You Don't Need To Change To Follow Jesus

I'm not good enough. 

I'm not ready. 

I don't have it all figured out.  

I don't have enough faith.  

I don't know what I believe.  

These are just a few of the things we say when we're doing our best not to live the abundant life that Jesus promised us when we follow him.  

And for most of us, it's not our fault.  At some point in our journey, we were told that in order to really follow Jesus we had to get ourselves squared away first.  

We were told that we needed an abundance of faith.  We were told that we needed to change.  We needed to follow a bunch of rules and regulations  (most of which made absolutely no sense).  

We were told that we had to have the right set of beliefs.  

What we didn't know was that all of those things we were told we were supposed to have down cold, were actually limiting our ability to follow Jesus more fully, and live more abundantly.

Far too many Christians have fallen in love with the process of Christianity at the expense of t…

A Choice to Follow Jesus or Execute Him

This coming Sunday is Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week.  It's also a day when we'll be commemorating the arrival of Jesus in Jersualem on the Sunday of the week that he was executed.

As part of my sermon preparation this week, I've been thinking a lot about what it took for Jesus to make that trip.  

He'd heard the threats by the religious leaders in Jerusalem, who were trying to figure out ways to get rid of him.  Jesus threatened their power.  His teachings held a mirror up to them and they didn't like what they saw.  So they decided to kill him.  

But he went anyway.  He knew what he was facing, not only from his opponents but also from the crowds who were gathering there for Passover.  His arrival would draw a line in the sand.   

The great Henri Nouwen once wrote: 
"Jesus went to Jerusalem to announce the good news to the people of that city.  And Jesus knew that he was going to put a choice before them:  Will you be my disciple, or will you be my execu…

The Battle Is Not Yours

"This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s... You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you..." - 2 Chronicles 20:15, 17

This past week has been a sobering and fearful season in my adopted hometown of Austin, TX.  A serial bomber struck five times (and nearly a sixth) taking the lives of two people, and seriously injuring several others. 

This morning, the terror ended when the 24-year-old bomber was confronted by law enforcement and set off an explosive device in his car, killing himself in the process.  It was a sad, terrible end to it all.   

I started thinking this morning about how helpless and angry I have felt off and on all week, and how that helpless anger guided my responses. Throughout the week, I found myself praying less for the situation and spouting off more. 

I found myself putting my trust in thin…

When God Was An Atheist

At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon.  And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”) - Mark 15:33-34

I've been kind of weepy the past couple of days.  

I got choked up after I watched the American Idol audition video and the short bio of a young woman who teaches special needs kids.  

Then there was a song about the Resurrection that just spoke to me and I listened to it over and over again, wiping tears away the whole time. 

I even got a little emotional when I was standing outside this morning, breathing in the cool morning air on this first day of Spring.  

I have been flummoxed by this bout of emotional behavior.  It's not all that encouraging when you walk around with a low-grade sense that you may fall apart at any moment.  

And then it hit me.  

This is my first Easter without my mom in the world.  

Because of this sad fact, I have been f…

God's Answer To Suffering

"If I knew of any way of escape [from pain] I would crawl through sewers to find it." - C.S. Lewis

I've been considering the purpose of suffering lately.  

It's the season for these kinds of reflections.  In these few days before Holy Week our thoughts can often turn toward the journey of Jesus into Jerusalem, and ultimately to the suffering, that journey brought him.  

But I've also been considering the purpose of suffering in general as I read the news of the day--news of war, of violence, hopeless division, sin, and death.  

My oldest boy called me on his way to school today to ask me if I'd heard the news on the latest bomb attacks here in Austin, TX.  The last attack happened just a few miles from our house, injuring two men severely.  He also shared another story he'd heard about a terrible murder-suicide in Florida.  

I realize now that he wanted me to tell him something profound.  I didn't have anything profound to say, though.  All I had was a wor…

Rescue Me: Week Five - "Repent"

It's the Fifth and final Sunday of the season of Lent, and we are journeying together after Jesus as he travels to Holy Week and the Cross.

The thing is, when we walk the Lenten journey, it's easy to feel a bit lost.  It's one of the most difficult seasons of the year--a long wintry trudge that is sandwiched between the joys of Advent and the transforming moment of Easter.

And let's face it, following in the footsteps of Jesus as he journeys to the Cross isn't exactly the most thrilling of propositions for most of us.

What we need are guides to help us along the way, to inspire us to keep going and to give us direction when we feel lost and alone.  That's the focus of the sermon series we're beginning today--a series entitled, "Rescue Me."

We'll be engaging with the lectionary Psalms that are part of our Lenten readings for each of the Sundays in Lent.  The Psalms are more than just poetry.  They are more than prayers.  The Psalms provide us with …

This Week's Daily Devos

Grace and Peace Everyone!  

I'm going to be taking a bit of a break this week from composing the Daily Devos.  

It's Spring Break here in Austin and I'm going to be taking some time off to hang out with my family, do some reading, rest and spend time with friends.  

In case you are curious as to what I do as part of my own daily routine during the season of Lent, I'll share with you some of the material I'm using for Lent (and beyond) in case you'd like to use them, too:  


1.  A Way Other Than Our Own by Walter Brueggemann - a great Lenten devotion book
2. The Gift of Hard Things by Mark Yaconelli - this is a great devotional book for any time of year
3. Bread and Wine: Readings for Lent & Easter - this is an amazing collection of devotional readings
4. The New Testament: A Translation by David Bentley Hart - I absolutely love this translation of the New Testament.  I read a chapter a day, and it generally takes me through the year.