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Most of us don’t mind Jesus making some minor change in our lives but Jesus wants to turn our lives upside down. Fans don’t mind him doing a little touch up work, but Jesus wants complete renovation. Fans come to Jesus thinking tune up, but Jesus is thinking overhaul. Fans think a little makeup is fine, but Jesus is thinking makeover. Fans think a little decorating is required, but Jesus wants a complete remodel. Fans want Jesus to inspire them, but Jesus wants to interfere with their lives.
Kyle Idleman, "Not a Fan" (p. 31)
At night no one would see him (Nicodemus). At night he would avoid awkward questions from the other religious leaders. At night he could spend time with Jesus without anyone knowing. If he could speak with Jesus at night when no one was around, maybe he could begin a relationship with Jesus without having to make any real changes. He could follow Jesus without it impacting his job. In fact, his friends and family wouldn’t even have to know. He could talk to Jesus at night and quietly make a decision in his heart to believe in Jesus; that way it wouldn’t disrupt his comfortable and established life. That sounds like a lot of fans I know. Fans are happy to follow Jesus as long as that doesn’t require any significant changes or have negative implications. Here is the reality that Nicodemus is about ready to have impressed on him: There is no way to follow Jesus without him interfering with your life. Following Jesus will cost you something. Following Jesus will always cost you something.
Kyle Idleman, "Not a Fan" (p. 30)
I like the story about 3 prospectors who found a rich vein of gold in California during the gold rush days. They realized what a great discovery they had, & decided, "We’ve a really good thing going here as long as no one else finds out about it." So they each took a vow to keep it secret.
Then they headed for town to file their claims & get the equipment necessary to mine the gold. True to their vows, they didn’t say a word to anybody. They filed their claim, bought the equipment, & headed back to their mine. But when they did, a crowd of people followed them.
And the reason was because the expression on their faces had given them away. Their faces were aglow in anticipation of the wealth that soon would be theirs. People knew that they must have found something very special. So a crowd followed them out of town.
A Religion Professor named Dr. Christianson taught a required survey of Christianity course at small college. Every freshman was required to take the course regardless of his or her major. Although he tried hard to communicate the gospel, students viewed the class as nothing more than a waste of time.
One particular year Dr. Christianson had a student named Steve. Steve was the Center for the college football team and also a strong Christian who intended on going to Seminary. One day Dr. Christianson had an idea and he asked Steve to stay after class. "How many push ups can you do?" He asked. Steve said, "I do 200 every night." The professor asked Steve if he could do 300. "I have never done 300 before" Steve said, "but I think I can do it." "Good," the professor said, and he proceeded to tell his plan to Steve.
Friday came and Steve got to class early. Dr. Christianson came in with a large box of fluffy, cream filled doughnuts. The class was excited, it was Friday the last class of the day, and they could start their weekend early. Dr. Christianson went to the first girl in the row and asked, "Cynthia would you like a donut?" "Yes," she said. Dr. Christianson then turned to Steve and asked, "Steve would you do ten push-ups so that Cynthia can have a donut?" "Sure." Steve jumped down out of his desk and counted off ten push ups. Dr. Christianson laid the donut on Cynthia’s desk. Joe was next. He asked Joe the same question and Joe said "yes." Steve did 10 more pushups and the professor laid the doughnut on Joe’s desk. And so it went all the way down the first row and half way down the second until it came to Scott. He was a basketball player and friendly to female companionship. Scott replied to the professor’s question by saying, "I want the doughnut if I can do my own push ups." Dr. Christianson said, "No Steve has to do the pushups." Then Scott said, "Well I don’t want one if I can’t do my own." Dr. Christian turned around and asked, "Steve, would you do ten push ups so Scoot can have a donut he doesn’t want." Scott said, "hey! I said I didn’t want one!" Dr. Christianson said, "Look, this is my classroom, my class, my desks, and these are my donuts, Just leave it on the desk if you don’t want it." And he put the donut on Scott’s desk.
Steve had begun to slow down a little and sweat had began to form on his cheeks. Dr. Christianson started down the third row. Students were beginning to get a little angry. Dr. Christianson asked Jenny, "Jenny, do you want a donut?" Sternly, Jenny said, "NO!" Then Dr. Christianson asked, "Steve, would you do ten more push ups so Jenny can have a donut that she doesn’t want?" Steve did ten-Jenny got a doughnut.
By now a sense of uneasiness had filled the room. The students were all beginning to say "no." There were uneaten donuts on every desk. Steve was now putting forth a lot of extra effort to get the pushups done for each doughnut. A small pool of sweat was on the floor, his face was red, and you could see the sweat soaking through his shirt.
Dr. Christianson asked Robert, the most vocal unbeliever in class, to watch to make sure Steve did the full ten. Dr. Christianson started down the forth row. Students from other classes had came in and were sitting along the side of the room watching on. When the professor saw them he counted and saw that there were now 34 people in the room. He was worried about Steve, "Could he do that many push ups?" Jason, a recent transfer student, didn’t know what was going on and came in to see. The class yelled, "Go away! Don’t come in!" Steve picked up his head and said, "let him come in." Jason was asked and he said "yes." "Steve will you do ten push ups so Jason can have a donut?" Steve did ten pushups very slowly and with great struggle. Jason, confused, was handed a donut and he sat down. Dr. Christianson then finished the fourth row and began on the visitors. Steves arms were shaking uncontrolably with each push up. By this time sweat was pouring off of his face and arms. The very last two students were cheerleaders. "Linda, do you want a donut?" Linda cried and said, "no thank you." Professor turned to Steve, "Steve would you do ten push ups so Linda can have a donut she doesn’t want?" Grunting from the effort, Steve did ten very slow push ups for Linda. The last girl was Susan. "Susan would you like a donut?" Susan was full of tears and did n...
1 John 2:15-2:17
1 Kings 3:16-3:28
2 Corinthians 9:12-10:1
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ILLUSTRATION… Discipleship Journal, 11-12/92
A recent survey of Discipleship Journal readers ranked areas of greatest spiritual challenge to them:
5. (Tie) Anger/Bitterness
5. (Tie) Sexual lust
Survey respondents noted temptations were more potent when…
they had neglected their time with God (81 percent)
and when they were physically tired (57 percent).
Resisting temptation was accomplished by prayer (84 percent), avoiding compromising
situations (76 percent), Bible study (66 percent), and being accountable to someone (52 percent).
Story of Encouragement:
Several months ago when I was seated on the bus at the terminal and going home from work, a woman showed a kindness that up to now I cannot forget.
The bus was still not full. I sat on the third row, by the window, on the driver’s side. It was nearly six p.m. but the driver showed no intention of getting the bus on the road.
I saw a middle-aged woman take a seat at the opposite side. She was crying. Without directly talking to anyone, she continued to cry and tell her story.
She came to the city to visit her daughter and was going back home to the province. On her way to the bus terminal, one of her bags were snatched and stolen from her.
She weepingly narrated that the bag had half of the money she brought with her. The other half was rolled in a hankie and hidden under her blouse so she still had some money left.
The bus conductor, driver and the other passengers all listened to her tale and tried to sympathize with her. Finally, after a few minutes, she stopped and took out some cheese bread from her bag and began to eat. Then I saw an old man in tattered clothes get on the bus and take the seat directly in front of the crying woman.
A few more minutes and all the seats were already taken and the driver got behind the wheel and got ready to move. The bus conductor took out tickets and began asking us where we’re getting off.
When he got to the old man, he got suspicious and asked if the old man had any money with him. The old man said no, but he knew where he was getting off. He said he spent all his money that morning when he accidentally got off the wrong bus.
Upon hearing this, the bus conductor told the old man that he couldn’t possibly ride the bus and ordered him to get off. The old man wouldn’t budge. He was near to crying and he begged the bus conductor to let him take that ride so he could go home. The driver heard what was happening and approached the old man and he, too, told the old man to get off.
The woman was listening and observing what was transpiring. When the bus driver and conductor started to raise their voices at the old man, she interfered. She said, "Stop harrassing him. Can’t you see he’s just trying to go home?"
"He doesn’t have money!" the driver told her in a loud voice.
"Well, that’s not reason enough!" she insisted. "Where will he get off and how much is his fare?"
The bus conductor mumbled the fare.
"Fine," said the woman and she reached between her blouse and took out her only remaining money. She gave it to the bus conductor. "Here’s his fare and mine. I’ll pay for him. It’s only money. Just stop giving him a hard time. Can’t you see he’s old and weak?"
That made all heads turn to the woman. Minutes before, we were watching her cry over the money she lost and now she was paying for the old man’s fare with what’s left of her money. Everyone, including me, felt humbled by the woman’s kindness and unselfishness.
Finally, the bus left the terminal. Not contented to pay for the old man’s fare, she gave him some of her food and a 50-peso bill. She smiled the rest of the trip.
© 2000 Shery Ma Belle Arrieta firstname.lastname@example.org
Total Sacrifice Bryan Chapell tells this story that happened in his hometown: Two brothers were playing on the sandbanks by the river. One ran after another up a large mound of sand. Unfortunately, the mound was not solid, and their weight caused them to sink in quickly. When the boys did not return home for dinner, the family and neighbors organized a search. They found the younger brother unconscious, with his head and shoulders sticking out above the sand. When they cleared the sand to his waist, he awakened. The searchers asked, "Where is your brother?" The child replied, "I’m standing on his shoulders" With the sacrifice of his own life, the older brother lifted the younger to safety. The tangible and sacrificial love of the older brother literally served as a foundation for the younger brother’s life.
Story: At a comparative religions conference, the wise and the scholarly were in a spirited debate about what is unique about Christianity.
Someone suggested what set Christianity apart from other religions was the concept of incarnation, the idea that God took human form in Jesus. But someone quickly said, “Well, actually, other faiths believe that God appears in human form.”
Another suggestion was offered: what about resurrection? The belief that death is not the final word. That the tomb was found empty. Someone slowly shook his head. Other religions have accounts of people returning from the dead.
Then, as the story is told, C.S. Lewis walked into the room, tweed jacket, pipe, arm full of papers, a little early for his presentation. He sat down and took in the conversation, which had by now evolved into a fierce debate. Finally during a lull, he spoke saying, “what’s all this rumpus about?”
Everyone turned in his direction. Trying to explain themselves they said, “We’re debating what’s unique about Christianity.”
“Oh, that’s easy,” answered Lewis. “It’s grace.”
The room fell silent.
Lewis continued that Christianity uniquely claims God’s love comes free of charge, no strings attached. No other religion makes that claim.
After a moment someone commented that Lewis had a point, Buddhists, for example, follow an eight-fold path to enlightenment. It’s not a free ride.
Hindus believe in karma, that your actions continually affect the way the world will treat you; that there is nothing that comes to you not set in motion by your actions.
Someone else observed the Jewish code of the law implies God has requ...
Many people find beetles and bugs somewhat creepy, but if here’s one beetle in the world that could turn you into a beetle lover - the jewel scarab.
Jewel scarabs live in the jungles of Honduras and have the shape of your regular Christmas beetle. But their colours are so dazzling and beautiful that they can sell for up to $500 a beetle.
Beautiful flaming reds, bright golds, silvers that resemble bright, shiny chrome. Even the beetle hater finds jewel scarabs dazzling and beautiful!
But the jewel scarab’s beauty doesn’t come automatically. Every scarab has modest, even ugly beginnings.
The scarab starts life as a soft, mushy, grey-white grub growing inside a rotting tree stump.
They spend their life like this for around a year, until finally, when the rainy season arrives, the adult scarabs emerge soft bodied and pale.
Then within hours, their bodies harden and their splendid colours show.
They only live for another three months, but what a glorious existence it is.
People are just like scarabs. We may not feel terribly beautiful and attractive. In fact there may be parts of you that feel distinctly ugly – and I’m not talking just about your body, but about your spirit, your mind, your thought life, your character, your home.
But it’s the work of the Spirit of God to make us beautiful.
It may seem to take a lifetime, but as the Spirit works on us, we will emerge as beautiful, dazzling, shining creatures gloriously bearing the image of our Creator.
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Nicodemus was ready to take his relationship with Jesus to another level, but it wasn’t that easy. It never is. There would be much to lose if he went public as a follower of Jesus. What would people think if they found out that Nicodemus was an admirer of this homeless-carpenter-turned-rabbi from a nothing town called Galilee? At the very least he would lose his position in the Sanhedrin and his reputation as a religious leader. Being a secret admirer of Jesus cost him nothing, but becoming a follower came with a high price tag. It always does.
Kyle Idleman, "Not a Fan" (p. 29)