Wednesday, December 30, 2009



1Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the ninth hour, the hour of prayer. 2And a man who had been lame from his mother's womb was being carried along, whom they used to set down every day at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, in order to beg alms of those who were entering the temple. 3When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he began asking to receive alms. 4But Peter, along with John, fixed his gaze on him and said, "Look at us!" 5And he began to give them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. 6But Peter said, "I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene-walk!" 7And seizing him by the right hand, he raised him up; and immediately his feet and his ankles were strengthened. 8With a leap he stood upright and began to walk; and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.

Like most of us, this man who had been lame from birth, was confused about what he really needed. He wanted something from them-money-that was not going to bring healing to his core problem. He was willing to "settle" for something less than he needed. Yet God had a different idea as He always does. The Lord used Peter and John to bring real healing to his problem.

9And all the people saw him walking and praising God; 10and they were taking note of him as being the one who used to sit at the Beautiful Gate of the temple to beg alms, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

NOTE when all the people saw the lame man walking and praising God, they recognized him as being the same man who had sat at this gate, begging for years! They were in shock over it all.

Even though the people were impressed with what had happened through Peter and John, Peter made it clear that this was not done by their own man-made power: 11While he was clinging to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them at the so-called portico of Solomon, full of amazement. 12But when Peter saw this, he replied to the people, "Men of Israel, why are you amazed at this, or why do you gaze at us, as if by our own power or piety we had made him walk?

Then Peter clearly declares that this healing occurred by faith in the NAME of Jesus, 16And on the basis of faith in His name, it is the name of Jesus which has strengthened this man whom you see and know; and the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect health in the presence of you all.

NOTE that the power for this miraculous healing came through the NAME OF JESUS. I like the song we sing: Jesus, Jesus, Jesus;There's just something about that name! Master, Savior, Jesus, Like the fragrance after the rain; Jesus, Jesus, Jesus; Let all heaven and earth proclaim; Kings and kingdoms will all pass away, But there's something about that name!

There is something about that name and we're going to see the power of the name of Jesus unfold throughout this book study. In the meantime, do everything you can to embrace the teachings and principles of Jesus. His name will become more real and dynamic to you as we walk through this book.



The disciples of Jesus waited in Jerusalem as they were directed to do. They were waiting for the Spirit to come upon them to give them power for bearing witness of Jesus throughout the world. Well, the Spirit showed up alright with an undeniable presence! He showed up with a loud, rushing wind and tongues of fire appeared to them and the disciples began speaking in other languages. It caused such a stir that a great crowd gathered to see what was going on. Then, they not only saw, but they heard the disciples speaking in the many languages of the people gathered there. You see, this was the first world-wide witnessing event, all set up by God to bear witness to the business "executives" of the world. From that event the message of Jesus spread naturally through these business leaders of the world.

When the disciples were accused of being drunk so early in the morning, Peter stood up and articulately presented the message of Jesus to the crowd. He said, 22"Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know" Peter points out the miracles Jesus performed that authenticated Him as from God and notes that his audience were eye- witnesses of these works.

23"this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. 24"But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power." He tells them, "You effectively put Jesus to death, BUT GOD RAISED HIM UP AGAIN, putting an end to the stress of death."

Peter then sums up his message with: 36"Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ-this Jesus whom you crucified." 37Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brethren, what shall we do?" Their response was amazing. They were persuaded by Peter's explanation of the day's event and asked, "What shall we do?"

Now NOTE the results of this powerful event and Peter's message: 41So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls.

NOTE the 12 evidences of their faith in Jesus: 42They were continually devoting themselves to the (1) apostles' teaching and to (2) fellowship, to the (3) breaking of bread and to (4) prayer. 43Everyone kept (5) feeling a sense of awe (feeling the presence of God among them); and (6) many wonders and signs (there was evidence of things that only God could do among them and they noticed the "God-things" among them) were taking place through the apostles. 44And (7) all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; 45and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need (they were sensitive to the needs of one another and operated as a family, taking care of each other). 46 (8) Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple (they were doing life together, day-in and day-out), and (9)breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart (they enjoyed themselves thoroughly as they learned to hang out together for dinners and parties in their homes), 47 (10) praising God (they were careful to give God the credit for what was going on and were grateful to Him) and (11) having favor with all the people (this was a remarkable effect where the masses of people were attracted to the light and the love of the fellowship they observed) (12) and the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Now, NOTE that the Lord added others to their fellowship daily. But that's not the insight here. Here's the key. How were these people added to the fellowship daily?

FIRST-There was no evangelistic program within the fellowship with training sessions and a variety of witnessing tools.

SECOND-The only thing that was done by the believers was to practice being together, learning to love one another.

THIRD-It was the Lord Who added others to the fellowship and only the Lord is able to do so. Any other "addition" is filled with hype and is, at best, man-made.

Again, we are faced with the most basic truth of all. ONLY GOD CHANGES LIVES AND BRINGS PEOPLE INTO HIS FELLOWSHIP. This is why we must continue to hang out with Jesus and His people!



For the next 28 days (7 days a week) I want to move back through the book of Acts. I suggest that you read the full chapter from whatever version each day and I will comment on a paragraph that seems to stand out to me out of that chapter. PASS IT ON TO FRIENDS AND FAMILY.

Don't be distracted away from this dynamic book of Acts. In a very real sense it's the 5th Gospel, specifically a continuation of the Gospel of Luke. I've always heard of Acts being a transitional book, but I see it differently in this season of my life. You've probably heard Acts called the "Acts of the Apostles", but I find it helpful to refer to Acts as the "Acts of Jesus." You see, although Jesus ascended into heaven, He is still quite active in our lives individually and as we gather in fellowship with one another. We grossly miss the point of the experience of walking with Jesus, if we don't see it this way.

Today in ACTS 1 check out verses 6-8: 6So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, "Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?" 7He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; 8but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth."

First NOTE their question. It's a little like "Jesus, are you going to unfold life and the world the way we've been taught and believed?" I've spent entirely too much time trying to figure out how God is going to unfold the world and bring it to some glorious conclusion. I've used the "signs of the times" to stir up people's interests and have been quite successful doing it. However, Jesus seems to relieve us of that knowledge or responsibility to know these things and points us to something far more important and strategic.

And He uses a big "BUT" to refocus our attention toward the most important things-the power of the Holy Spirit is to come upon Jesus' disciples and the disciples are to be Jesus' witnesses. FIRST, the power of the Spirit is to come upon Jesus' disciples. The way Jesus will remain active and powerful among His disciples is for the Spirit to do His work in us and among us. And, because the Spirit takes up permanent residence in those who believe, Jesus will have the opportunity to touch so many more lives than He could have. They were looking for political or organizational power. What Jesus wanted them to possess was a new kind of power-the transformational power of His Spirit for the spreading of the Gospel throughout the world. Jesus said that we would do greater works than He did and this is how it's done-with Spirit power!

SECOND, the disciples are to be witnesses of Jesus. We are not to be witnesses of a denomination or a cultural bent of Christianity. We are not told here to be witnesses of Bible doctrine or creeds or of the many teaching gurus. Literally Jesus says He wants His disciples to be "witnesses of Me" or My witnesses. The purpose for the power is to bear witness of Jesus, not Jesus plus anything, but JESUS PLUS NOTHING.

A question arises here. Why is it that we disciples are to bear witness of Jesus? It's because Jesus is all that is needed and nothing more. Jesus is the Good News in a bad news world. Jesus is the Gospel! The meaning of Jesus' name says it all. "God Saves!" Is there anything you can add to your witness to improve upon Him? No, there is nothing more to be said. It's all about Jesus!

Now NOTE the strategy for bearing witness of Jesus. We are to bear witness of Jesus to the remotest part of the earth. Also, NOTE that this witnessing has an order to it. You begin right where you live-IN JERUSALEM. Then be sure to witness of Jesus in your surrounding area. Now watch this--and in Samaria. Samaria is the place where you might not be invited, because they are not "your kind". in fact, the Jews believed the Samaritans were half-breeds and they didn't get along at all. Yet Jesus made it clear that this was a strategic part of the plan for bearing witness, even to the Samaritans. Then, Jesus' disciples are to bear witness of Him to the remotest part of the world. This begs the question, "Who or what is the object of your witness?" Is it Jesus or is it Jesus plus something else?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009



The space-time event in history of the birth of Jesus is filled with so many highlights. And everyone has his or her favorite thing to share about the Christmas story. Jesus was born on time and in the little town of Bethlehem according to the many ancient Prophets.

What fascinates me most about the birth of Jesus is how it all came about through a variety of unlikely players. The Jews very carefully kept track of their genealogies as they relate to the godly line of the Messiah. In Matthew the genealogical record is most likely that of Joseph's and the genealogical record in Luke seems to be that of his Mother Mary.

What is so amazing is that after all of the care to follow each step of the way of the Messiah's godly line, God purposefully inserts some very unlikely people. Let's call these skeletons in Jesus' closet. A skeleton in the closet usually has to do with the uglier side of our family line. Jesus had 7 skeletons in His closet that all have a potential ugly side. Let's look at each of them:

FIRST-Mary, His mother. Mary was a sinful woman just as any other woman on the planet. She was an admitted sinner by calling her son her Savior and was surprised at the choice of the angel to create the Messiah through her. This is the least ugly of the 7 skeletons and yet was a definite application of the grace of God to choose her. She clearly recognized that she personally was in need of the Savior she was to birth.

SECOND-David. Although we know David is known as a man after God's own heart, he was guilty of horrific sins. He committed adultery with Bathsheba and then set in motion the plan to have her husband, Uriah, killed in order to cover up his sin.

THIRD-Abraham. Remember, Abraham was a Gentile and God chose him to be the father of a new nation altogether-the people of Israel. Abraham's life was not a clean one, even though he was to be the father of all who believe. Two different kings brought Abraham's wife, Sarah, into their harems, because out of fear Abraham lied to each of them, saying that Sarah was his sister. What a horrible and shameful way to treat Sarah.

Even though David and Abraham were miserable sinners, Jesus the Messiah is known to be the son of David, the son of Abraham and proud of it. Then, within the genealogy of Jesus in a culture where genealogies were mostly dominated by men, there are four women, probably all Gentiles, who are included in the godly line of Messiah Jesus.

FOURTH-The first woman is Tamar, the Canaanite daughter-in-law of Judah. She resorted to deception, prostitution and even incest when she was unable to have a child. She tricked Judah into having sexual relations with her and she had twin boys, Perez and Zerah. Tamar and her son, Perez, both are included in the godly line of Jesus-both part of His sacred family tree.

FIFTH-The next woman who was also a Gentile was Rahab. She made prostitution her livelihood. Rahab risked her own neck to hide the spies of Israel when she lived in the ancient city of Jericho. Because of her faith and action on God's behalf, He agreed to spare her life and the lives of all her family during the battle of Jericho. She became the wife of Salmon and the mother of a godly man named Boaz. Boaz was David's great-grandson. By this marriage Rahab was inserted into the Messianic godly line that would produce Jesus.

SIXTH-The next Gentile woman, a Moabite, was Ruth. Although she was a former pagan and a Moabite, having no right to marry an Israelite, God's grace brought Ruth into the family of Israel, and through Boaz into the royal line. She became the grandmother of Israel's greatest king-King David.

SEVENTH-The final Gentile woman who was surprisingly in the godly line of Messiah Jesus is Bathsheba. Now get this! She entered the godly Messianic line through adultery with David. Their first son died in infancy, yet their second son was the great King Solomon, who was successor to David's throne.

As you can see the story of Christmas has some amazing surprises in it. These undeserving, Gentiles not Jewish, people were inserted into the godly list solely and completely by the grace of God.

So, in the birth of Jesus the Messiah, the skeletons in the closet turn out to be all about grace-amazing grace! This is the story of Christmas: That God's Messiah has come to deliver whoever will come to Him. This is truly what the Good News is all about. Jesus accepts and loves anyone and everyone-no matter your origin, ethnicity or religious beliefs. Jesus proves His love and acceptance by including four sinful women in His family tree. By the way, this means Jesus accepts you and loves you unconditionally, too. Therefore you can celebrate your brokenness, your ways of falling short, the many times you've missed the mark. Jesus simply overlooks all of your negative stuff and wants you to accept His light into your life that you might be whole. Now, that is a Merry Christmas that gets you ready for a very Happy New Year!

Don't forget! We're going through the Book of Acts for 28 days in a row. Don't miss this, beginning in the morning!

Monday, December 28, 2009



REMEMBER! Beginning this Friday, January 1st, we will be going through the Book of Acts for 28 straight days. So, this Friday, we will begin the New Year with the 28 chapters of Acts in 28 days. Don't miss this opportunity to come along on this adventure!

There are two primary approaches to communication of any kind-persuasion and propaganda. Persuasion is moving people to action with proper reflection, so that the audience embraces it personally. Propaganda is moving people to action without proper reflection, just to get people to think, do and say whatever the propaganda calls for.

Propaganda is the basis for much of the political communication in our world today. Facts and fairness of information are not part of the process. Propaganda tweaks the facts to fit the premise being pushed. Propaganda speaks deductively, telling people what they want them to know. Thinking is not promoted within the propaganda process.

Persuasion is inductive and people-oriented. Persuasion grapples with the needs of the audience and walks them through a process of thinking the options through to find solutions.

In the 2nd chapter of the first letter to the Thessalonians there is a powerful illustration of how persuasion works. There are three appeals when the act of persuasion is in action-ethical appeal, emotional appeal and logical appeal. Ethical appeal answers the question: "Can I trust you?" Emotional appeal answers the question: "Do you care for me?" Logical appeal answers the question: "Do you know what you are talking about?" NOTE how these three questions are answered by Paul, Silas and Timothy with respect to their approach to the Thessalonians.

CAN I TRUST YOU? You know, brothers and sisters, that our visit to you was not without results. We had previously suffered and been treated outrageously in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in the face of strong opposition. For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you. On the contrary, we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts. You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed-God is our witness. We were not looking for praise from any human being, not from you or anyone else, even though as apostles of Christ we could have asserted our prerogatives. Instead, we were like young children among you. This is the ethical appeal. Now they move on to describe their emotional appeal.

DO YOU CARE FOR ME? Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well. Surely you remember, brothers and sisters, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you. You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory. This is the emotional appeal of compassion, then the logical.

DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT? And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe.

When they received the word of God, they accepted it not as a human word (just another religious experience or teaching), but as it actually is-THE WORD OF GOD-which is at work in you who believe. Because Paul, Silas and Timothy incorporated ethical and emotional appeals, those who heard from them fully accepted and welcomed the word of God as the real, authentic, and active word of God. Now, that's pure persuasion!

Persuasion's goal is to fully invest in another's life, appealing to them to examine Jesus and embrace that relationship uniquely and personally. Persuasion only wants to stick to the message with great credibility, compassion and common sense. Propaganda is mostly interested in controlling the thinking of others. Persuasion is inductive with a desire to get you to think for yourself. Propaganda is deductive with a desire to get you to think as they do. Persuasion assists you in developing the truth. Propaganda wants to dump the truth on you-their truth. Persuasion attracts. Propaganda promotes. Propaganda is short-term. Persuasion is long-term.

To practice persuasion over propaganda is to practice the communication style of Jesus. You see, persuasion is people-centered and propaganda is content-centered. So when you are into propaganda, you are most comfortable with a content-centered approach that sells others on your set of beliefs-your content. When you are into persuasion, you are totally into people and therefore a personal relationship with Jesus makes more sense. Religion tends to be mostly about doctrinal issues and a set of beliefs to buy into. Jesus is all about relationship. This is why we use the terminology that we use-JESUS PLUS NOTHING.



OK, so Jesus says, "Where two or three gather together in His name, He will be in their midst", but is there any other indicator about seeing Jesus at work in your life? I think there are a few helpful guidelines in finding Jesus at work all around you.

FIRST-Jesus is focused on those in need, therefore look for Jesus as you are able to show concern for and offer help for the needy around you. This is where His heart is. He even says that when you feed, clothe and love those in need, you are actually ministering to Jesus, Himself.

SECOND-Jesus is focused on children, therefore look for Jesus to be hanging around them. Children do see things differently and say things innocently from the heart.

THIRD-Jesus doesn't make appointments; He will show up unexpectedly. If your day is interrupted, look for Jesus to show up in that interruption. Instead of being annoyed with your schedule being interrupted, look for Jesus there. In examining the life of Jesus you will see that He walked in and out of people's lives on His calendar.

Although there are a few times Jesus initiates encounters with people, most of the time people seek Him out personally or on behalf of loved ones. In either case, when Jesus encounters a person in need, His touch is always healing and life-giving. None of these encounters were on anyone's appointment book. Each was an interruption to their daily routine.

If you are met with irritations or troubles, look for Jesus to show up through these. I have found that some of the most irritating people I know have been used by the Lord to teach me something I really needed. Look for Jesus to show up in the midst of your troubles, too. It's not that Jesus causes us these irritations or troubles; He is always present to use them for our benefit.

You see, the reason why you can find Jesus around you throughout your day is that Jesus is relentlessly searching for children and child-like faith, those who are in need and those who are caught up with irritations and troubles. And He uses all of these players and situations to grow us up spiritually.

No matter what the touch of Jesus accomplishes in the life of a person, there is always the same result. Each and every person comes to the point of life-change-a turnaround in his life's direction. It is usually referring to turning back to God-getting back on track. I like to think about it as simply coming to your senses.

There is an interesting encounter with Jesus that Jesus actually initiates. It's when Jesus met a tax-collector by the name of Zaccheus. Zaccheus was so short that he climbed up into a tree in order to see Jesus better. When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today." So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter, "He has gone to be the guest of a sinner." But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, "Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount."

NOTE that Jesus invites Himself to lunch at Zach's house. And even before they made it to his house for lunch, there is an immediate change in the heart of Zaccheus. It's amazing to me how quickly Zaccheus wants to rectify his wrongs against the people he had over-taxed. He repented. He came to his senses about what he was doing.

I see this all of the time with people. When they encounter Jesus, there is a dramatic coming to their senses about material things, about their family responsibilities, about their finances and about their sense of mission. This initial response to an encounter with Jesus indicates a genuine heart decision to follow Jesus.

Now note what Jesus' response was to the changes in Zaccheus. Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost." (Luke 19:1-10) When you're looking for Jesus everyday, you will find Him actively seeking those who have lost their way. What Jesus wants from you is to be aware of His activity, cooperate with Him in His many encounters with people around you and to do whatever you can do to advance the conversation of Jesus in the marketplace. You see, when you are looking for Jesus every day, you begin to partner with Him. To be a partner with Jesus is to participate in bringing people to their senses. By the way, your life will begin to make more sense, too.

So, seek for Jesus and you will find Him every day. He is setting up all kinds of random appointments every day. All He wants you to do is to show up!

Sunday, December 27, 2009



One of the topics Jesus taught from the beginning and throughout most of His teaching was the Kingdom. The Kingdom is all about God's presence among us. The Kingdom is the way of living life according to and in the presence of the King-Jesus. We seem to ignore this kind of thinking much of the time. I want to suggest three observations that may be helpful here.

FIRST-Jesus came to dwell among us-TO BE WITH US: "The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel" (which means "GOD WITH US"). (Matthew 1:23) GOD WITH US! Christmas is all about God wanting to come down here and make Himself at home with us.

SECOND-Jesus called a few TO BE WITH HIM: He appointed twelve that they might BE WITH HIM. (Mark 3:14-15) Jesus set out to accomplish the work God, the Father, had asked Him to do-to be with the few the Father brought to Him and to teach them about His name. Jesus said: "and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them." (John 17:26) Imagine that! The love with which the Father loved Jesus can be in us and Jesus be in us at the same time!

THIRD-Jesus continues TO BE WITH US TODAY. Jesus shares with us the plan for continuing to dwell WITH US today: "If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever-the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home (our dwelling place) with them." (John 14)

Jesus also shares with us how He will show up and make Himself known among us. "Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I will show up in their midst." Jesus will show up as a few of us gather in His name. He still is inviting a few for Him TO BE WITH THEM today!

You see, Jesus through His Spirit is present WITH US right now and welcomes us. After seeing how the Gentiles (the non-Jews) readily believed Jesus enough to follow Him, Peter said: "I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him." (Acts 10:34-35)

Before Jesus ascended into heaven, Jesus gave His disciples one final command to make disciples of all nations and cultures. He envelopes this command with these words: "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations." Then he said: And surely I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS, to the very end of the age." (MT 28:19-20) He doesn't say I will be with you again someday. He says "I am with you always-right now on into eternity!"

Jesus came as Immanuel-TO BE WITH US and HE IS STILL HERE WITH US today, therefore: · We don't have to ask Him to be with us! He already is! · We don't have to ask Him to bless us! He already has! · We don't have to look for Him! He is invisible, but dynamically present! · We don't have to conjure Him up through powerful charismatic experiences! He is the one who has powerfully come to dwell WITH US! · We don't have to be anything other than we are! He wants to dwell with you just as you are!

A friend in Jesus recently said it this way: Jesus became like us so that we might become like Him and He came to live WITH US for a time so that we might live WITH HIM forever. And guess what? Forever starts the moment you realize that Jesus is Immanuel and you decide to follow Him.

Now to me, this makes Christmas the merriest of holidays! GOD WITH US started 2000+ years ago and He continues to be WITH US today. This is why I talk to Him throughout the day. This is why I am in a constant conversation with Jesus asking a very simple question, "What do you have for me today, Jesus?" And when I ask, He shows up. And when I don't ask, I don't see Him or even think of Him. Since I know God is WITH US, I am so much more at ease about my day. GOD WITH US!

An extremely effective way of seeing ourselves with God and God with us is to read through the Acts of Jesus. Beginning this Friday, January 1st, to begin the new year of 2010, we will be going through Acts for 28 days in a row and that includes weekends. Plan on joining me on this venture. You will be able to see Jesus more clearly in your life today and how He is working among His people. Come along this Friday and check Jesus out for yourself.

Thursday, December 24, 2009



One of the all-time bestselling series was LEFT BEHIND. It was based upon bible prophecy with the premise that someday those who are faithful followers of Jesus will be snatched away and the non-believers will be left behind. Although Jesus used the context of "in the days of Noah" where only the believer/followers were the ones left behind and not the non-believers, this teaching is very pervasive today.

Whatever teaching is true-Jesus' words or the popular prophets of our day-I am more concerned about Jesus being LEFT BEHIND. I especially think about this at the two most revered holidays within the Christian world-Christmas and Easter.

As you know we have set out to do the most difficult thing we've ever done in our lives. We are trying to follow the teachings and principles of Jesus and embrace Jesus as a lifestyle. One of the reasons for not being able to do this in the past is that we had our focus on something closely related to Jesus year after year, yet quite different with disappointing results. We were either adding something to Jesus as if He needed our additions or we were diluting the awesomeness of Jesus by packaging Him in our comfortable, spiritual boxes. Because our focus was not on simply Jesus, many times we have caught ourselves just going through the motions of the spiritual life. We had effectively left Jesus behind as we set out to live our lives.

I found out the hard way that leaving Jesus behind proved to be disastrous. Life doesn't work well without Him and I didn't know what to do to work well for Him. I kept leaving Jesus behind!

This Christmas morning I want to suggest the three most common ways of putting Jesus in the position of being left behind in your life. FIRST-We tend to leave Jesus behind in the manger! Jesus is no longer in a manger or cattle feeding trough. Both the Bible and the Qur'an teach that Jesus was born of a virgin and He is called the Word of God. In the first chapter of John it says the "Word" became flesh (not a book nor a religious organization), grew up and "dwelt" among us (made Himself at home among us), being full of grace and truth. Jesus is not still in the manger, so don't leave Him there. Learn to relate and interact with Jesus out of the manger.

This reminds me of the program for a Christmas pageant several years ago that listed out all of the actors by name. When it came to Jesus, it said, "The baby Jesus is played by a 60 watt light bulb." When you leave Jesus behind, an impersonal light bulb may be the only light you'll be able to see and share.

SECOND-We tend to leave Jesus behind on the cross! Whether you are Catholic with Jesus visibly hanging there or you relate to Jesus with the symbol of an empty cross, the story and dynamic of Jesus is so much more than a cross. He's been there-done that and now wants you to enjoy Him as the resurrected one-the one who knows you best and loves you the most!

THIRD-We tend to leave Jesus behind in the clouds! Those who are so focused on Jesus' 2nd Coming tend to be looking up into the clouds and looking ahead to the sweet bye and bye. So life becomes all about Jesus coming in the clouds to get us out of this mess. This is not what Jesus taught and lived. He wants to dwell among us as our King-our Master-right here in the nasty now and now. There is no escape clause for those who believe and follow Him. And, if Jesus does snatch those who believe and follow Him out of this world, it is only to bring us right back down here to dwell in His amazing presence on earth. In other words, there's a U-turn right back to earth. That's where the streets of gold, etc. will be-right here!

So, why do we tend to leave Jesus behind in the manger, on the cross or up in the clouds? Three simple things come to mind. It seems to be a natural, human tendency to leave Jesus behind or leave Jesus out. To do this (1) localizes Jesus to some place where we can visit or not, (2) limits Jesus from doing things that might be out of my comfort zone, and (3) leaves me alone to my own thinking, so that I can salvage some sort of fantasy of being in control.

To leave Jesus behind is to worship an impersonal God. And, if He is impersonal, then we tend to worship and lift up religiosity, traditions and man-made commandments. Hey, this Christmas do everything you can do to make it all about personalizing Jesus. Release Jesus from the manger. Remove Him from the cross. Refocus your eyes out of the clouds and be a part of what Jesus is doing right here on earth right now. Jesus is awesome, alive and actively desiring to make Himself at home in your life. Will you let Him do just that this Christmas?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009



The Christmas holiday season is filled with parties, invitations and Evites looking for a response. We have attended several parties this season and also quite a few charity events. This year we have looked forward to each of the parties and have enjoyed them all.

Jesus, being the reason for this Christmas season, the one who is ultimately the reason for any and all of the parties of the season, had an original party that was the party of parties. On this Christmas Eve I want to briefly walk through the many party invitations sent out for the anticipated birth of Jesus.

In the first chapter of Luke's Gospel two invitations were sent out in an indirect sort of way. Zacharias and Elizabeth were invited to the birth of God's Messiah. They were notified that they were going to have a child who would prepare the way for the Messiah. And when it came to naming their baby, instead of naming him after his father (according to tradition) they went with their instructions and named their son John.

Mary, the mother of Jesus, was invited in a dramatic way, naming her as the one God had chosen to bear this baby in her body. But her invitation didn't stop there. Her fiancé, Joseph, was also given a special invitation by God to this supernatural birth. The angel explained to Joseph that Mary's pregnancy was a God-thing and not a sinful or negative thing at all. And, just like John was not named after his father, so Mary's son was to be called Jesus, not Joseph. Can you imagine what went through Mary and Joseph's mind with these special invitations to the birth of God's Messiah?

A special group of shepherds in the hills of Bethlehem were sent a dramatic invitation while tending their flocks. In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased." (Luke 2:8-20)

There were two people who were looking for God's Messiah to show up during their lifetime. One was a priest by the name of Simeon and the other is a prophetess by the name of Anna. They apparently were very familiar with the specific prophecies of the prophet Daniel and believed God's Messiah was about to show up. Their enthusiasm was intense upon finding Jesus.

One more invitation is the most fascinating to me. There was a group of religious astronomers who received an invitation to this unique event-the magi. This was probably a group of serious astronomers who were researching when God's Messiah was going to appear. They were studying the stars for this information. Their invitation came in the form of a star. Note what they said when they came to the region. Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him." (Matthew 2:1-2)

Three observations come to mind here: #1-You are the sum total of the invitations you accept in life! #2-Some invitations are more important than others! #3-God has sent you an invitation-inviting-calling-everyone to follow after Him through Jesus. Think of it this way. Jesus has a special calling on your life. What will you do with this invitation? Accept it? Reject it? Or will you simply ignore it?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009



We have arrived at the final secret of following Jesus-secret #75. I began with the intent of listing out a few key principles of following Jesus that might help all who are interested to follow Him more closely. When I first responded to the challenge to make such a list, I thought there might be 30 principles, 50 at the most. Then, after spending more time, it was clear that the list would be much larger. So, on a flight to Washington DC to meet with some friends this past July, I took out a pad and the list of 75 principles flowed out. It was amazing. Since the day I started writing, I have kept the discipline of not looking ahead. Each day I faced the next secret freshly and wrote it out. I kept this particular secret as the final one.

"So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." (Matthew 6:34) SECRET #75: The follower of Jesus lives life one day at a time.

I've said it many times: YESTERDAY is a canceled check! TOMORROW is a promissory note! TODAY is the only cash you have! We waste so much of our lives regretting the past or fearing the future.

Alcoholics Anonymous and all of the other Anon groups operate upon the theme of "ONE DAY AT A TIME." This is exactly what Jesus is saying here-one day at a time. Worry has little to do with the past, but mostly has to do with the future. We worry over what might happen or what might not happen. It's not in our control, but we spend lots of energy as if our worry could make a difference in the outcome. Jesus says "Don't bother!" Each day has plenty of trouble of its own without worrying about the tomorrows.

Jesus is teaching that if you are seeking His kingdom and His righteousness, He will take care of everything else you need. He will do this ONE DAY AT A TIME. This is what He did with the children of Israel about one month into their 40 years of wandering. He rained down bread from heaven-manna-each day, except on Sabbath.

Each day the manna came down from heaven. Each day they were to gather enough for the day, never thinking of storing up some for tomorrow. Each day there was enough. Jesus is the "new manna in town." Jesus is our daily bread. The word "manna" means a surprise like "What is it?" I see Jesus giving each of us a surprise of His manna, His leadership, His sustenance each and every day for those who seek first His kingdom and His righteousness.

We practice these habits in order to gather the manna for today, which helps in minimizing our worry factor. 1. Walking with Jesus. 2. Walking with others who are walking with Jesus. 3. Waiting on Jesus to lead out with orders and opportunities. Remember, these aren't doctrines or just things to know, but habits to practice every day-all day long.

Have you noticed that when you think about tomorrow or next week, then the worries become overwhelming? I have to constantly focus my thinking and reflection upon today. It's learning how to live in the present-to live in the presence of Jesus. This is SECRET #75: The follower of Jesus lives life one day at a time.

This goes along with the message of the book of Ecclesiastes. King Solomon had tried everything to fill his life with satisfaction and all was found to be empty-luxury, liquor, lust, etc. He sums up his life's search with two summary truths: 1. Fear God and keep His commandments. 2. Enjoy your blessings every day!

Now, that's living life ONE DAY AT A TIME.

Monday, December 21, 2009



As you read the stories of the life of Jesus you will see something happen over and over. People kept bringing others to Jesus. Early in Jesus' ministry Andrew brought his brother, Peter, to Jesus. Because of this introduction, Peter became a follower and a prominent leader in the early Jesus movement.

Friends brought people to Jesus. Mark records: When He had come back to Capernaum several days afterward, it was heard that He was at home. And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room, not even near the door; and He was speaking the word to them. And they came, bringing to Him a paralytic, carried by four men. Being unable to get to Him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above Him; and when they had dug an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic was lying. (Mark 5:1-4) When Jesus saw the faith of the paralytic's friends, Jesus moved into gear. He quickly dealt with the paralytic's spiritual problem by saying, "Your sins are forgiven." This was shocking to everyone in the house. Jesus didn't do the obvious thing of healing the paralytic physically, but went straight to the man's heart, then He healed his paralysis.

Enemies brought a woman caught in adultery to Jesus. They wanted to see what Jesus would do with such a case. Jesus again shocked them by standing with the adulterous woman and challenging her accusers to go ahead and stone her, if any of them was without sin in his own life.

People who were desperate for healing of their loved ones came in mass to Jesus. When Jesus landed on the Eastern side of the Sea of Galilee in a non-Jewish community, the people were so enthused about what they had heard that they brought to Jesus all who were sick.

Children were brought to Jesus. Then some children were brought to Him so that He might lay His hands on them and pray; and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, "Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." (Matthew 19:13-14)

This brings us to SECRET #74: The follower of Jesus seeks to introduce Jesus to all who seem interested. If you are a follower of Jesus, then introducing Him in every way possible becomes a major part of your lifestyle. It's really quite easy. When you see someone doing something Jesus would do, point it out. Tell them that their act of kindness is something Jesus would do. You will be amazed how effective that can be. You might even let them know that you are doing the toughest thing you've ever tried to do in your life-to follow the teachings and principles of Jesus.

I am all about doing whatever I can do to advance the conversation of Jesus. This is really introducing people to Jesus without all of the religious baggage that tends to be hung around His neck. When someone is hurting, introduce him to Jesus; not to be converted into a certain religious faith or stance. When someone is looking for some answers, introduce him to Jesus. Rather than giving your friend all of your advice, how about encouraging him to ask Jesus for the answers he's looking for.

When Jesus shows up no one is the same again. The dead are brought back to life. The blind see. The lame walk. The deaf hear. The mute talk. Enemies and rivals become friends. Women's status is elevated. People with all kinds of leprosy are cleansed and made whole. The poor are made rich. The rich realize their poverty. The lost are found. The weak finds strength. The strong are made aware of weakness. The children are affirmed and empowered!

Now, here's my point. If Jesus brings positive transformation in every life He encounters, then doesn't it make sense for us to introduce everyone we can to this Jesus? You see, when Jesus shows up, no one is ever the same again! This is SECRET #74: The follower of Jesus seeks to introduce Jesus to all who seem interested.

Sunday, December 20, 2009



One of the repeated themes and challenges within the teachings of Jesus is to have ears to hear and eyes to see. Jesus knows our human tendency to drift away, get off-message, become distracted, and to divide up and take sides. So, He warns us to be careful that we listen and see clearly. In the midst of His warning Jesus says that those who follow Him have been given ears to hear and eyes to see.

And the disciples came and said to Him, "Why do You speak to them in parables?" Jesus answered them, "To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted. For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him. Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says, 'YOU WILL KEEP ON HEARING, BUT WILL NOT UNDERSTAND;

"But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. For truly I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it." (Matthew 13:16-17) This is SECRET #73: The follower of Jesus has ears to hear and eyes to see.

To have ears to hear and eyes to see requires that you remove your religious blinders, think and evaluate what you believe Jesus' teaching really is. Don't be afraid to go with His teachings, when they counter things you have believed all your life. It may be a little shocking at first, but when the light bulb clicks on in your head and heart, you'll know what is true.

Nowhere is this clearer than when Jesus presented His first seminar that is normally called the 'Sermon on the Mount'. As Jesus came on the scene as the new and radical Rabbi, people were asking the question: "Jesus, how do your teachings differ from what we've been taught?" If you are going to do your part in having ears to hear and eyes to see, you must focus on Jesus and His teachings. Don't just read His teachings, spend time with Jesus as you meditate on them.

There are three habits that will help you focus on hearing and seeing Jesus most clearly that come up for me: FIRST-The habit of practicing the presence of Jesus in you! When you commit yourself to be a follower of Jesus, understand that you are entering into a partnership with Jesus. You are in Him and He is in you.

SECOND-The habit of practicing the power of Jesus with you. With your partnership with Jesus you can know the confidence of being empowered by Him in whatever you do. Wherever Jesus guides, He will provide the strength to get through it.

THIRD-The habit of practicing the potential of Jesus in others. It's seeing Jesus in others. You know, Jesus never saw a prostitute. He saw a troubled woman with great potential. As you follow Jesus more closely, you will see people much differently.

Jesus without religious baggage is awesome, attractive and even irresistible! The only thing Jesus requires of you and me is to be interested-to have ears to hear and eyes to see. SECRET #73: The follower of Jesus has ears to hear and eyes to see. And with these open ears and eyes, you will experience a whole new focus on the only thing that has ever mattered-Jesus.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


As we all know, more wars have been waged because of religion than any other reason. Even more prevalent than the hellish experience of wars is the continual spirit of divisiveness. A deadly misunderstanding of Jesus and his teachings has caused most of these wars and divisions. We have been missing out on Jesus by embracing a variety of myths about Him.

A myth is passed on so frequently that you blindly accept it as THE truth and it becomes a vital doctrine in your religious beliefs. Therefore it is, at best, a legend, a sort of spiritual fairy tale that has become a sacred belief for you and your community, yet it is really a well-intentioned falsehood or misunderstanding. They have developed from one generation to another without questioning its veracity.

The result? Jesus has become distorted and misunderstood. He has been hijacked by a variety of religious groups and his teachings have been twisted. This is at the core of why fewer and fewer people are attracted to the Church. The greatest attraction ever is missing or minimized. Jesus.

There is a desperate need to re-introduce Jesus to those who have ears to hear and eyes to see.

FIRST-We desperately need to re-introduce Jesus back into our Churches and spiritual gatherings. The last two weeks I've listened to a pastor of one of the largest churches in the USA. Although the sermon was very good and delivered well, Jesus was never named. I'm sure it was not this man's intent, but without Jesus people can only identify as a member/spectator of some organization. Jesus came to launch a dynamic participatory movement. The messages of the Church tend to be less Jesus and more self-help in substance.

SECOND-We desperately need to re-introduce Jesus back into all forms of communication-newsletters, websites, blogs, small groups and conversations. Without Jesus being the emphasis, Jesus will surely fall through the cracks and will be greatly missed.

THIRD-We desperately need to re-introduce Jesus to our children. I've noticed Christian children don't know much about Jesus. They know lots about the Old Testament characters, which are highly interesting stories. But other than Jesus' birth story (with presents attached), the many stories and teachings of Jesus are just not part of the regular curriculum for children. Without Jesus, kids become turned off with the religious system of do's and don'ts and are leaving Churches as they are old enough to be on their own. If they do stay, it's usually because of some level of guilt and social obligation that has a grip on them.

FOURTH-We desperately need to re-introduce Jesus to our community-family, friends, colleagues and neighbors. Most people continue to demonstrate that they don't want to go to church-not yours, not any. The statistics tell the story very clearly. Without Jesus they are turned off and turned away by the religiosities that are presented to them.

Some of the most important things we must share about Jesus and His teachings are the following: * Re-introduce the name of Jesus. We talk too much about God, the Lord, Christ, or the man upstairs. It is the name of Jesus that embodies the power. * Re-introduce the idea of following Jesus. We talk too much about being a believer, accepting Jesus as your Savior, being a Christian or being born again. The most common tag Jesus and all of the Gospel writers used was being a follower of Jesus. * Re-introduce Jesus into our conversations. Talk about being a Christian or your Christian faith and people are put on the defensive, thinking you want to convert them. Talk about Jesus and there is an unusual attraction and irresistibility. We need to advance the conversation of Jesus whenever possible and appropriate. * Re-introduce Jesus as the Gospel, the Prince of peace, and the source of real joy.

You know what it all comes down to is this: Jesus unites; all other religious systems and teachings divide. Jesus is for everyone! Millions of Buddhist, Hindus, Jews, Muslims, agnostics and even Christians are becoming followers of Jesus today worldwide!

Don't myth out on Jesus this Christmas season. Get to know Jesus a little better and make Him known. Check out Mything Out On Jesus and His Teachings, where you can examine 32 myths that keep people from knowing and following Jesus. You can find it at or on

Remember: Jesus alone is enough. Jesus plus something is nothing. Jesus plus nothing is everything.

Thursday, December 17, 2009



In most every profession of life, even in most interactions between people, there is usually a hook or an agenda. An agenda is usually when you want something from another. Most everyone has an agenda of some kind. If you are up front about it, then there are no surprises or disappointments. There are two basic problems with agendas. First-Many times agendas are hidden and then have a "gotcha" effect on your audience. Hidden agendas are fundamentally out of bounds, if you are striving to be ethical in your dealings. Second-Many times agendas are assumed or presumed. This keeps the conversation or interaction on more of a surface level. These are agendas that have been proven to be true so many times that you just can't imagine them not being present. It just comes with the territory.

Presumed agendas occur in the religious arena frequently and therefore eat away at the heart of authenticity. For instance, if a person identifies himself as a Christian, this tends to put others on the defensive, believing they are now a target for a series of conversion tactics. Or, when you attend a religious gathering, there is a real presumption that they have as their agenda to either extract some money out of your pocket or convert you into their flavor of faith.

We face the agenda problem in our work nearly every day. You see, because people underwrite our work financially through a non-profit from month to month, we are free to be available to help anyone, any time, without ever having to deal with the financial issues at all. It is the most amazing privilege we've ever known.

We are free to live out the question: "What can we do to help?" and mean it! We approach our work with people in a five step progression: 1. We have no agenda. (We don't want anything from you.) 2. We have no answers. (We don't know anything. By the way, before following Jesus, I thought I knew everything.) 3. Jesus is the only answer we know. (Jesus knows!) 4. Jesus is the only agenda that works. (Jesus works with anyone!) 5. Jesus is the best Good News for any bad news that presents itself!

Now, this brings us to SECRET #72: The follower of Jesus seeks to live with one agenda-Jesus.

Every day you have the option of living according to the man-made principles of the world, limited by the best man can do-your own agenda. Or, you can choose to live by the principles of the Kingdom of heaven, limited by the best God can do-the Jesus agenda. When you choose the Jesus agenda, you will find yourself wanting to walk, talk, think and love as Jesus would do. Living with the Jesus agenda also creates a new heart in you to share the peace, love and joy of Jesus with those who need it. You have an increased awareness factor about your life-to make a difference.

Jesus taught that in order to live on the Jesus agenda, it's important to see things differently. He talks about you being able to actually see the Kingdom of heaven-to be aware of living on a different plane than the rest of the world. He taught this to one of the most religious men of His day and He shared with him what was required to be able to see the Jesus agenda clearly.

Let's listen in on it: Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; this man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, "Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him." Jesus answered and said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." Nicodemus said to Him, "How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born, can he?" Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I said to you, 'You must be born again.'" (John 3)

Now, don't be alarmed with the "born again" term. Jesus wasn't using "born again" as it is so frequently used today to denote whether you are in or out. What Jesus meant by this is that this religious man needed to become like a little child again-to unlearn the religious teachings that kept him from seeing and hearing and to learn all over again as a little child-to be born again spiritually. Then Nicodemus could be able to see the Kingdom-the Jesus agenda. SECRET #72: The follower of Jesus seeks to live with one agenda-Jesus.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009



The name of Jesus is easily lost, ignored or maybe just forgotten. When it comes to the holiday season of Christmas, to remember that Jesus is the reason for the season requires a constant reminder. I've noticed Jesus frequently comes up missing in messages, newsletters, church bulletins and religious conversation. It's amazing how easy it is to talk about God, Christ, the Lord or the man upstairs and leave the name of Jesus out. This brings us to SECRET #71: The follower of Jesus lifts up the name of Jesus above all names.

There is a great worship song that goes, "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, there's just something about that name." What is there about that name that is so important? In order to get this in perspective we must go way back to nearly 3500 years ago when Moses was being sent by God to face the people of Israel. Moses said to God, "Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they ask me, 'What is his name?' Then what shall I tell them?" God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I AM has sent me to you." (Exodus 3:13-14)

From the beginning God's name is very important. His name is I AM WHO I AM. This means that God exists and always has existed. It is spelled in the Hebrew language by four letters without any vowels. It is YHWH. Some ancient rabbis have described the name of God as like taking a breath. It is Yah-weh. And every breath you take is like saying His name. His name is revered so highly by the Jewish people that they wouldn't even pronounce it. Instead they would use the word for "lord" in its place. Even today, most Jews will not spell out the word, God. They usually write it with a hyphen, G-d.

When we come to the time of Jesus, there is a lot of emphasis placed upon the name of Jesus. In the first few verses of John it says, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all people. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only.

Later in John Jesus says, "And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself." What is it about this Jesus that is so attractive? Well, in Acts 4:12 it says, Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name given under heaven by which we must be saved. There is something about that name.

Remember when the Lord spoke to Ananias about what he was to tell Paul, who had just been apprehended by Jesus on the road to Damascus. He said, "Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel."

When Jesus prayed to the Father in John 17, He makes an interesting reference about the name of God, "Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me."

So what is the name of God that was given to Jesus? It is the name of Jesus or "Yeshua" in the Hebrew. NOTE what this means. It is a combination of YE, short for Yahweh, and SHUA which means saves. So, the name is YAHWEH SAVES-Yeshua. It's a combination of the name of God given to Moses and the Messianic name given to God in the flesh-Jesus-God saves!

Even more specific is that Jesus makes several claims to being the I AM. When Jesus announced to His disciples He would be leaving, Thomas said, "Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?" Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

There is something about that name. The name of Jesus sets Him apart from all others, everywhere. As a Buddhist friend of mine said, "Jesus trumps everything and everyone else!"

This is why Peter and John were able to give the healing touch to the lame man in Jerusalem. It was all in the name of Jesus. This is why when two or three are gathered together in the name of Jesus, He shows up in supernatural ways. This is why we are to pray in the name of Jesus and He responds to our heart's cries.

SECRET #71: The follower of Jesus lifts up the name of Jesus above all names. In the name of Jesus. There is something special about that name. JESUS.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009



There are three revolutionary habits we've taught over the past several years. They are simple and highly effective at the same time. The first is the habit of walking with Jesus-simply following Jesus the best you can. The second is the habit of walking with others who are walking with Jesus-doing life together with a few. The third revolutionary habit is waiting on Jesus to lead out with orders and opportunities. This is SECRET #70: The follower of Jesus waits on the Master for His orders and opportunities. Waiting on Jesus is not inactivity. In fact, waiting may be the toughest thing you'll ever learn to do. Waiting on Jesus is being active and attentive in the following ways:

FIRST-As you wait there is the action of readying yourself. Your responsibility is not to be in charge, but to be ready for the Master's orders.

SECOND-As you wait there is the action of relating to Jesus and to others-practicing the first two habits. Your responsibility is to continue these relationships within your support team-the "one another's" in your life. It's the doing of life together, not just sitting around and talking about it.

THIRD-As you wait there is the action of resting. Your responsibility is to be anxious for nothing, but to rest in your relationship with Jesus and with others. Now, keep in mind that Jesus may not have direct orders for you today. Don't be in a hurry to the point of being stressed. Following Jesus is all about rest. Jesus calls His disciples into His rest-confident, peaceful, everything-is-going-to-be-OK rest.

FOURTH-As you wait there is the action of resisting. Your responsibility is to resist all distractions, temptations, and detours that you have stirred up for yourself or that come at you. This resisting is a vital discipline for the disciple of Jesus and the Kingdom. It's resisting those things that have the potential of keeping you from following Jesus.

However, we ARE waiting for Jesus to show up in our lives. We ARE waiting for Jesus to give us answers to our heart's cry-an impression, a peace, a desire or a thought. We ARE to wait to bring restoration to those God brings to us. We ARE to wait for God to bring people into our lives for us to walk with in fellowship and support. WAITING ON JESUS TO LEAD OUT is demonstrating a ruthless trust in Him to come through on our behalf with opportunities and orders for us to follow.

An ancient Jewish prophet, Isaiah, comes to mind. He wrote some inspiring words about waiting. Isaiah says: He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, And vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary. (Isaiah 40:29-31)

Then I am drawn to what happened just before Jesus left the disciples. In the first chapter of Acts Jesus gave orders to wait in Jerusalem for next steps! Jesus spent 40 days with the disciples, just hanging out with them and He spent that time teaching them about the Kingdom. "He said to them, 'It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.'" In essence, the disciples were still hung up on the physical, political motif of the Kingdom and Jesus is expanding on His former words to them that He has already brought the Kingdom. Now, they must wait for the permanent, abiding presence of God through His Spirit to empower their Kingdom living. The same is true for us today. We are to pray for Jesus to lead out and we are to follow Him. So we are praying and waiting for Jesus to lead the way.

Think of it this way: #1-Jesus is calling you today. All He requires of you is to be interested, believe in Him and follow in His steps. #2-Jesus believes those He calls are good enough. In other words, He believes you can do it. #3-Jesus believes you can be like Him-to perpetuate His lifestyle in you. #4-Jesus empowers you by His presence as 2-3 of us gather together in His name.

It's all about the simplicity and purity of devotion to Jesus and following Him. Three habits. Walking with Jesus. Walking with others. Waiting on Jesus to lead out with orders and opportunities. SECRET #70 is: The follower of Jesus waits on the Master for His orders and opportunities.

Monday, December 14, 2009



If you are serious about following Jesus, it's important to understand as clearly as possible what Jesus did. Years ago a good friend convinced me that "What Did Jesus Do?" (WDJD?) was more important to know and study than "What Would Jesus Do?" (WWJD?)

At the heart of what Jesus did do is the primary reason Jesus came to earth. It's what Jesus' ultimate mission was. Jesus speaks to this mission in a prayer recorded in the Gospel of John. There Jesus says that He finished the work the Father sent Him to do. Even though Jesus said, "It is finished" while on the cross, the finished work of Jesus was not dying for the sins of the world according to what Jesus said. It was something that is easily overlooked in the life of Jesus and yet must be understood in order to follow Jesus more closely. This is SECRET #69: The follower of Jesus continues to do the finished work of the Master in order to transform the world one person at a time.

A few days before Jesus died on the cross, He revealed what His finished work actually was-the bottom line reason why He was sent to earth. So, what did Jesus say was the work he came to complete? When Jesus prayed to the Father, He prayed for Himself, for His disciples and for us today. This is really the Lord's Prayer. The "Our Father Who art in heaven" prayer is better viewed as the disciples' prayer, when He was teaching the disciples how to pray.

So, what was it that Jesus came to do? What is the work He came to complete? The finished work of Jesus is more than what we normally think. It's within these words of Jesus' prayer that we can find the true revolutionary nature of what Jesus came to do and what He expects from us as followers. Jesus said that He finished the work the Father sent Him to do. He said, "I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do." Notice what Jesus says is the finished work He came to do. "I have manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. Now they have come to know that everything You have given Me is from You; for the words which You gave Me I have given to them; and they received them and truly understood that I came forth from You, and they believed that You sent Me. But now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves. I have given them Your word."

Jesus came into this world to invest His life in a few men and now He sends us out to do the same. "As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth. I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them."

Jesus invested in a few-all those God brought to Him. I believe this is the finished work of Jesus. He invested in the 12 and lost one of these, so He gave Himself to eleven men. Jesus saw clearly that in order to touch the entire world, He must invest Himself completely in a few so that they really "get it". Now if this strategy was good enough for Jesus, then don't you think it's the best strategy for you and me as well?

Practically speaking, most likely God has already given you a few people in whom to invest yourself. Start with your family first. It's your family members who are given to you and primarily to you. These family members can be either your greatest accomplishments or your greatest failures. In other words, your impact upon your family members is undeniable. After family members, you know those friendships, colleagues and acquaintances who have been obviously brought into your life for your personal investment. It's SECRET #69: The follower of Jesus continues to do the finished work of the Master in order to transform the world one person at a time.

I spent most of my life preparing and training to invest my life to move the masses toward Jesus. Now I know this was the wrong strategy. Just as Jesus met and gave healing to one person at a time, so we are to do the same. Let me ask you something. What are you doing with the people God has brought to you? Are you investing your life and teachings in these few? Jesus saw this work as the most important work ever. Don't you think we can take a clue from Jesus and do the same?

Sunday, December 13, 2009



About 6 or 7 years ago Jesus apprehended my heart and mind in a fresh way. Jesus became my whole focus. I saw Him differently-in a fresh and real way. I'd always taught about Jesus, but this time I had this passion to actually get to know Him. It was clear to me that the biggest obstacle for me to get to know Jesus was me, primarily my theologically educated mind. I have frequently said that I have been educated beyond my intelligence. With this handicap I knew that in order to get to really know Jesus I had to unlearn so much-so much that had become like blinders that kept me from seeing Jesus clearly and layer upon layer of add-ons that kept me from hearing Jesus distinctly.

This new adventure of following Jesus is quite a revolutionary trip. Everything is constantly changing. My learning curve is not a curve at all; it's a perpendicular line. The unlearning and relearning process never ends and just gets better every day. The experience, strength and hope in getting to know Jesus is intense and very real. My personal story is actually becoming Jesus' story in me. This brings us to SECRET #68: The follower of Jesus shares the message of the Master by sharing his personal story.

As a professional speaker over the years I am always asked for a bio to promote who I am and what I've done for whatever the event happens to be. The changes in my bio-my personal story-are dramatic. The primary change is the insertion of Jesus into my story.

Here's how it began experientially. I enjoyed a luncheon with a few friends in the DC area. We discussed what I should say that I do, now that I am a stubborn follower of Jesus. These men shared several ideas to use as vocational handles. One was that I work with the problem of alienation in this country and around the world. I really liked that handle the best.

Right after lunch the hotel set up a town car to take me about an hour north where I was going to spend the night in the Leesburg area of Virginia with some friends. The town car driver was a delightful man by the name of Joseph. He said, "You can call me 'big Joe'." Joseph was from Cameroon, Africa, and we have since developed a family-like friendship.

That car ride changed my life by changing how I share my personal story. Joseph asked, "What do you do?" So, here we go. It's time to practice what I'd just learned at lunch. "I work with a few friends on the problem of alienation", I said. I couldn't believe how big and complicated that word "alienation" sounded as I said it. There's no way Joseph will understand.

Joseph said, "Alienation. You mean, like when people don't get along-families, communities and nations?" Much to my surprise and relief Joseph understood! I said, "Yes, that's right!"

Then Joseph asked the million dollar question, "What is it that you do to counter the problem of alienation?" Well, there it was. The question of the day-the question of my life-presented right there in my lap: "What is it that you really do, Tim?" I couldn't believe it.

So I answered carefully and painfully, "Well, we don't use politics, education, or religion. Those just don't work. What we have found to be the only real answer to alienation is" (I could hardly get it out of my mouth. I'd never said the name of Jesus in such a personal and authentic way.) and then I said it, "JESUS!" I don't know what I expected, but I was pleasantly surprised to hear Joseph's response. He said, "Oh, Jesus. You know in my country we are either Catholic or Muslim, but it really doesn't matter since we worship our ancestors. But I've always loved Jesus. He's so different from all the rest." That day I learned what it means to know Jesus personally and make Him known-really and authentically.

I used to be known as a speaker and people were attracted to me because of that. Now, I am building lots of relationships and most of these new people have never heard me speak. They are attracted to my personal story of following Jesus. You see, my story is actually Jesus' story in me. And that's the most attractive story of all! SECRET #68: The follower of Jesus shares the message of the Master by sharing his personal story.