According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – anon
Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – anon
Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson
We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord
Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

Saturday, November 17, 2012

What Is the Number One Obstacle in Living for Jesus?

Jesus Doesn't Want You to Be Afraid
By: Adam and Christine Jeske
November 12, 2012
 Three weeks ago, I asked several hundred college students a question:
What is your biggest obstacle today to giving your whole life for God’s global mission?
Let me be clear, as I was that day—I wasn’t asking about dropping out of society, selling everything, and moving to Turkmenistan (although that was fair game).
Rather, I explained that giving your whole life for God’s global mission is being fully given over to God’s purposes in the world. If you’re following Jesus' calling, you can serve God just as well as a businessperson in the U.S. as a church planter in Sri Lanka.
I had people text me their biggest obstacles to fully following Jesus. Some answers were not very surprising: selfishness, busyness, lust, health issues, lack of self-discipline, and materialism.
And the Number One Obstacle Is . . .
But one answer stood out, named by a quarter of those responding as their biggest obstacle to giving their whole life to global mission: fear.
These students—and Christians, no less—were afraid of everything:
  • Being alone
  • Failing
  • Being uncomfortable
  • Not knowing where they’re going or what they’re doing
  • Entering a new culture
  • What their parents would say
  • Not hearing God correctly
  • Not being good enough
  • Being unprepared spiritually
  • Not speaking well
  • Being too broken
I couldn’t believe it. Fear is the biggest obstacle to these followers of Jesus fully joining in his mission, whether here in the U.S. or anywhere in the world. How did this happen?
Real Reasons for Fear (Escalators Not Included)
We know there are people around the world with seriously fearful surroundings—gnawing hunger, no education for their children, violent crime, unjust local officials, unhealthy water, and spreading disease.
And most of us know, when we’re logical about it, that a lot of our fears here in the West are wildly spun out of control. We find TV reports like, “The Hidden Dangers of Escalators.” Really?
And then there are big fears. At the end of it all, we are dead. And that scares us. So we run around trying to do whatever we can to preserve our lives, whether through work, success, family, relationships, art, or health. It makes sense to me that people who don’t know Jesus would be afraid. We hear messages all day saying, “If you’re not afraid of all these things, you’re not normal.”
A Call to Abnormality (Yes, This Includes You)
But I thought that’s exactly what Christians are supposed to be—not normal.
Think about what we read in the Bible:
  • “The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1).
  • “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).
  • “The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry,’Abba, Father’” (Romans 8:15).
  • “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7).
  • And perhaps most pointedly: “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love” (1 John 4:18).
Admittedly, we are outliers on this one. We got married while we were still college students. A year later, we boarded a plane for Nicaragua with a vague connection to a friend of a friend that we hoped would meet us when we arrived. We lived without power, water or transportation. We took our baby daughter to the most polluted city in the world, Lanzhou, China. We rode motorcycles across southern Africa.
That doesn’t mean we didn’t get scared. We got scared when Adam’s amoebas wouldn’t go away in Nicaragua and then his already weak body picked up malaria. Or when we blew black snot out of our noses in China. Or when our neighborhood had its third break-in within a month in South Africa (where you’re 20 times more likely to get murdered by gunshot than in the U.S.), and then Chrissy found police dealing with a dead body down the street.
But do you think God didn’t really mean that stuff about fear in the Bible? When you get scared, you have to do something about it. Naming it helps. Reading and claiming these biblical reminders can helps. Praying light-saber prayers that cut your fears to pieces can help.
As we wrestled with trying to follow Jesus here in the U.S., Chrissy wrote a chapter on fear in This Ordinary Adventure: Settling Down Without Settling. She said fear is like underwear. Everyone’s putting it on every day and keeping it politely covered up.
Here’s your chance to bring your fear out into the light.
A Step Through Our Fear
The hundreds of Christians I spoke to named fear as the greatest obstacle to joining in God's global mission. And, truth be told, there is good reason to be afraid. I work for Urbana. Each year, we hear about Urbana alumni who have suffered and even been martyred for their faithful proclamation of Jesus Christ, even while serving obvious needs in hard places around the world. Jesus' call to give up everything we have (Luke 14:33)—the call to follow the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and the call to take up your cross and step into God's global mission—is not to be taken lightly. But a life of playing it safe rarely results in God being glorified or our neighbors being loved.
So. What are you afraid of? Name it as a first step in facing your fear. And then ask God—the stronghold of your life—if you should go to Urbana as a next step in facing your fear and being open to his mission for your life, whatever it might be.

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