Posts Tagged ‘Jesus Creed’
One.Life: Jesus Calls, We Follow by Scot McKnight
Paperback: 208 pages ||| Publisher: Zondervan ||| ISBN: 9780310277668
One.Life is a very timely and a very important book. Written by Dr. Scot McKnight, One.Life “invites you to discover what Jesus meant when he announced the arrival of God’s kingdom, and why his message had such a profound impact on his listeners.”
I believe this book is timely and important for several reasons; first, is the primal call it illustrates in its subtitle: “Jesus calls, We follow.” This is the foundational summons of Jesus’ gospel message; “The kingdom is here and the kingdom is coming… Follow me to become part of it.”
A second reason this book is important is the present day and age which we now live in serves us a reduced gospel. The kingdom message of Christ is a “high bar” message; it costs the recipient their One.Life if they choose to become part of the kingdom in full. Just today (illustrating the timeliness of the book), I was deeply saddened by a blog post that (in my opinion) depicted a very reduced gospel. The gospel of Jesus Christ is a transformative message that alters and radically changes individuals in the kingdom today as well as the kingdom tomorrow. This is further supported through the chapters of One.Life as McKnight takes the reader through elements of the kingdom today life depicted in example areas of love, justice, peace, wisdom, church, commitment, sex, and vocation.
“Followers of Jesus follow Jesus. Those who aren’t following Jesus aren’t’ his followers. It’s that simple. Followers follow, and those who don’t follow aren’t followers.” (p.70)
Another reason the book is timely and important, and this somewhat compliments the example of the reduced gospel I mentioned in the previous paragraph, is people’s refusal to enter the through the “narrow gate” of the kingdom Jesus describes. Jesus pronounced himself as the Gate to the kingdom; entry was through him alone. The way to “go through him” was/is through (1) repentance, or turning 180 degrees from our present way of doing things (2) denial of self (3) taking up our “cross” – sacrifice of ourselves for the sake of others. This way of the kingdom is very distilled, but the essence of the distillation can be summed up from Philippians 2:5-7 and 1 John 2:6. The reason people do not see radical transformation in many, many professed followers of Christ… many, many have never taken the first steps into the kingdom, much less have qualified as followers.
I appreciate the candor and honesty that Scot writes with in One.Life. I am reasonably sure there will be some (maybe much) push back to the message of the book. There are some very definitive statements made in some of the chapters that do not leave room for the reduced gospel. This One.Life speaks about transformation in the here, in the now, and in the eternal future… the limitations to the transformation are “self” imposed limitations. If I read McKnight correctly, he says where the Spirit takes over a life, that life becomes a transformative instrument of the Creative and Transforming God. He illustrates this with a brief commentary on Pentecost:
“God’s kingdom happens when human beings are empowered by God’s Spirit to do God’s kingdom work in the shape of a new community. That is, when Pentecost happens, the Spirit of God… Transforms human abilities, and Transcends human inabilities, so Transformed people can participate In God’s kingdom community in the here and now.” (p.100)
Personally, I am exceedingly thankful for this book. I don’t think there is anything that I read in it that has revolutionized my thinking. I read the Bible and the gospels in particular and come away with very similar convictions as written throughout One.Life. My gratitude comes in the way of being encouraged, inspired, and affirmed. Living, proclaiming, writing, and preaching the “love the Lord your God, with all your heart, all your soul, all your might, all your strength… and love your neighbor as yourself” sold-out-for-jesus-creed-one.life is not easy. It is not popular and it takes daily self-denial. It is costly as reminded by so many saints that have preceded us. So, I am thankful for this book. It comes to me at a time when I am need of encouragement and my convictions need a “shot in the arm.” This is a wonderful book and I recommend it highly. If you read it and are encouraged to truly answer the call of Jesus to “Follow Me” you might also try a few of Scot McKnight’s other books. I would also highly recommend The Jesus Creed, A Community Called Atonement, and Praying with the Church. These books have been very helpful to me and continue to serve as discipling tools in my life and the lives of many others.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Zondervan Publishing to read and post a review on my site. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Meditation & Reflection
Just a few things that the Spirit has used to grab my attention over the past few days… Still considering the following:
“The reason for our loving God is God; and measure of that love there should be none… The soul that loves God seeks for God and wants no other prize.” –Bernard of Clairvaux
Khesed (chesed; Hebrew); strong, loyal, unfailing, faithful love; goodness. The love that is described as coming from our Almighty GOD.
“Nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless…” (1 Cor. 15:58)
1 Corinthians 15:58-59 “He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. So, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.”
Most merciful and loving God, your blessed Son suffered and died for us. Grant us grace to endure the sufferings of this present time, to overcome all that seeks to overwhelm us, and to be confident of the glory that shall be revealed in us. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
“In your distress you called and I rescued you, I answered you out of a thundercloud; I tested you at the waters of Meribah.” (Psalm 81)
“Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls…” –Jesus (Matt. 11:29)
I’m comforted this morning… God’s affirming Presence is so real and very tangible. I am always joyously surprised at how intimate and personally comforting Jesus, the Word, is. I find that as I pour out my heart before God, searching my motives for selfish gain, the Lord reveals areas in need of submission to Him and affirms my “poorness,” “mourning,” and “hunger” for His kingdom (Matthew 5:1-12). I am, indeed, so very blessed. I know there is a work God desires from me; I know He is preparing me for that work. Here am I, O Lord, here am I.
Bind Yourself, O Lord, to the hearts of Your covenant people that all who have promised fidelity to the gospel may fulfill their vows. Amen.
There are some things beginning to “take shape” in my head but I don’t yet know if they are “true” or not. I believe some of these thoughts might be providing me direction, but they will need tested. My greatest challenge is this: I’m absolutely clueless as to how I would begin to proceed with the direction. I have no resources, I have no practical experience, and I have no networking contacts to help me either. I have surmised that my vision is either a God dream given to me by the Lord or I’m completely whacked out (insert funny one-liner joke here).
Be my Rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me. Since you are my Rock and my Fortress, for the sake of Your name, lead and guide me… But I am trusting You, O Lord, saying, “You are my God my future is in Your hands.” (Psalm 31: 1-15)
At this juncture I don’t know what else to do aside from lean upon the comfort that God’s Spirit provides me and continue to find solace from Scripture and prayer. I share this with my friends and readers so you might agree with me in these prayers. I continue to seek and need God’s direction. I am in need of financial provision, but I do not believe God desires that I take just any job, so I am believing for the “right” employer. I’m doing all that I know to do on this end, seeking out potential employers that are a fit for my season of life and my life experience… please pray with me to this end. I am also seeking ministry direction. As I mentioned, I believe God has given me a vision for this, but I have no clue on how to proceed or where to begin. Your prayers are greatly appreciated.
God’s Word to me today:
- Psalm 1:1-3 “Oh, the joys of those who… Delight n the Law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They bear fruit each season and their leaves never wither; they prosper in all they do.
- Matthew 7:7-8 “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking and you will find. Keep on knocking and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.
- Deuteronomy 8:15-17 “Do not forget that he led you through the great and terrifying wilderness… He did this to humble you and test you for your own good. He did this so you would never say to yourself, ‘I have achieved this with my own strength and energy.’”
“When the darkness of dismay comes, endure until it is over, because out of it will come the ability to follow Jesus truly, which brings inexpressibly wonderful joy.” –Oswald Chambers
Fasting by Scot McKnight – The Ancient Practices Series
I finally finished Scot McKnight’s (of the Jesus Creed) contribution to the “Ancient Practices Series,” Fasting. I consider it one of the best offerings I have had the opportunity to read and study yet on this, often misunderstood, spiritual discipline.
Fasting is a discipline and an act that I have had much confusion, and consequently, minimal participation in. In my approaches to fasting, there has always been some little niggle in my soul that I could not get past. Additionally, I wasn’t always sure what the bigger picture was meant to be for the act of fasting. Much of what I had been taught was that fasting super-charged the prayer life, brought a person closer to God, showed God we really wanted Him to move or speak, or do something… This did not and does not sit well with me (like we can command or conjure God to do anything), so for the most part, and for much of my Christian walk, I just didn’t fast. Several years ago my passion for spiritual formation and ancient Christianity was aroused and I began studying the spiritual disciplines. I attempted fasting, but did not have reason or purpose other than motive to follow those who had trod (successfully) the journey of faith before me. I still didn’t feel right in my soul about this, so my practice was sporadic…not much discipline involved at all.
Fast forward to late 2008.
I began praying that God would teach me about certain disciplines that I did not understand; fasting and prayer were two of the big players in my God pleas. I sensed God’s leading me into an extended fast and complied. What I learned in a personal and experiential way, Scot McKnight shares in several aspects with his work in Fasting. I suppose it would have been nice to have gotten the book and read it before my own experience, but I would have missed out on a lesson from the greatest Instructor of all.
About the book that Scot wrote though, he centers and grounds the act of fasting around the “sacred moment.” Specifically, McKnight, calls attention to the true act of fasting being tied to a “response to grief.” I really appreciated how inclusive he was in describing the breadth of spirituality and fasting in response to these sacred moments of grief. I was even more impressed with appreciation with his honest representation of what the Scriptures teach us about fasting…and doing so with no recognizable bias. I like that. Read the rest of this entry »
Wrapping it up: 40 Days Living the Jesus Creed [Days 36-40]
LtJC – Days 36-40:
The way of Agape is not easy. More often than not, it is love that is dispensed and manifest in the faces of the unloved, in the lives of the broken, and in the hearts of the hateful…when those who are the loving are persecuted, despised, maligned and martyred. The way of Agape is selfless, sacrificial, and serving…the way of Agape is the highest calling of all. The way of Agape begins with loving God with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and all our strength. The way of Agape ends with loving our neighbor as ourselves. Anything in between those two points is a distraction…
The final 5 days (leading up to Palm Sunday) were focused on living examples of Jesus Creed love (days 36-40). The first example given (mentioned in my previous entry) is support. Support is evidenced in many ways not the least of which is our finances. It can be seen in other ways as well; for instance, the sharing of material resources, time, and serving with our gifts and abilities. The bottom line is love for Jesus supports his teaching and his kingdom. Read the rest of this entry »
40 Days Living the Jesus Creed [Days 36]
LtJC – Day 36:
“Supporting Jesus turns one’s love for Jesus and for his kingdom vision and for his followers into living reality. When Jesus called his followers to love God and love others, involved in that love was the willingness to use resources for kingdom work.” Scot McKnight
Jesus Creed Thoughts for the day…
- “What we do with our money reveals what matters to us…”
- “Money matters because it reveals both what we want to hold onto and what we value enough to support”
- “Wisdom advises that giving comes first, saving second, and spending third…”
- “God’s work begins in our local community of faith and spreads across the globe.”
“Love supports the work of God”
“But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33)
and so it should be now too as we live for God’s Kingdom today…
40 Days Living the Jesus Creed [Days 34-35]
LtJC – Day 34:
“Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” (1 Corinthians 13:8-12)
Jesus Creed Thoughts for the day…
- “What we do is not eternal. What is eternal is the relationships spiritual gifts establish”
- Our gifts forge relationships
- Our relationships will remain
- The relationship with God and with others that “gifts” forge is what will remain
- “Exercise your gifts to establish those lasting relationships”
“Our spiritual gifts are given to nurture what will remain forever: Love” Read the rest of this entry »
40 Days Living the Jesus Creed [Days 31-33]
LtJC – Day 31:
“Love does not insist on its own way…” (1 Corinthians 13:5-6)
Jesus Creed Thoughts for the day…
- “Jesus Creed love is AGAPE Love…”
- “Agape Love denies self…”
My takeaway/parting thoughts: icrucified = crucify self = deny self
Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ…”
“To choose to live a life of loving others is to choose against a life of loving only ourselves.” (Scot McKnight) Read the rest of this entry »
40 Days Living the Jesus Creed [Day 30]
Give us strength with changed heart, O Lord, to love You with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and all our strength…and help us, O Lord, for Your namesake to love our neighbor as ourselves. [Amen]
LtJC – Day 30:
“Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-5)
Jesus Creed Thoughts for the day…
- “Love isn’t what you feel, it’s what you do…” Madeleine L’Engle
- “We are not happy with our lot in life or we are ticked with God for assigning our lot.” Scot McKnight
My takeaway: The thing about this (these) attributes of AGAPE love is the awareness that it cannot be lived to the full under the fuel of ourself (me). We cannot “will” this kind of attitude and behavior; at least with the expectation of sustaining it for a prolonged (forever) period (indefinite) of time. Loving enemies, remaining patient and longsuffering with lazy, immature people, being kind in the face of rude and boastful people…this is how love lives. This is the attitude of Christ…not me. Exactly. Not me. Therefore, the only way to live in sustainable God-Love (AGAPE) is for God to live in me. The only way for God to live in me is to for me to make room for Him. Jesus said; “You must be born again.” The inference of this statement is that I must first die or “deny self” in order for the “room” to be made. Indeed, the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-26) is budded, flowered, and matured from the seed of me that falls into the ground (John 12:24-26). I cannot love like God…but God in me can. If I am not loving like Him, is He living in me??? Or am I still living in me, occupying the space that God wishes to make for His room.
“You must be born again…” Jesus (John 3:3-8)
40 Days Living the Jesus Creed [Days 28-29]
“If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” [1 Cor. 13] Give us strength with changed heart, O Lord, to love You with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and all our strength…and help us, O Lord, for Your namesake to love our neighbor as ourselves. [Amen]
LtJC – Day 28:
“God has shown me that I should not call anyone profane or unclean” Acts 10:28
Jesus Creed Thoughts for the day…
- Other people are listening for God
- Resistance to boundary-breaking is normal
- God is impartial
- God dwells with all who face God Read the rest of this entry »