A view from the good seats (at the feet of Jesus – Matthew 18).
A view from the good seats (at the feet of Jesus – Matthew 18).
About Francis: Francis Chan is the best-selling author of books, Crazy Love, Forgotten God, Erasing Hell and the host of the BASIC.series (Who is God & We Are Church). He has also written the children’s books Halfway Herbert, The Big Red Tractor and the Little Village and Ronnie Wilson’s Gift. Francis is the founding pastor of Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, California, and is the founder of Eternity Bible College. He also sits on the board of directors of Children’s Hunger Fund and World Impact. Currently, Francis is working to start a church planting movement in the inner city of San Francisco and also working to launch a countrywide discipleship movement. Francis now lives in Northern California with his wife, Lisa, and their five children.
Session Notes and thoughts:
PERSONAL SIDE THOUGHT: Why are we so concerned with being “right” and focus our efforts so far away from what the Bible says? Why do we love to be “right” about everything? Has a quest for knowledge breaded an arrogance that we don’t even know exists inside our souls?
Francis, like always, and his message from the Lord could not have come at a better time…
My roommate in college got cancer, became weak and eventually died. My biological father also got cancer, became weak and eventually died. It’s inevitable. We all have a shelf life. Our body’s become weak and someday, we die. Death is a result of our weakness… our shortcomings… the inability to to fight off “the death blow”. Something takes over and causes the body to shut down.
That something, that weakness, is sin. Sin is shortcoming. Sin is a weakness we all have. Think about it. Weakness is a state of being utterly helpless, without power or strength. That’s death. When you die you are utterly helpless, without any power or strength.
In the book of Genesis (an account on how the world came to be), Adam and Eve choose to sin in the garden. Because of their sin, the consequences to breaking God’s laws were that they would eventually become sick (weak) with the disease of sin and die. They choose it by disobeying God’s security. Not only did they choose it, it was passed down from generation to generation to all their offspring (you and I).
Adam and Eve choose to sin, therefore… we all die (“As in Adam, all die…” 1 Corinthians 15:22).
In our weak condition (our sin) we are helpless because we have no one who will come to our rescue. Maybe in life we have the consequence of sin which is death. But wait… what if there is a cure for death. Don’t get me wrong, you still have to go through dying. However, what if there is a cure once death has been “diagnosed”? What if you have to take the medicine before the diagnosis?
The Apostle Paul says that God (the creator) gave His Son (Jesus) who we have a choose to believe in (trust – the remedy for death) to overcome the weakness which is our sin. In that belief, the antidote for the diagnosis that we know is coming, Jesus gives a gift (counselor and guide) on how to live, how overcoming the weakness that causes death and live in such a way that will prepare us to spend an eternity with Him.
Loving this God for His gift of life after death gives us power over weakness that will come. We need not fear when the diagnosis comes because we know that we are already trusting in the remedy – Jesus Christ death and resurrection on the cross.
Are you feeling weak? Let me encourage you with what Jesus offers those who will call upon His name…
“At the right time Christ died for the ungodly… rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die.” Romans 5:7
Few people might possibly be willing to die to save the lives of the weak… Jesus went beyond that, Jesus died in the place of the weak, for the ungodly, while we were in our sin and weakness and for His enemies. What kind of God does that? Name one other God that does that for His followers?
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
Where you are weak, God makes you strong through the power of Jesus remedy for those diagnosed with death. Will you take the cure in an act of faith and rely on it’ power to daily guide you in the ways you need to go?
It’s fascinating to watch people change their focus from winter hibernation into a sunshine mindset. People will collectively gather in various outside locations to congregate over sporting events, barbeque pits, and other famous summer traditions of family and friends. The winter is finally over and it’s time to breathe some fresh air.
With the clean atmosphere it’s no surprise that the many activities taking place in the sun are captivating us. Parents are out cheering on their children as they swing for the fences, moms and dads root for little kids are out kicking soccer balls as many are chasing the love of the game.
I watch many in amazement.
Children mimic their parents. Little hands and feet will eventually contribute in the same activities that mom and dad partake or influence upon their young offspring. After all, our desire is to honor our mothers and fathers… even if we don’t know we are doing it. A child’s actions are magnified by a parental comment, which results in amplification, amplification leads to a desire, and sometimes that desire is unwanted.
The other day my daughter and I were watching professional bull riding on television. We stopped on the channel because she said, “Look at the bull Daddy!” My mind went into full gear wondering if she would actually like to ride a small cow. Maybe I needed to get her some cowboy boots! I even envisioned her becoming a professional bull rider one day. I had her life planned out in the PBR (Professional Bull Riding) in a single moment.
Then I caught myself.
I remembered that what I was imagining was my dream, not her own. She simply wanted to watch the animals. I wanted to see her be a rodeo star. She could have cared less about the riders. However, with my influence it could have quickly become her dream with a couple quick comments.
As the show ended we found ourselves at the end of the day reading her Bible before bedtime. We landed on Proverbs 22:6 “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” I told my daughter that her way was coming but in order to fully live her life properly, it must be grounded in the foundations of Scripture and lived out for the Lord first.
I told her, “Everything we do must be done for the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)
God will guide my little girls path more and more as I model for her how Mommy and Daddy place God as His ways as a priority before anything else. I promised her that I would do my best to help her see that God’s ways are better than our ways and when we embrace pleasing the Lord, our earthly pursuits are that much more fruitful. (John 3:30)
Are God’s ways greater than your ways? Do the people you influence know this? Do your children know this?
My father always says, “More is caught than taught”. That means my example, what I place as a priority in my life will ultimately become my child’s. My example is dominant.
Think about it this way, what are you placing as a priority in your life? What influence have we placed on our children that dictate their mindset? Are we placing material things over the ways of the Lord?
The summer sun is awesome. It’s a great season to enjoy the radiance of God’s glory. While there’s nothing wrong with swinging the bat, kicking the ball, or playing the game, let’s not forget about walking in the ways of the one who gave us to the opportunity to enjoy these great games and this great planet we live on.
A friend of mine asked me a month back to let him propose at church. We sat down over dumbbells to plan the scenario. With little interference from his soon to be bride we were ready for action. Yesterday he popped the question using great form and perfect timing. Not only did she say “yes”, he got a standing ovation.
Standing ovations are awesome.
The standing “O” makes you feel like you’re doing the right thing. While a human audience’s applause only last a moment, God’s glorious applause for His people lasts an eternity.
As my friend asked his soon to be bride for her hand, the congregation saw an outward action of an internal change. God was on “His feet” because he is in the process of learning what Scripture teaches, living it out realistically, and giving the credit back to God.
Many times we will try and live out what we think we know is best and then go back after a downfall to learn what God’s work teaches on the subject. To make matters worse, if we did consult the scriptures, we will often give ourselves the credit! Double fault! Living out what we think is best and giving credit to ourselves for victories limits God’s favor and silence His applause.
In short, we must learn to give credit where credits due.
As John said, “He must become greater; I must become less.” (John 3:30) That means I learn the truths in the Bible, I live it them out and I give credit to the Lord. In order to truly believe that God will step to help us, His people who believe in Him through faith by the blood of Jesus on the cross, remember that our outward actions are symbolic of what is going on inside, and when we are overcome for Christ, we give God the glory He rightly deserves.
This is how you mature in a relationship with your creator.
Have you ever received a standing ovation? Would you like to get one everyday? Learn God’s Word, live it out and give credit to him for letting you have access to His glorious plan. After all, a heavenly ovation trumps human applause any day of the week!
This is not the kind of phrase you put on your business card. BUT have you ever said it? Probably not in a getting-ready-in-the-morning, getting-pumped-up-for-the-day kind of way- “Hey! I don’t trust God!” More like in that moment of self-awareness of disappointment that says, “I’m sorry God… I’ve fallen short, and I have to admit that the real reason is, as ugly as it sounds- You are my God… and I don’t trust You”…
These are the moments when you are keenly aware that you still have a lot of growing yet to do. I sure do. I’m here representing all of us that struggle with this.
For whatever reason- experience, birth order, whatever- my MO has always been to try to minimize the margin for error. Here’s the plan, now let’s think through what could go wrong and try to buffer those areas. Everything is a 2-sided coin. So when I take that same attitude into ministry circles, sometimes it’s helpful, but I think that may be the one thing, at the end of my ministry, that I look back on with the most disappointment…
Cause I’ve seen a lot… But there are things I’ve never seen. Because I didn’t go all the way to that place where only God could do it. Because I wanted to make sure it was going to be okay. So I took that prompting from the Holy Spirit, that gut feeling that God wanted something risky and uncomfortable and new and uncharted and I try to do the safe and dependable version of it… And God doesn’t call that “minimizing the margin for error”- He calls it disobedience. And the shame of it is that I will never know what might have been if… What if God’s plans were bigger?
I see myself in many of the stories of Scripture. Here’s a particularly scary one for me.
Moses has been doing very well. Better than I (or any of you) will ever do. This guy is no slacker. There’s a reason God picked Moses. Obeyed God to the “t”, got the Israelites out of Egypt, now leading them through the desert and putting up with their crap for what would be 40 years. You think your church is tough on you? Exodus 17- the people are giving Moses all kinds of grief, blaming him and complaining and making him want to die, “there’s no water” and God says, “Take your staff and strike the rock”. Moses strikes the rock and water comes out. It worked!!! Problem solved. Awesome.
Numbers 20 – again, the people are giving Moses all kinds of crap, blaming him and complaining. God says “Take your staff and SPEAK to the rock”.
Moses gets up in front of all the people, he calls them rebellious and then he strikes the rock two times, and water gushes out and people drink and are satisfied.
Moses comes back into the tent of meeting later on. “That was awesome God! Did you see me, I was like- “you’re a bunch of rebels! What do I have to do, make water come from a ROCK!” Boom! Everyone is drinking now, God, you’re the best!”
God says, “Moses, you blew it.
Because you did not trust me enough to honor my holiness in the sight of the Israelites, you will not enter the land.
There’s an argument that’s been made to say that Moses hit the rock because he was so mad at the people, not because he was being disobedient. Just a quick look at God’s response makes me believe otherwise.
He says, “You did not trust me.”
That just implies to me that somewhere in Moses’ mind it just not seem feasible that speaking to the rock was going to work, but what worked before was striking the rock, so he chose what worked before OVER what God said to do this time.
THIS IS ME! Moses was thinking the same thing I have thought so many times!
How many times in my gut have I sensed that God is wanting to do something new, something outside of my comfort zone, outside of my experience, and I start asking the “what if’s”…
Moses thinks, God, if I get up there in front of all those people and speak to the rock, and nothing happens…
So he did what worked before. And you know what? He got the water! Success!
This is what rings true with my own experience- even when I have cheapened what I believed God was leading my to do, by making it safer, I have still seen “success”. The worship set went well, the message was well received, the conference went off without a hitch.
But apparently giving the people water was the least of God’s goals for this encounter. Yes, He intended to take care of His people, but it was so much more than that- Because He tells Moses about the goal that was missed. You did not trust me by honoring my holiness. Showing them his awesomeness was what God had in mind, and Moses blew it!
How much more incredible would it have been to see Moses just speak, and water comes gushing out… God wanted to show off here, and Moses stole the show, did it the safe, dependable way, and cheapened the whole thing.
You dishonored my holiness in front of all my people! You did not trust me
Of the things I’d like to hear from God, “you dishonored my holiness in front of all my people” is really, really low on the list. “You did not trust me” is really low on the list.
I could do these things and still see “success”… but God’s goals are so much bigger than that. How many times have I stolen away God’s chance to show off in favor of doing what is safe and dependable?
Oh God, help me to trust you more. I believe… help my unbelief.
Rewiring is not only essential to getting information and power back to the people; it’s vital to us growing in our spiritual walk with the Lord. Internal rewiring is a concept that consists of going back into our memories to see where negative feelings and emotions have caused pain. If we can see where our emotions stem there can be great change in the future. While rewiring can be painful, if we are willing to open ourselves to identify internal pain, the freedom obtained will change the course of the future. Imagine being free… Imagine healing and restoration. It’s possible.
STEP 1: Identification – The first step involves identification of what negative emotion you re actually experiencing. Is it unhealthy anger, pride, resentment, loneliness, guilt? What exactly is the emotion causing the main issues in your life? If you are experiencing anger, then you need to understand the first and foremost you’re angry. When we’re aware of our emotions and willing to accept that these emotions exist, that is exactly where at a place where God can use this the most.
NOTE: Sometimes we can identify negative emotions and sometimes it takes the voice of another. Identification also means that we are honest with ourselves when these emotions are presented. This means that identification could come from our own knowledge or a result from hearing the same thing from various people in different situations and circumstances.
STEP 2: The Rewire – Once the emotion is acknowledged, we can now retrace or rewire back to where these emotions stemmed. This involves starting at the most recent event or occurrence the emotion occurred and then tracing back days, weeks, months, and even years to how long this emotion has been prevalent.
NOTE: Understand that this is the most effective when these timelines are written down in a tangible format (think journal, piece of paper, etc.). To actually be able to visually see an emotion and how it has taken root in the soul is what ultimately helps us become free.
STEP 3: Trigger – To deal with an emotion and properly run another “clean” wire means that we will look openly and honestly at what exactly triggers these emotions and terminate them immediately.
NOTE: Understand that some emotions can be tied to people, some emotions can be tied to places, and some emotions can be tied to things. When one identifies these people, places, or things that cause these emotional triggers they then can see what needs to be released from their life.
STEP 4: Terminate – The last of the rewiring is extremely challenging, involving a radical amputation of whatever has caused these specific emotions. In situations that are extreme one may need to move from house, eliminate a relationship (not spouses), or throw out/give away material items such as computers, cars, possessions, etc. We see this a lot with people who smoke cigarettes, as they are encouraged to get rid of their vehicle if they have smoked in that specific automobile. Again, one must understand that this takes either great personal dedication or enlisting the help of someone else.
It’s possible to rewire but understand it takes time, patients, an open mind, and lot of help. You were not born to live with negative emotions from scars in the past. That’s what Christ restores to the broken when they identify, rewire, trigger and terminate what is causing unrest. Allow people to hold you accountable and seek the opportunity to do the hard things to make big change.
You can do it. There is no better time than now.