Six Acts of Revolutionary Living

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I keep this piece of paper taped to my computer at work and on my wall at home.  It’s small.  Only I can see it.  But I really need it.  I need to read it on the days when I have a deadline, or run from meeting to meeting.  I need it on days that feel overwhelming in a much bigger sense – like when tragedy happens, or a friend is hurting.  I need it on days that are calm and open and on days when my heart is breaking.

I came up with these statements one day after reading Stephen’s speech to the Jewish authorities in the book of Acts just before he was stoned to death.  The speech is one of the most incredible recitations of God’s redemptive plan in Scripture and ends with words that call followers of Jesus to a certain type of living that is revolutionary:

When they heard [Stephen’s speech], they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him.  But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.  ‘Look,’ he said, ‘I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’

At this, they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him…

While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’  Then he fell on his knees and cried out, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’  When he said this, he fell asleep.

(Acts 7:54-60)

Stephen is near the top of my list of people I would love to meet one day.  He was bold in speaking the message of Christ.  He stood on the truth in the face of death.  He forgave the people who dragged him on the ground through the city and threw stones at him until he died.  He stayed connected to Jesus, holding onto him right through to his end.  He was unafraid even as he spoke to authorities and knew it was likely he would be killed.  He committed his spirit – all that he was – to Jesus.

I’m not going to face what Stephen faced in my lifetime.  Most of us won’t.  But, I want to live like he did in my context – with my family, with my friends, and in my work.

What about you?   Do you need a sign on your computer or wall?  What would it say?

My Monday To-Do List

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Mondays can be hard, getting back to work and all. But they hold such possibility, days stretched out ahead. I want my Sunday to roll right into my Monday and on into my Tuesday, and so forth. I don’t want to live for Friday, waiting out the long hours of the other days, just hoping to make it.  So, although I’ve got a to-do list for this week that could take me a month to work through, I’ve added these six things at the top of the list:

I’m expecting to encounter God today. Every time I have an encounter with God, whether it is through another person, in Scripture, in nature, or within my own heart, it surprises me. I cannot make God respond to me or answer a prayer, but somehow, when I walk in the world with my eyes up instead of buried in my thoughts or my smartphone, I can’t help but see him all around me. I expect to encounter him today.

I’m reading Scripture out loud to myself. There are some things I need to remember when I start a day (and a week) because each day seems to start with new insecurities about who I am and whose I am. Today and each morning this week, I’m reading Romans 8:1-2 out loud to myself because I need to hear it:

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.

I’m asking: “What would love do in this situation?”  I will probably see and talk to about 10-15 people today. In each encounter, I will ask myself: “What would love do in this situation?”  And, whatever the answer, I’m doing it.

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I’m carrying around one of Jesus’ questions. Jesus asked many questions of the people he encountered during his time on earth. I’m writing one down today and setting it as the background picture on my phone. It’s from Matthew 9:28: “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” Every time I look at my phone, this question will be there and pull me forward.

I’m praying for other people. So many people come to mind during a typical day. Each time one comes, I am acknowledging them before God: “I lift Amy up to you, Lord.”

I’m thanking God. I am thanking God for my daughter and for the smell of the air today.  How they have blessed me!

What’s at the top of your to-do list?

Scripture to consider:

Romans 8:1-2

Matthew 9:27-31

Psalm 37:3-7

What Does Jesus Have to Do with It?

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If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you likely remember a specific moment in your life when you first understood the message of God’s grace.  You can still recall the way something in you broke open at the realization that you could stop all the effort and work you were pouring into cleaning up your life in order to be accepted by God.  The heaviness you had carried for so long suddenly lifted when you grasped the notion that God already accepts you, the non-cleaned-up you, as you are, and because of his inexplicable mercy toward you, considers not your merit or efforts, but the merit of the blameless, perfect Jesus Christ.

If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you likely also remember that after you came to understand this gift of grace and freedom in Christ, you had the sense that everything had changed.  Your life would never be the same.  You would seek God in all that you did, you would follow him wherever he led, you would be the light of the world and the salt of the earth.

But over time, perhaps even without you noticing, this fire you felt at the beginning began to cool, and now, you are not sure what you would say if asked: What does Jesus have to do with it?  Any of it.  Your life, your spouse, your children, your aging parents, your sexual desire, your drinking, your late nights in front of your computer, your friend who was diagnosed with cancer, the decision you face at work, the co-worker who never meets your eyes in the hall, the homeless guy on the corner, your Facebook posts.  What does Jesus have to do with any of it?  You are pretty sure you know how to explain what Jesus has to do with your afterlife, but beyond that, you wonder.   Maybe you knew at some point, but you’ve lost your way.  Maybe you can answer it sometimes and not others, depending on the day.

The answer to this question matters to me.  If I can only answer it when it comes to Sundays at church or what happens after I die, I think I’m missing the abundant life and freedom to which Jesus calls me and which I have tasted and know is good.  I don’t want a work life, a home life, a church life, a social life, and a spiritual life; I want an integrated life, one in which Jesus Christ is at the center and in whom all things in my life hold together. But there is no switch to flip and no button to push to make this happen easily.  I’m moving ahead anyway, though, and this blog is dedicated to figuring out how to do it.  Would you join me?  By hitting the “Follow Blog by Email” button under my picture, you can!

Hey, by the way, how would you answer?  What does Jesus have to do with it?

Scripture to consider:

Colossians 1:15-23
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Col%201:15-23&version=NIV

John 10:10
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John%2010:1-21&version=NIV