsch for more).

Can we as XA respond to all of this in a healthy way? Let’s start with becoming aware of what happens in our hearts as we consume. Let’s block out the heavy pull of marketers to own us and create unhealthy desires in us. Lets choose to be antisumers, building our identities not on stuff we buy but on Jesus. Let’s listen to what he is telling us to do, and then do it.