Tag Archives: decisions
How things ought to be. That’s a lot to think about. Often we are at the mercy of others deciding what ought to be. And sometimes we get to choose how things ought to be. But our desire for autonomy should be balanced by a healthy — and willing — submission to the One who knows how things ought to be. Your thoughts?
Various internet sources estimate that an adult makes about 35,000 remotely conscious decisions each day [in contrast a child who makes about 3,000] (Sahakian & Labuzetta, 2013). The choices — the decisions — we make each day add up, don’t they?
There’s a great statement from John Boykin about choices in general: “Our life is made up by the choices we make, writes John Boykin in his book The Gospel of Coincidence. He critiques the viewpoint that suggests we are victims in decision-making. “My favorite absurdity comes from a renowned historian who, describing the origins of World War I, wrote that `planning for war assumed its own momentum until 1914, military expediency dominated the decision-making process, and war declared itself.’! Whatever happens is the direct result of decisions people make and things people do. Decisions affecting your circumstances are not necessarily all made by you, by anyone available for you to argue with, by anyone recently, or by any one person alone — but they are all made by people. And groups of people are nothing but people, whether they are a congress, a mob, or a refreshments’ committee.” (The Gospel of Coincidence, p. 23)
But it’s hard to beat C.S. Lewis’ quote about the kind of people we become through our choices:
“Every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different than it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing into a heavenly creature or a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow creatures, and with itself. To be the one kind of creature is heaven: that is, it is joy and peace and knowledge and power. To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence, and eternal loneliness. Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state of the other.” (C.S. Lewis)
Rather than following the crowd in crossing a crocodile-infested stream, two wildebeests discuss their best options! This kind of dangerous crossing actually happens every year with hungry crocodiles and hippos waiting for lunch. How convenient (in this commercial) is a bridge that these two stars decide to take instead!
Decision-making. We make thousands of decisions every day. Some good. Some not so good. For believers, we can’t always escape the risks of the choices we make. But sometimes, just sometimes, God provides a bridge for us to cross to avoid unnecessary danger. Looking for any bridges today?
Friends: Thank you for staying with me through this six-part study of being a friend of Jesus. I get to do a “Theology Matters” conference with a group of young people at Dayspring Bible Camp in Missouri from August 3-5 on this critical topic.
We have already seen in our study that we need a theology which undergirds our efforts to reach lost people. We need a theology of lostness, a theology of friendship, a theology of worldliness, a theology of evangelism, and a theology of repentance!
Let’s notice this morning a sixth theology which we need to rightfully be a friend of sinners like Jesus was and that is —
VI. A Theology of INTENTIONAL LIVING!
Granted, if you were to survey a systematic textbook on various theologies, you wouldn’t find this one among them! What we mean is, if I want to be a friend of sinners, a great deal of intentionality will be required of me. I will see myself as “on mission.” I will wake up in the morning — after my requisite coffee — and ask, “Lord, is there someone today that I might befriend for Your sake? Where can I make strategic decisions to spend time with the lost and to listen to their stories?”
For me the challenge in Philippians 3 helps me here. There we read: “12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
What’s the “all this” in verse 12? In the previous section Paul spoke about “the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (v. 8). He speaks of his desire to “gain Christ” (v. 8). He longs to “be found in [Christ]” (v. 9). He want to “know Christ” (v. 10). And he wants to attain “to the resurrection from the dead” (v. 11).
In summary, Paul wants to please the Lord, to glorify Him, to count everything loss in comparison to honoring and serving Him! And that just makes sense IF the Lord Jesus is who we believe He is — the Lord of glory, the One for Whom we should live each moment, the friend of sinners!
Here are several practical steps you and I can take in becoming much more intentional in following our Lord’s example in loving the lost:
1. Repent of your past of not purposely developing relationships with lost people.
2. Begin to pray strategically for a few unsaved acquaintances who can become close friends.
3. Determine to work hard at nurturing and advancing those relationships.
4. Commit yourself to listening to the stories of your not-yet-born-again friends.
5. Ask others to pray for you — and for them!
6. Don’t hesitate to ask other Christians about their unsaved friends. And if they say they have none, go over Matthew 11:16-19 with them.
8. Make friendship evangelism a priority in your prayer meetings. Don’t allow those meetings to degenerate into mere “organ recitals” (= praying for each other’s health). Pray strategic, personal involvement prayers. Don’t pray, “Lord, save my friend John.” No! Pray, “Lord, give me an opportunity this week to have coffee with John and to ask him about his teenaged son who is on drugs.”
9. Celebrate break–throughs in relationships! Rejoice when good conversations take place. Praise the Lord with other believers when your lost friends ask good questions.
10. Do your homework. Developing serious relationships with sinners will require digging for answers to their questions. One of my friends had me over to his house for coffee and, somehow, within a few minutes he had asked me what Buddhists believe, what about those who have never heard the gospel, is there really a hell?, etc.
Choose not to be unlike Jesus. Be a “friend of sinners.”
A road trip to Judea! A place where one might get stoned to death! But Jesus says one must work while it is day.
Jesus explains to the disciples why He is going to see Lazarus — and the disciples don’t understand. Let’s read our text again . . .
Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) 3 So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”
4 When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, 7 and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”
8 “But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?”
9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light. 10 It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.”
11 After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”
12 His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” 13 Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.
14 So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”
16 Then Thomas (also known as Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
I love the simplicity and unembellished account here. Jesus says Lazarus has fallen asleep. The disciples respond, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better” (v. 12). They don’t follow the Lord’s euphemism. And John the gospel writer records their misunderstanding.
Jesus then tells them plainly, “Lazarus is dead.” (v. 14). Jesus’ use of a euphemism didn’t work. A euphemism is an attempt to communicate bad news in a delicate, less painful way. Now Jesus has to announce Lazarus’ death.
What Jesus says next is astounding! “. . . and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe.” (v. 15)
Jesus is “glad” He was not there to rescue Lazarus from death?! That made Him happy? Yes! He declares, “so that you may believe” (v. 15).
Belief is a central focus of the fourth gospel. Belief is far more than mere opinion. Belief is life-altering, paradigm-shifting, soul-forming stuff. And there was something much more important than sparing Lazarus from death and his sisters from making funeral arrangements.
But now it was time to go.
We have a Savior who makes decisions. Decisions that sometimes don’t make sense to us. And all that’s left for us to do is . . . believe. (to be continued)