This week I read, and finished, Pastor Jonathan Martin‘s debut book Prototype: What Happens When You Discover You’re More Like Jesus Than You Think?. An outstandingly thought-provoking and relatable message, I highly recommend you pick up a copy if you’re interesting in hearing more about a God who is right in the trenches with you, a God of mud, sweat, blood and tears. Still need convincing? Do you know of another Pastor unashamed to relate listening to Nickelback with injustice?
Anyhow, I thought I’d blog through some of the questions from the included discussion guide. The guide is split into weeks that cover multiple chapters, each with multiple questions. I’m going to be picking the most interesting question from each chapter and writing a little on it. Feel free to comment, or take the questions and add your own discussion on them, I’d love to hear what you have to say.
Here’s the chosen question from Chapter 1:
What if the ultimate goal of everything Jesus said and did was not just to get us to believe certain things about Him, but for us to become like Him? What would that look like in your life? How would it change the way you live?
As the US Supreme court debate the issue of same-sex marriage once again there’s a deluge of opinions surrounding the biblical response and how anything less than adherence to Old Testament law of Leviticus is to invite God’s divine wrath upon us all, brimstone and fire away all those who disagree.
At times, I often feel like I’m reading an entirely different book, as the message I see through the teachings of Jesus Christ sits at odds with much of this view-point, so I wanted to share my thoughts on marriage and the bible.
A change with my work life means I’m now away from home regularly and I’ve found one of the things that helps ground me, is taking along a small framed bible verse. I place it in plain sight on the dresser and it helps remind me to say a little prayer and get my mind right for the day ahead.
If you’re interested, the verse in question is a summary of Micah 6:8 and says simply:
Walk humbly with our God
As I struggle to find my own voice, even more I struggle with the need to find contemporary voices to bounce ideas from and gain inspiration. It seems odd to me that the strongest and most relevant progressive voices are those of men and women long dead.
The issue is not so much there aren’t strong progressives voices out there, simply that, like our dear Evangelical friends, the majority of the louder and more noticed voices are those that utterly fail to represent us.
To illustrate what I mean, let us take a peek at one of the more prominent progressive groups, The Christian Left.
Just such a beautiful track.
Point to Ponder: Living with purpose is the only way to really live.
Verse to Remember: “For David…served the purpose of God in his own generation” Acts 13:36 (NASB)
Question to Consider: When will I take the time to write down my answers to life’s five great questions? When will I put my purpose on paper?
I’m going to skip the five great questions, because honestly I’m not sold they’re so great and they ask for easy answers. The character of my life? Why Jesus of course! So instead, I’m going to continue sharing more of my life message over the coming weeks, about my turn to Christianity and how I feel I can reach out to others, who like me, are perhaps turned off by a lot of what is seen as the public face of the Church, yet find great value in the teachings of Jesus and how salvation and grace can change your life, help you discover true joy and lead to discovering you purpose in life. Which is what this journey was all about.
Please feel free to share your own 40-day Purpose Driven Life journey with me, I’d love to hear your thoughts and what impact it has had in your life.
Point to Ponder: Blessed are the balanced.
Verse to Remember: “Live life with a due sense of responsibility, not as those who do not know the meaning of life but as those who do.” Ephesians 5:15 (PH)
Question to Consider: Which of the four activities will I begin in order to stay on track and balance God’s five purposes for my life?
Passing on what I know is perhaps the hardest for me. I still struggle with a lot of the language around Christianity and know that those words were like lighting gun powder near me. Yet, when I do open myself up, I’m more often than not, rewarded with honesty and a heartfelt message in return. Hopefully I can use this to continue to challenge myself to step out of my comfort zone and share more, more often. While I don’t think I’m ready to start challenging people on accepting Jesus as their Lord and Saviour, there are other steps I can take, offers of prayer for example, that allow a boldness to my faith currently lacking, without worrying about offending the other person.
Point to Ponder: The Great Commission is my commission.
Verse to Remember: “Send us around the world with the news of your saving power and your eternal plan for all mankind.” Psalm 67:2 (LB)
Question to Consider: What steps can I take to prepare to go on a short-term missions experience in the next year?
Never say never, right? I’ve long said never about an overseas mission trip. Being honest, it is hard to be away from family and a wife I adore. We’ve never been apart for long and the time we were apart at the beginning of our marriage due to immigration issues, was pure misery for both of us.
Yet, here I am, on the verge of a new job offer that’ll take me away from the family for extended periods. Part of me can’t help but see it as a test from God, a preparation for a mission trip and being away from the family. Hopefully it is a test that myself, my wife and my son manage to deal with in our reluctance and come out the other side of it, stronger, more grateful and with a deeper and renewed love for the precious moments we share together. In doing so, hopefully we, as a family, will be better able to cope with whatever else comes our way, including a possible mission trip.
Point to Ponder: God wants to say something to the world through me.
Verse to Remember: “Be ready at all times to answer anyone who asks you to explain the hope you have in you, but do it with gentleness and respect.” 1 Peter 3:15b-16 (TEV)
Question to Consider: As I reflect on my personal story, who does God want me to share it with?
Everyone. A point made clear when someone influential in my life as being what I consider a role model in my walk in faith, questioned his own purpose with a very dark outcome. I made it a point during his recovery to let him know how vital his life has been in shaping my own. Not by being a super hero, saving people from a fire or for waving a sword and battling evil, just by being a good man, it helped make a huge impact on my life and bring me into the Church.
In the same way, each of our lives holds that same potential and purpose. You don’t necessarily have to be out pounding on doors or dive into counselling to make a dramatic impact in someone else’s life and turn them around. You can do it, simply by being you and loving God.