Apprenticeship With Jesus: Day 13

For Lent, I am walking us through a book called Apprenticeship With Jesus. You can follow along by reading my highlights and reflections. Extensive previews of the book, including excerpts, can be found through Google Books and Amazon, as well as eBook purchasing options.

Day 13: Life Is Too Long: When The Journey of Salvation Becomes Mechanical

– American Christians settle for an experience of God instead of learning to live our lives with God

–  “We have made it where Christ may be received without any special love for Him in the soul of the receiver” – A.W. Tozer

–  At the center of the universe is a relationship, at the center of existence is community

– We would rather play forgiven sinner than be an apprentice of Jesus

– The Christian life is an interactive and transforming friendship with God

I have been on a mission for several years now to express spiritual formation and discipleship as a common aspect of the Christian life. Just as common as attending church or reading your Bible. Still, people often see discipleship as a mere add on that isn’t a neccesity or even a requirement. How is this mentality expressing our love for God? We love him enough to sing praises to him on a Sunday morning but not live a life that reflects that love? That does not make any sense to me and that is why I am drawn to books such as this one.

Apprentice Activity: Lets Get Real

–  Read over John 10:10

–   Ask yourself if you are experiencing the “abundant life” of God

Confess to God where you are missing the abundant life, where you fail to be in conversation with your Master, and how you have reduced life with God to something else.

– Quiet yourself to hear a reply from God

The key part of John 10:10 for me is not the part about Jesus giving life and life more abundantly but the part about what Satan plans to do. Satan wants to steal, kill, and destroy. That is what strikes me and reminds me that the things of this world are just tools of Satan to destroy my life but the things of God will give me a life beyond anything that I can understand and appreciate. To make the contrast of Satan’s ways and God’s ways leaves me desperately seeking God and his Kingdom.

What is Jesus teaching me? Dallas Willard talks about a pattern of change that works. He calls it the VIM pattern. Vision, Intention, and Means. We all can guess at the means but we struggle with the vision and the intention. I feel that through this study, God has been giving me a deeper vision of what my life can look like when it is transformed by Christ. This chapter details how mechanical our view of salvation often is and develops in me a dream of my life enriched and empowered by the transformative power of Jesus.

Are you just a forgiven sinner that is missing an interactive relationship with Christ? Do you consider God as your friend?

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Apprenticeship With Jesus: Day 12

For Lent, I am walking us through a book called Apprenticeship With Jesus. You can follow along by reading my highlights and reflections. Extensive previews of the book, including excerpts, can be found through Google Books and Amazon, as well as eBook purchasing options.

Day 12: The Beautiful: A New Vision of Me

–  Change is about coming out of hiding and accepting our true identity

–  We are already made in the image of God now we can become heirs of God

–  Change is not easy but it is possible

I really believe that many Christians think that change into Christlikeness is beyond their reach. Jesus never doubted the possibility for change in his followers. If he did, he wouldn’t have hung around the rag-tag group that he did. He wouldn’t have called out the poor in the spirit and the meek for blessing. Change has nothing to do with who we are but everything to do with who Jesus is. Change is possible, I can attest to it.

Apprentice Activity: People Can Change

–  Make a list of people you know who’ve made a significant and positive change in their life

–   Have lunch with one of the people from your list and ask them the secret to change

Note the things that worked for them

If you have grown up in the church then you are familiar with the “top that testimony” phenomenon that often happens in youth groups. Share time in small groups turns into who can tell the most sensational story. My experience among young adults is somewhat the opposite. No longer do individuals want the attention that comes from their tortured past because it is more important to project a “good face” and the appearance of a good life. Adults need to find more opportunities to tell each other what God is doing in their life. This exercise could be very helpful in that regard.

What is Jesus teaching me? That change is sometimes a quick process and sometimes a slow process. I can point you to specific aspects of my life that have been changed by Christ and then I can point you to other aspects that have seen slow changes. I have learned not to keep score and trust God that as long as I am willing to change and asking for change then He will continue to work on me. Though I still struggle with certain things, I look back and see more and more of the overall person that Christ is trying to build in me. If all of my pains and struggles were removed then I wouldn’t be the person I am today.

Have you beat yourself up over your spiritual failures? Are you frustrated with the change process? Do you believe that change is possible?

Apprenticeship With Jesus: Day 11

For Lent, I am walking us through a book called Apprenticeship With Jesus. You can follow along by reading my highlights and reflections. Extensive previews of the book, including excerpts, can be found through Google Books and Amazon, as well as eBook purchasing options.

Day 11: The Ugly: Accepting My Personal Altar

– Romans 12:1 – 1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.

–  The only way to keep Jesus’ commandments is to place oneself on an altar as a living sacrifice, crying out to God in humility and helplessness

–  Three mountain peak moments of scripture – Abraham’s faith with his son Isaac (Genesis 22), Mary’s faith (Luke 1), Jesus in the garden (Matthew 26, Luke 22)

–  Choice of willingness over wilfulness

– Mariana Trench of Scripture – Garden of Eden and most of the rest of scripture and our own lives

Another passage that could be included as a Mountain Peak passage is the story of Peter walking on water (Matthew 14: 22-33). When he was focused on Jesus he was walking on top of the water but when he lost his  focus he couldn’t do it. When the waves became too big and the wind too strong, Peter became distracted and began to sink and he cries out to Jesus to save him. Of course Jesus reaches out his hand and saves Peter. Working through us, Jesus can perform miracles, on our own we are as good as drowned.

Apprentice Activity: Living Sacrifices

–  To be human in the truest sense = Love God above all, to trust and obey him

–   Quiet yourself and then slowly read through the Mountain Peak Passages – Gen. 22:1-14/ Luke 1:26-38/ Matt. 26: 36-42/ Romans 12:1

– Ask God to share with you whatever he wants regarding the meaning of these passages

What is harder, reading through these passages or quieting yourself to slowly read them? If our mind and heart are not ready to receive the scripture then it does no good to read through it. How do you know when you are ready to receive scripture? I think it is when you can read slowly. Much of our daily technology driven reading is quick and involves skimming. When we take that approach to scripture we will get nothing out of it. I am speaking to myself on this.

What is Jesus teaching me? What does it mean to be human? I have heard similar thoughts as the one above about the truest sense of being human and it has always surprised me. I guess I hear so often about the sinfulness of our humanity that I forget that when God created humans he had something else in mind than what Adam and Eve chose for themselves. And so for us to match God’s intent for humanity is to love him, commune with him, and live in trust of him. I want to be human in the truest sense today.

Do you have trouble loving God and obeying him? Have you chosen your own version of humanity?

Apprenticeship With Jesus: Day 10

For Lent, I am walking us through a book called Apprenticeship With Jesus. You can follow along by reading my highlights and reflections. Extensive previews of the book, including excerpts, can be found through Google Books and Amazon, as well as eBook purchasing options.

Day 10: The Bad: I Am Worse Than I Can Imagine

–  Honesty is the starting block for change

–  “The intelligent person recognizes that his or her well being lies in being in harmony with God and with what God is doing” – Dallas Willard

–  Essence of sin – that God does not have our best interest at heart

– Find the honesty to admit utter ruin that results from living severed from the energy of God

I cannot tell you how crucial the concept of sin expressed in this reading has been for me. The idea that we have to take care of ourselves because God doesn’t know what is best for us is so much more transforming than listing a bunch of activities that we know God hates. I can think of direct times in my life, some even this week, when I overcame temptation simply by asking myself, “Do I believe that God knows what he is doing regarding this particular situation or I am I going to reject Him and take matters in my own hands?”

Apprentice Activity: Owning the Bad

– Apart from God the soul is ruined

–   Find a quiet place and think about how your life runs when you are in control

Ask these two questions:

How do things go in my life when I am in control instead of God?

What are the ways that I can make sure I am allowing God to be God – today?

The crux of this chapter has been on honesty. In order to achieve change, you must be able to recognize where change is needed and why it has been so difficult to change. This activity will certainly help us become more honest but I wonder if some of us are truly able to be honest with ourselves? I wonder if we all might need a little outside help, maybe from a trusted friend or family member?

What is Jesus teaching me? Give up control. Give up control. Give up control. The more control I have on my life the less I am walking with Christ in this apprentice relationship. I remember a low point in my life a few years ago when I felt that I had so little control over my life that I was determined to train our dog simply to show that I could control something. It didn’t work. I let myself get more discouraged instead of falling at the feet of Jesus and giving up my will for the chance to walk in his.

What do you need to turn over to God? Do you believe that God has your best interest at heart? Do you believe that God knows what he is doing?

Apprenticeship With Jesus: Day 9

For Lent, I am walking us through a book called Apprenticeship With Jesus. You can follow along by reading my highlights and reflections. Extensive previews of the book, including excerpts, can be found through Google Books and Amazon, as well as eBook purchasing options.

Day 9: The Good: I Am Better Than I Think

–  “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal.” – C.S. Lewis

–  We all have a seed of divinity inside – the Imago Dei, the image of God

–  Image of God = all of the God like qualities that enable human beings to reflect divine character

– We are most like God when all of our components are working in harmony to produce creativity, compassion, and community

If Lewis is right and there is no such thing as a mere mortal or if we all possess the image of God then it is scary to think of what a sorry job we all have done with that divine seed. Especially those of us who follow Christ and understand how God views humanity. How convicting to think there are elements of divinity embedded within us yet we chase after everything that is counter to God and against his nature.

Apprentice Activity: Seeing the Beautiful In Others and Ourselves

Here is C.S. Lewis’ Weight of Glory sermon

–   Go to the last page (p. 9) and in the last column in the middle of the page you will see a section that says, “You have never talked to a mere mortal…”

– Slowly read from this point to the end of the sermon

– Use the rest of the day viewing others differently in light of the awareness of their divine spark. May you begin to treat others in a way that understands their possession of the Image of God

We are such creatures of habit and view certain situations so rigidly. Our interactions with others when we are driving has a certain take to it. Our interactions at a restaurant is similar to everytime we have ever stepped foot in a restaurant. We may find ourselves treating people a certain way at Wal-Mart that we would never at church. In other words, during this activity, I had to intentionally jolt myself away from my natural pattern of interactions in certain situations to remind myself that these people in front of me are made in the image of God. It was much harder than I expected.

What is Jesus teaching me? I realized through this activity that I spend much of my day in fear of other people. No, I don’t have some weird social anxiety but I am constantly fearful that someone is going to demand something from me that I can’t deliver. It was pretty disheartening how ungracious  I am at times because I think everyone wants something from me. This shows how little trust I have in God for my interactions with others.

How do you respond to others? Do you treat others as if they were “mere mortals” or do you view them as keepers of the very Image of God?

 

Apprenticeship With Jesus: Day 8

For Lent, I am walking us through a book called Apprenticeship With Jesus. You can follow along by reading my highlights and reflections. Extensive previews of the book, including excerpts, can be found through Google Books and Amazon, as well as eBook purchasing options.

Day 8: Tapping Into The Force: Christ Incarnate In Me

–  Secret to living well – learning to let go of personal power and control and tap into the energy of God.

–  Man does not live by bread alone is a reference to living by the Spirit of God

–  We need less of our own power and more of the power of God

– Learn from the mistakes we have made with our own power

I have often been frustrated in my Christian existence by what seems like a multitude of emphasis to choose from. But slowly I am learning that the Christian life can be summed up with Love God, Love Others and Quit Trying To Run Your Life On Your Own. There is just something about our nature that just screams, “I got this.” What we need to be screaming is, “You got this. I am just going to submit to the with-God life and we are going to do this together.”

Apprentice Activity: Using The Energy of the Kingdom

–  Bring to mind one difficulty you are having in a relationship

–   Say to God: “For the rest of the day- or the next few days – I want to avoid using my ability to control or manage the situation. Instead I want to tap into the energy of your Kingdom.”

– Invite God to work through you in a relationship

I teach a class that only meets twice a month and most of our interactions are online. I haven’t felt connected with this group of students and I feel that there is an unusual level of distrust between them and me. I want them to feel comfortable in the class and in relation to me. I want to see what God desires for this class and what he can accomplish through me. I don’t want to rely on my cleverness or efforts anymore.

What is Jesus teaching me? Here is a statement that I make in the “About” section of this blog: God has provided an abundance of tools and resources to help us grow in Christ and I would like to help others, just like me, tap into these resources and see Christ work in their lives in ways they only dreamed of.

I truly believe this and can testify how this has helped in my own life. One area of discovery has been a sense of freedom. To not be so enchained by my own sin and limitations but to turn these things over to God for him to handle is pure freedom. I didn’t need vast theological understanding or Biblical scholarship to just begin turning more and more of my life into God’s hands. All it takes is a choice and God does the rest.

Are you still holding on to your life? Are you reluctant to let go of things and aspects of your life? What can God do much better than you?

 

Apprenticeship With Jesus: Day 7

For Lent, I am walking us through a book called Apprenticeship With Jesus. You can follow along by reading my highlights and reflections. Extensive previews of the book, including excerpts, can be found through Google Books and Amazon, as well as eBook purchasing options.

Day 7: Emulating the Master’s Creativity: The Joy of Originality

–  Three most common character traits of God – creative, compassionate, and community

–  To be God’s apprentice means, among other things, to be our most creative selves because he is creative

–  God has made us to experience joy in imitating his creative activity

When thinking about being an apprentice of Jesus, one would not immediately think about becoming more creative. Being creative is one of God’s most enjoyable things to do. The Bible tells us that each day of God’s creation included a time when God admired what he had created and said that it was good. If you think about it though, are there more enjoyably proud moments than when something that you had a hand in creating comes to fruition? This pride isn’t self centeredness but joy similar to God’s joy in his creation.

Apprentice Activity: Being Creative “with God”

–  Make a list of everything you do that is creative

–   Ask yourself, “Which of these creative tasks is most life giving?”

Narrow your list to one and find some time to be creative “with-God”

I have a huge interest in music and have some friends who are really good at it. I admire the ability to create a song with an enjoyable melody and piercing lyrics. Occasionally, I will try to write up a song. Here is one song, entitled “Mega Church Blues,” that I wrote the lyrics to and my friend David put to music. Besides music, I just enjoy writing, as you can tell if you have visited this blog very often. Some things just come to me and I enjoy playing around with the ideas. It is fun. For example, here is my Guide to Selecting A Rock Band Name:

1. You can not use numbers in your name

2. You can not use interstellar references (planet, star, rockets, etc.)
3. Words big and super can not be used at any time. Neither can small or little.
4. No quality band has ever used the name path of adding “and.” Such as Echo and the Bunnymen, Homer Hickam and the Rocketboys, etc.
5. You cannot use colors in your name
6. Try to use a two word name. These are easy to remember and roll off the tongue with ease. Smashing Pumpkins, Pearl Jam, Rolling Stones, Beach Boys, Public Enemy.
7. The longer the name the more chance of obscurity. Indie band names keep getting longer and longer for some reason.
8. Animal references are to be used sparingly. How many wolf and bear bands have come out in the last 10 years? Too many to name.
9. The best place to find names is in songs from your favorite band. There used to be a band named the Barefoot Servants which was named from a line in the Dylan song All Along the Watchtower.
10. Do not use references to famous people. Yule’s Big Blue Brenner is a terrible name.
11. Unless you are bilingual, do not use Los in your name.

What is Jesus teaching me? I have tried to honor God by this blog. I have struggled with whether or not I make this blog more about me than about God and his glory. The lesson today gave me some reassurance that my efforts in creating, designing, and managing this blog are my way of emulating God’s creativity. I thank God for this opportunity and how he has used this venture to help grow me and transform me and hopefully benefit others.

What do you learn about God through your creative moments? How can creativity be a way to worship God?

Apprenticeship With Jesus: Day 6

For Lent, I am walking us through a book called Apprenticeship With Jesus. You can follow along by reading my highlights and reflections. Extensive previews of the book, including excerpts, can be found through Google Booksand Amazon, as well as eBook purchasing options.

Day 6: Love Is God’s Money: Compassion As The Economy of the Trinity

–  1 John 4:16 –  And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.

–  We are created to love and be loved in return

–  Self-forgetful love brings pure joy

–  The key to joyfulness is the spiritual power of the Trinity, self-forgetful love

Though you never want to be in the habit of reducing God, scripture does it for us with its mention of God as love. To be created in God’s image is to be created in love and for love. Americans especially think that something that is more complicated is more valuable. Though God is complex and a mystery, we can understand him and his ways by just understanding love.

Apprentice Activity: Getting Into The Flow  — With Simple Acts of Kindness

–  Other-focused love has great benefit to our souls

–  Think of three people you can surprise today with a simple act of kindness. Then ask God to help you carry out your plan. Notice how it feels to become lost in other-focused love.

I failed on this activity for a couple of reasons. I still intend to do it but at the time I failed to make it happen. For one reason, I was not feeling well. I was feeling drained, I was dealing with severe allergies, and stomach problems. If you want to have a disruption to your spiritual life, then just get sick. You other-focused mentality quickly becomes self-focused.

Another reason that I failed was because I was too busy. There was too much going on at home and with activities involving the home that I was running around too much to even focus on helping others. I hope that acts of kindness are a natural part of my life that I don’t have to have set moments to participate in kindness but I know that I could have been more intentional in response to this activity.

What is Jesus teaching me? I am slowly learning how to step into the Trinity and trust. I don’t know if this example will make any sense but on Saturday I found my self just trusting God for my daily energy, concentration, and security. I took the reigns off my controlling nature  involving time and my to do list and just trusted God. Though my day was busy and filled with many activities, I just had a calm about me and a confidence that God knew what he was doing. I ended up having the time and the energy to get done what I needed to get done plus do some things that I enjoy.

What part of your life do you need to hand over to God? As a Christian, you have already trusted God for your salvation but have you trusted him for your life?

Apprenticeship With Jesus: Day 5

For Lent, I am walking us through a book called Apprenticeship With Jesus. You can follow along by reading my highlights and reflections. Extensive previews of the book, including excerpts, can be found through Google Booksand Amazon, as well as eBook purchasing options.

Day 5: Desiring to Dance With The Trinity: God as Joy in Motion

–  At the center of the universe is a relationship…a loving community known as the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit)

–  This Trinitarian framework is a community of love

–  Each member of the Trinity interacts with the other members with mutual love and delight

–  God is not static but a life or a kind of drama – a dance

– We are called to enter the dance

– More than pious productivity, we are called to learn to dance with God and value loving relationships

– Within the dance you do not feel alone, lost, or confused

What Moon is trying to say with all of this talk of  “the drama” and “the dance” is that the Trinity is the perfect example of proper community and relationship. In the Trinity we learn about submission, mutual respect, and unity. Moon wants the reader to understand that to fully become changed we must become immersed in this Trinitarian framework.

I find this hard to grasp and visualize in my own life. But, the robust and dynamic way of looking at the Trinity is profound and worthy of more attention from me. We hear few sermons or studies on the Trinity and when we do it is more to explain what each member of the Trinity does as opposed to how they work together in a community.

Apprentice Activity: Re-visioning The Trinity

–  Find a quiet place and read Jesus prayer for his disciples (John 17). Then slowly re-read both John 17:3 and 17:20-23

–  Jesus’ only description of eternal life is found in verse 3.

– Joy is a dominant theme that surrounds Jesus

Find a mirror and say the following to yourself:

“I am an apprentice of Jesus Christ, and I can live the rest of my life “with God,” in interactive relationship, receiving help, advice from God, joining in the dance of the Trinity.”

In the reading from John 17,  Jesus prays for the following: for his followers to be ‘kept in the name,’ to be one, to have ‘my joy fulfilled in them,’ to be kept from the evil one, to be sanctified in the truth, to be one just as ‘you and I are one’, and to see the glory ‘which you have given me’. What a list and to think that Jesus prays that for us, even now.

In this blog, I often stress taking smaller chunks of scripture and meditating over them rather than having marathon Bible reading sessions. I could spend weeks pouring over John 17 and meditating over its richness. I encourage you to read this passage over and over this week. It is not a one sitting reading. It will take a lifetime to understand Jesus’ deep love and care found in this prayer.

What is Jesus teaching me? I think becoming like Jesus is a difficult thing to do but it is not impossible. In fact, it is highly possible once I understand what all has already been done in my behalf to make it a possibility. Just rereading the prayer of Jesus and to think that he is voicing this prayer over and over for his people should give us the hope we need that we can change not because of what we are doing but because of what Jesus and the Holy Spirit are doing in us. We have unbelievable resources working on our behalf and at our disposal. We need to move into this reality and live beyond spiritual doubt, fatalism, and frustration. There is no room for these things in the Kingdom of God.

What has held you back from the confidence that you can become closer to God? Do you know what Christ has done for you to bring you the ‘with-God’ life?

Apprenticeship With Jesus: Day 4

For Lent, I am walking us through a book called Apprenticeship With Jesus. You can follow along by reading my highlights and reflections. Extensive previews of the book, including excerpts, can be found through Google Booksand Amazon, as well as eBook purchasing options.

Day 4: Becoming Odd For God: Divine Cultural Exchange Program

–  We are all aliens and strangers in the world (1 Peter 2:10)

–  Jesus was trying to find followers who would be willing to exchange their ways (those of the world) for his (the culture of the kingdom)

– The American Church has let us off the hook – there is no need to be different, just blend in to the culture and give a few things to the church such as time, money, singing, etc.

–  Mission of Jesus – introduce the kingdom, invite people in, learn how to approach life

– The world is about me, fear, pride, and willful determination while the Kingdom is about we, love, humility, the With-God life, and being willingly obedient.

There are less and less Americans who are claiming to be Christian. This is not such a bad thing. It is no longer common for the average American to list Christianity as their default religion. In other words, the nominal Christian who in the past would simply mark the Christian box on a survey don’t feel the need to do that anymore.

All of this to say that it is no longer culturally acceptable to be a Christian and those that truly follow Jesus and try to be obedient will stick out  and be noticeable. We are becoming more and more like “aliens and strangers in the world” and this is a good thing.

Apprentice Activity: A Meditation On Being Odd

–  Reflect on the two cultures – the world and the kingdom

–  Slowly read A.W. Tozer’s meditation on becoming odd:

“A real Christian is an odd number anyway.
He feels supreme love for One whom he has never seen,
talks familiarly every day to Someone he cannot see,
expects to go to heaven on the virtue of Another,
empties himself in order to be full,
admits he is wrong so he can be declared right,
goes down in order to get up,
is strongest when he is weakest,
richest when he is poorest,
and happiest when he feels worst.
He dies so he can live,
forsakes in order to have,
gives away so he can keep,
sees the invisible,
hears the inaudible,
and knows that which passes knowledge.”  –  A. W. Tozer

–  Thank God that you have been invited into the greatest adventure of your life, an apprenticeship for life in the kingdom

Any activity that reminds us that we are called to make Jesus ways our ways at the expense of the world’s ways is a much needed activity. I am tired of seeing Christians who do not see how their faith in Jesus changes everything. How they work, play, love, do chores, plan a meeting, and everything else.

What is Jesus teaching me? I am convicted to ask this question of my life. “Is the version of Christianity that I am living out true to Christ’s vision for my life?” Sometimes I think that I am trying to fit a certain identity rather than trying to truly live the way that Jesus would live if he were I. I don’t want to live my Christian life trying to imitate my favorite writer or trying to be “cool” in my faith. Lord, may my faith be free of falseness. Strip my life of  everything except your will and mind.

Does your faith need to be free of falseness? Has even your Christian life been divided into areas that Christ has not dwelled?