He Knows Jesus

I just found out that my friend Nick​ passed away last night. Already I can see the impact it’s having on people. The droves posting their condolences and “I’ll miss you’s” on his facebook page. Nick and I had the opportunity to visit for several hours in my living room just a few short weeks ago. We had gathered with a small group of people to talk about the desire to know God better. A desire he definitely had. We also talked about his amazing friends (whom he was super quick to brag on). Nick knew Jesus. He didn’t understand all of the religious does and don’ts and he wasn’t interested in them. He knew Jesus. He captured this video a few months ago while at a Korn concert. In a lot of ways it reflects his story. And now it reflects his future. He knows Jesus.

Not Even A Little Bit

 
How much does God want to see you suffer? Not even a little bit.

He is for, beside, around, inside you. A lot. It’s his peace that carries you past the point of understanding the incomprehensible. His joy that flexes in the face of the frailty of our fear.

How much does God want to see you fail? Not even a little bit.

His Word is the way that lights up our every possible step. It shines into our every season. His Spirit is the still the small voice that pierces uncertainty and calms the raging of tumultuous emotion. 

How much does God want to see you quit? Not even a little bit.

His hope is our help. His Son is our sure thing. His favor our final word. His Church is our cheerleader. His mission is our motivation.

God wants every bit of who you are to love and lean into him. How much is he willing to leave to you for yourself? Not even a little bit.

Living Water

  Man, there are few things more difficult than being thirsty for a prolonged period of time. Probably many of us have never really had to face true thirst. Especially dangerous life threatening thirst. 

When I think I’m thirsty my first craving is for a Dr. Pepper or good old southern sweet tea. When I was a kid working in the hay field or watermelon patch with my dad there was nothing more satisfying than a tall cold glass of water.

Have you ever found yourself thirsty inside? That’s thirst on an entirely different level. It’s life threatening all the same. At the core of our soul. 

Maybe you didn’t articulate it that way—but the acknowledgement for something more was present like an inexplicable craving or yearning. 

Do you believe in Jesus? He told us he was that kind of satisfaction. 

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” ‭‭(John‬ ‭7:37-38‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

He made it really simple too. If you’re thirsty go to him. How? Believe.

He is living water. (Check out the fourth chapter in John’s Gospel for some more on that). 

He also said, that when we believe in him that same kind of living giving spirit would flow through us. We’re not just receptacles. We’re channels. 

Jesus himself saves, quenches, and supplies us with life inside—and desires that we might share it with all. 

That should impact is in the day to day stuff. Make us love bigger and better. Help us to speak with a kindness that is uplifting, work hard, and give selflessly. Basically, we should be refreshing to anyone and everyone we’re around. 

How’s that working out for you?

Thanks for reading! We’re always interested in hearing from you in the comments. ~ Nate

Zacapa 2015: Loving People On a Not-So-Lonely Mountain

 I hear crickets. Dogs call to each other across the ridges. A turkey gobbles off in the distance. The huge leaves of the banana tree my hammock is perched in on the side of this mountain rustle with the never ending breeze. After a scorching week in the sun the coolness of the continuous flow of wind borders on miraculous.

It has been a week of weeks. Our team has been outstanding. They work and play with an energetic tenacity on par with their vivacious faith. Grace drips from these people like the sweat they have shed for seven days.

We have been to school after school playing with kids, performing skits, praying, speaking, loving. We have visited small churches, in the remote places of the Guatemalan Mountains where our people have preached the love of Jesus. We have given away food. We have built a wall. We have built a road. We’ve been busy. It’s been good.

Busy and good are not always words I like to put together—but accomplishing the work, sharing the good news, and serving my friend Greg’s ministry are both. Because busy can be good when it is purpose driven.

As I lay in my hammock staring out across the expanse of darkness at the closest ridge I can see the humble twinkle of distant village homes. The places that house the beautiful people of Guatemala.

I can rest full of faith in the one who sent us. I can sleep soundly satisfied in our pursuit of purpose. I never enjoy leaving my family behind—and under different circumstances would probably bring them—but even in my homesickness I can rest in the peace of God.

In Matthew 5:14-16 Jesus declares his followers to be as a shining city on a far dark night. That’s our job. To take hope with us. We partner with powerful people of God in needed places. We are Gondor in the midst of Mordor. We are beacons among burdens—and bonfires among chilling darkness.

I have burned in my heart the desire to go to far places and far people because, as A.W. Tozer penned, “if my fire is not large it is yet real, and there may be those who can light their candle at its flame.”

100 Days of Awesome: Day 2 – Guilt

 
One of my favorite things that I get to do from time to time is to speak to groups of students. Today, my friend Aaron and I made a trip north to the tiny town of Marshall, AR to speak at a church. It was, in a word, awesome. 

I spoke about guilt. Why? Because it’s something we all struggle with.

But if I have learned anything at all on my journey with God; its this…

Guilt is banished by love and truth; Fear-of-God deflects evil. (Proverbs 16:6 MSG)

God’s love is amazing. We all have done things we are guilty of. We carry that guilt around. Many of us have had things done to us we had no control over, and often we carry guilt around for those as well.

Guilt is dangerous. It’s like a slow fire that burns and burns until one day there is nothing left. Guilt is disastrous. However, guilt can be banished.

If guilt is a fire that burns. Love is an action that walks into the flames. Jesus is that love. He comes into the middle of our guilt and stands in the gap.

Jesus is also our truth. He said it himself…

I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father except by me. (John 14:6 NIV)

If guilt is a fire that burns, and love runs into the flames, truth overcomes the fire itself.

The facts are in. Guilt comes via sin. Commission and omission. Sometimes given, sometimes received. The wages of sin really are death. But the truth of Jesus Christ is bigger than the fact of death.

Guilt is a fire. It burns. It can ruin you. And if you don’t fill your life with the love and truth of Christ—it will. Give it all to him. He can handle it. He’s awesome like that.

You can’t stand in the fire and be angry at the flames. 

Get rid of guilt. Get it gone. Pronto. Step in and step up to the good life God’s got for you. It’s bigger and better than your bad day.

Stay awesome.

Easy & Light

  

I was thinking about this passage today during my time alone with God.

For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:30)

A yoke is still a yoke. A yoke is used for something. It has purpose. It’s for accomplishing an
end. Jesus never said it would for real be easy. It is necessary. It’s work. Doing stuff takes stuff.
The yoke was made for doing stuff. 

We read Matt 11:30 and think that means it should be a walk in the park but then we forget that all of his disciples were martyred. Even John had multiple attempts made on his life. The kind of easy Jesus was speaking of was altogether different than the connotation of the word we drag up in our comfortable 21st century minds.

Paul talked about being a slave to Christ. It’s hard sometimes. And ministry life can be really
hard at times—but it beats the hell (literally) out of the alternative.

To live is Christ, to die is gain. (Philippians 1:21) 

Paul said that too. 

A burden is still a burden. There’s a big difference in the burden that Jesus brings and the one
sin brings. Jesus brings a burden of peace, compassion, kindness, forgiveness, love,
understanding, consideration, and justice—all wrapped in grace. Sin brings a burden of
brokenness, wretchedness, insecurity, deception, blindness, stubbornness, and fear—all
wrapped in death.

The burden Jesus brings is a burden. But it’s light.

It is easy to carry in respect to the death that is the alternative. The yoke is light but it is a
yoke. It is quite simply a great relief to your soul in regards to the death that is available should you choose to shackle yourself to a yoke of your own making.

Jesus is better. Believe it. 




The Apologetic Muslim

  

Something both wonderful and sad took place earlier this week. I was hanging out with a large crowd of students in the minutes before a midweek worship gathering at our church when I began a conversation with a wonderful young man that I will call Tahm.

We engaged in several minutes of very interesting conversation about travelling and our common interest in helping others. As the conversation continued and the service drew near this delightful guy shifted gears. It was then, with apologetic tones, he felt the need to inform me that he was a practicing Muslim—and the look he gave me that followed was one I will never forget. It said, “how will you treat me now?”

In September 2001 I was wrapping up my first collegiate tour of duty, finishing up a degree in communications, journalism, & public relations. I was surrounded on a daily basis by international students at a time in my life when, overnight, our nation turned hostile toward almost anyone of middle eastern ancestry. I remember how ugly it was. How afraid everyone was. I remember my Pakistani friend Zishon was whisked away to a safe place off campus in a storm of confusion. Zishon was a Muslim too. He didn’t identify with the hateful acts of violence perpetrated by those who claimed to share his faith.

That’s what I remembered this week when Tahm shared his faith with me. He was afraid of my response. It broke my heart. He wanted to know if he was in a safe place. 

Do I have strong opinions about Islam? Absolutely. Should I allow that to influence my treatment of Muslims? Absolutely not.

Many, many, many, times in life I completely blow it. I let Jesus down. I fail to respond as he may have in a given situation. But I think I got it right with Tahm. I invited him to lunch. I expressed my genuine desire to get to know him. And then I walked him to the sanctuary myself as the service started.

Jesus said that he came to “seek and save the lost.” (Luke 19:10) That my friends includes anyone and everyone. But how often, I wonder, do our responses to people’s lives get in the way? How we respond to the vulnerability of those who walk into our lives says more about us than any sermon we can preach, book we can write, or song we can sing.

Thanks for reading. Let us know your thoughts in the comments.