Dojo Session #2b: Nurturing Spiritual Hunger [TRUST]

Challenge:

:: Prayer: “Lord, what about my life do you want me to trust you with?”
:: Prayer: “How do you want me to do so?”
:: OBEY

Overview:

Intimacy with God is hard to teach. Because intimacy is something to be experienced, not learned. You can never collect enough data on jumping out of airplane or savoring a slice of tiramisu or enjoying the bliss of being in love. So how is knowledge and experience bridged? It’s bridged by trust.

And the truth is that we can’t love without it. We speak often about “loving God” being at the top. But how can you love someone you can’t trust? The lack of trust will always keep you at a distance. And for many of us who claim to follow Jesus, it’s the exact thing that’s been keeping us from really experiencing God.

Trust [in relation to God] essentially means this: I put my possessions… my worth… my life into your hands. And I will follow your leading over my own. Even Jesus had to do it. Mark 14:36, Jesus says:

“Abba Father, everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

My own little paraphrase is this:

“Daddy, you can do anything. If it were up to me, I’d like not to die. But your way is better than mine.”

It’s a very human moment for Jesus, one we’ve all been through and will encounter again in our lives. When God whispers into our ear and asks, “Will you trust that my way is better than yours?” Will we trust he’s knows what’s best? Will be embrace whatever he’s got whether we want it or not?

If you were Jesus, you wouldn’t want to die either. But why did he die? In Hebrews 12 it says that he did it for the “joy set before him.” What does that mean? Maybe he did it because he knew that his death would bring life to the ones he loved. Or maybe he did it because he just wanted to do what his father told him to do. Maybe both… either way he made a decision. And his decision was that he trusted that God’s way was better than his. And because of that we live.

If you’re going to experience Jesus… you will need to follow him. If you’re going to follow him… you will need to trust him. Go places that you may not always want to go. Do things that may not always make sense. Believe in things that may not have happened yet. But in that you will experience God and the breadth of his character and the depth of his love in ways you may never have before.

It’s a hard teaching – but the essence of Jesus, what he did, what he’s about, his call for us is this:

“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.¬†For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.”

Essentially it means this:

“Following Jesus… trusting him… will lead to your utter destruction. But your utter destruction will lead to life. Life for you and for those around you.”

Blessings to you this month as you hear his voice and begin to ruthlessly trust him with everything that you are.

Questions? Comment!

Dojo Session #7: Self-Leadership

DOJO – December 2009

Many of us move from spiritual high to spiritual high wondering why we can’t just be spiritually baked all the time. If you live that way you soon realize that you can’t avoid the struggles, the heartbreaks, the failures. The highs are beautiful and needed and God is gracious to give them. But God is gracious to give the low times as well… because it’s these times that God uses to restore, remake and refine the child he loves… you and me.

So how do we “lead ourselves” during both the highs and lows so that we are moving towards being more loved by God, loving him back and tangibly loving the world? Or maybe simply…

How do I grow during both the highs and lows?

We’ve spent other DOJO’s talking about nurturing our lives through spiritual disciplines [ie. Bible reading, prayer, fasting, etc.]. And we’ll come back to that again. But some basic tenets to begin with:

+ Growing is fueled by a spirit of SURRENDER. > Romans 8:1-8

So often struggles in life [regardless of whether it’s brought on by us] reveal areas where we hold on to too much control. And God, responding as a loving-father, uses these times to loosen our grip and help us to trust His lead for our lives. Yield to his control… learn to let go.

+ Growing is allowing God to bring correction. > Hebrews 12:1-11

God’s most loving act is often to point out our most glaring weakness. It’s His heart to train, build up and correct for the good of ourselves and those around us. Which means that our mistakes become the most fertile soil for growth. Listen for what God wants to say especially during times when you mess it up.

+ Growing is trusting Jesus over the circumstance. > Philippians 4:13

We don’t learn contentment when things are going well. In fact we often settle into greater dissatisfaction [ie. American consumerism]. We learn contentment when we don’t have what we want… and that’s when we learn authentic faith and a genuine trust for a God that is bigger than our circumstances.

+ Growing is believing God is doing a work in you. > Romans 8:28-30

God has NOT given up on us. And He won’t until He’s finished. We often deal with parental-figures who are always calling out our flaws. Thankfully God never forgets to see our potential and will never tire of helping us get there. Even when we don’t see our growth, He does. Believe it.

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Dojo Session #2: Nurturing Our Spiritual Hunger

Challenge for the month:

>> 10 minutes EVERYDAY with God.
>> Share with 2 people what you believe and why you believe it.

Read on for more detail on this and what we covered.

OVERVIEW

  1. Everything Revolves Around the Gospel – As a continuation from last time, we discussed how everything revolves around Jesus’ life, death and resurrection [we call this “the Gospel” – the message that God sent his Son to take our place in paying the penalty for our sins and restoring us to new life through his resurrection].
  2. What Separates us from God – We often think it’s the endless things that we do wrong. But what separates us from God is that we replace him in our lives with either ourselves or “things”. This can be analogized with a husband who gives the love that belongs to his wife to another woman or even his career. Or a son who rebuffs the authority and embrace of his father and goes his own way.
  3. Who/What is Your Functional Savior? – If we’ve pushed God from his rightful place in our lives and replaced him with something else… what is it? One question that may help us discern, “What is the one thing that if you lost it, you’d find little hope to live?” That my be the thing.

NURTURING SPIRITUAL HUNGER – FEEDING OURSELVES

  1. AW Tozer – Your faith is never really real unless you encounter God alone.
  2. Spiritual Disciplines – It is often a battle of the wills… to sit and wait on God… instead of God waiting on you.
  3. Learn to Savor God’s Voice, Listening for Him, Enjoying Him – The goal is not just to have the Bible read or have spent enough time in prayer. It’s time spent with Father, with the one who loves you unconditionally.
  4. When you hear something, when God asks you to do something… DO IT.
  5. Nurturing Our Souls is Much Like FARMING – You plant the seed, water it, get up early the next day and do the same thing. You may not get much yield in the beginning. But as you faithfully plant and water and trim, you will yield a harvest.
  6. Simple Questions as You Read the Bible:
    >> What does this teach me about God/Jesus?
    >> What does this teach me about People/Myself?
    >> What am I supposed to do?

CHALLENGE

  1. 10 Minutes EVERYDAY
    Spend at least 10 minutes everyday with God… this would include reading through Scripture. This would also include days where you are stopping what you’re doing to be in silence, listening, conversing, interacting with God. 10 minutes every day. Begins now.

  2. Share What You Believe and Why You Believe It with 2
    Great sharing this past Sunday… keep it on, we’ll ask again next time.

Questions/comments? Throw them out in the comments… thanks folks.

Dojo Session #1: Bible Overview and Being God’s Son/Daughter

Here’s an overview of what we covered at Dojo Session #1. And YES, we’re going to drop “discipleship/leadership training” and go with the simple name of “DOJO”. Why? Because the other name is long and boring. And this one communicates more simply what we’re trying to do. The Dojo is the place where students of the martial arts come and train. They receive instruction, practice their forms and prepare themselves to do battle in the real world. Sounds right huh?

Overview of Material:

  • The Entire Bible Points Toward Jesus – The entire Bible [OT and NT] points towards Jesus’ life/death/resurrection AND his promise to return and redeem the world. As we read the Bible, we should look for how it paints a fuller picture of Jesus <Luke 24:44-46>.
  • The Gospel = MANGER + CROSS + CROWN – The essential message of Jesus can be summarized by God coming in the form of man to sacrificially take upon himself the guilt/shame/death we deserve from our sin through his death on the cross. He did it because he loved us and because we can do nothing to save ourselves. And he promises to come back to be the final judge and restore people and creation to what he intended <Philippians 2; Ephesians 2:4; Revelations 21>.
  • Result of Jesus’ Sacrifice: We become his SONS and DAUGHTERS – Jesus’ sacrifice restores our true identity [which was marred by sin/rebellion]… reuniting us back to the Father as his SONS and DAUGHTERS <John 1:12>. TRUTH: Because of Jesus, we are God’s beloved sons and daughters.

Questions to Ponder:

  • What are the life messages we’ve accumulated from our fathers, mothers and earthquake events in life? [ie. I’m not worth anything. More money equals more security. I have to be perfect to be loved or respected. Failure is final. Others’ opinions determine my worth/value.]
  • How do these messages conflict with the message of Jesus? …with the essential message that we are loved not because of what we’ve done, but just because he does… that our salvation can’t be earned or bought… but is given completely by God as a gift of grace. Is there a conflict? If so, how?

Practice:

“I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.” <Philemon 6>

The basic gist of this verse… share the good news so that you will understand how good the good news really is.

  • Share the message of Jesus and why you believe it with 2 people [by the next time we meet for DOJO – April 5th].

This is how I want you to approach this – there’s no need to go out to the malls to share with strangers [unless you want to!]. Pray every morning, “God would you open an opportunity to share about you today.” And look… listen… for God to open a door. And when he does [and he will], share it. We all have people we regularly connect with [friends, family, co-workers, store-workers, mail/UPS workers, etc.]. When God opens the door, share with your friend about Jesus… why he means anything/everything to you. Why he’s so good… why the good news is such good news. Ask God to open doors and walk through the ones he opens.

Thanks folks – look forward to meeting back at the Dojo and practicing and preparing to live boldly in real life. QUESTIONS? Leave a comment on this post.

LENT and Training

Two Things:

LENT
Sorry for the late notice… but Lent started yesterday and it’s ok to pick it up today if you didn’t know. Lent is the 40 days prior to Easter [the day most people celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ]. The forty day period is symbolic of the forty days spent by Jesus in the wilderness and other instances of 40 day periods in the Bible. Fasting during Lent is a way to identify with Jesus’ suffering, which according the Bible, Jesus underwent for the sake of humanity,

In past years many of us chose to fast certain foods, the internet [while at home], television, etc. to not only identify with Jesus, but to sharpen our spiritual sensitivity for what God is doing. I did it with TV a few years back and my mind was clearer then it’s ever been in a long time! Two things to help you [downloadable links]:

LENT Guide – A short explanation and some guidelines on LENT and fasting.
LENTEN Reading Guide – Short readings that can be done during the 40 days, daily. When you fast something you got to replace it with something.

We will do a community wide fast the week before Easter – info to come.

<<edit – renamed DOJO>> Discipleship/Leadership Training [3/1 – SUN – 9:30am]
We will be reshaping our first Sunday gatherings and re-purposing them towards practical training in being a disciple of Jesus and being a leader in our community. Our intention has always been to integrate our faith into real life – our heart is to grow in walking with Jesus every single moment of our lives. These sessions are open to all who want to deepen their life with Jesus and live courageously in our world. Starts his Sunday, March 1st, 9:30am @ Dave’s house [923 Alegre Place, San Jose, CA 95126].