Lent Week 6 | Hope Fellowship

Monday
April 3, 2017

This week’s devotional content written by Broc Jahnke, Lead Care & Support Pastor

I sit in a local Starbucks this morning. My headphones are on, coffee by my side and the buzz of activity in the background. Writing is not coming easily this day. My mind is elsewhere, my heart is perplexed and with the new addition of daylight savings time, my body is aching for the comfort of my bed (the giveaway when I wrote this).

Today I find myself haunted by my past and the emotion that comes with those memories. I have my own issues, as we all do, and unfortunately those issues have hurt others. My “figuring life out” has caused pain for family members, coworkers, people I have had the privilege of going to church with, and people I have coached in sports. If you are one of those people who have been injured by me, words today are not enough to tell you my regret.

Read John 1:35-39 (or John 1:29-51 for the full context).

Strangely, this is one of my favorite passages in all of Scripture. First, John says, “Look! There is the Lamb of God.” Jesus as the lamb brings such comfort to me and is expressed in one of my favorite paintings - Jan van Eyck’s “Adoration of the Lamb” which shows a crowd of people and angels gathered around a majestic lamb that is pouring out his precious blood so that our sins could be washed away forever. This innocent lamb (Jesus) died so I could find forgiveness, wholeness and life.

Then, in this passage, Jesus asks a strange question, “What do you want?” The beautiful and holy lamb of God asks this simple and yet so profound question. What if he were to ask this question to me? “Broc, what do you want from me?” Would I even be able to respond?

Then, knowing of the mistakes and sin that haunted the disciples, Jesus simply said after they asked him where he was staying, “come and see.” Jesus knowing my sin, knowing your sin, lovingly and graciously invites us to come and stay with him.

The holy and precious lamb asks you today, “What is it that you need?” He knows your sin, he knows your struggle, he knows your doubts and yet in the most wonderful and gracious tone he says, “Come and stay with me and I the lamb of God will make you whole.” Come to him.

Tuesday
April 4, 2017

The world’s greatest sermon? Matthew 5-7 has got to be it. In one sermon we are taught about: anger, sexual sins, divorce, loving others, what to do with people we hate, giving, prayer, and what it means to be a true disciple.

If you are feeling bold, see if you can read through the entire sermon today.This was Jesus at his finest as a teacher. The sermon is at the same time tough, challenging, and an encouragement to a different way of living.

In this famous sermon, Jesus teaches this about those that we struggle with:

  • Being angry with someone is not kingdom like.
  • Calling someone an idiot (or disparaging them in some way) is not kingdom like.
  • Don’t seek out revenge even if it seems justified.
  • Pray for those who make your life miserable.
  • Be kind to those that don’t love you back.
  • Deal with your own issues before you try and fix others and their issues.
  • The golden rule - “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you.”
  • Saying you are a Christian is one thing, but true Christianity is measured by how we treat those who don’t treat us very well.

Ugh! I fail on this one. The Jesus way is you picturing someone that you despise, who lacks integrity, who has wounded you, or is just an overall jerk and then responding to them with keeping your mouth shut about their inadequacies, letting things go, prayer, and kindness.

Who are your enemies? Who are some people that you struggle loving? Who would you be okay with if you never saw them or talked to them again? Jesus is inviting us to the process of loving them.

Today, begin the process by praying for those with whom you have difficulty.

“God, this teaching is tough and so counter-cultural to everything inside of me. I know by my own strength I can’t even get close to living this out. Help me. Help me to love the way you love, especially the people in my life that drive me crazy. Unforgiveness and wounds run deep. May today be the day I trust your ways and start down a different path.”

Wednesday
April 5, 2017

Pros:

  • Our past, our emotions and our brains offer a complex web of activity.
  • Every human being has blind spots and weaknesses. Our loved ones can point them out for us but because of our bias and theirs, the help often doesn’t work.
  • God did not design us to be a “one man show.” We are designed to rely on other people.
  • “The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice.” - Proverbs 12:15

    “He who trusts himself is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom is kept safe.” - Proverbs 28:26

Cons:

  • Can be expensive.
  • Feels emotionally vulnerable. We already feel bad about our issues and the last thing we need is someone confirming our suspicions that we are flawed.
  • The traditional stigma is that this is something that is only for really broken people.

“Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise. “ - Proverbs 19:20

In our journey toward wholeness, I am thoroughly convinced that unless we seek guidance and direction from an outside, neutral, trained, and Christian source then we will find ourselves drifting away from the life that we desire - a life that God desires. Why should we continue to walk around in our selfish, destructive, painful, and life harming ways when there is a way to be free?

Counseling is not for the weak. It is for those that want to honor God and bring peace and life to themselves and to those around them. You are not awful and irreparably flawed. You are a human being with a complex history and God wants to walk into that history and bring forgiveness, redemption, healing and hope. You cannot bring that redemption into your story on your own - it doesn’t work.

In your journey, join with me and walk down this path toward wholeness. If you go to www.hopefellowship.net/resources you will find a list of Christian counselors that I know and believe in. They are not the answer, but the process of trusting God and his plan (that we seek help from others) is the true answer.

Counseling has and continues to make a big difference in my flawed life, I pray it has the same impact on your journey toward wholeness.

Thursday
April 6, 2017

Read Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

This parable is often called the parable of the sower but I think it should be called the parable of the soils. Let me explain. The seed is the same no matter what soil it is planted in. The thing that really seems to matter here is the soil. Different soils lead to different results.

In verse 19 it becomes clear that the soils represent the hearts of people - “what was sown in his heart.” In early Jewish literature, the heart was not meant to signify the literal beating organ that resides within our chests, but it meant the core or the fabric of who a person was. The heart pointed to a person’s thoughts, emotions, core beliefs, and core fears and insecurities.

The idea, in this parable, is that the Word of God was brought to people in the deepest part of who they truly were - the soil of their very existence.

This parable compels us to make sure that we are whole in the very center of our being. There is even a warning in this parable that if we are not whole in the very center of our being then there may be some repercussions that we would never want. Jesus is calling us to wholeness. He is calling us to be whole in the deepest parts of who we truly are.

We are warned about a few “soil ruiners” in this passage: running during trouble or persecution because of your affiliation with the kingdom, worries of life, and the deceitfulness of wealth. These things can actually ruin the soil / ruin your heart.

Being whole mentally, physically, spiritually and relationally is the path I have discovered to make my soil right for the seeds of the kingdom of God. I have so far to go to be whole but the path is before me. I feel a little like John the Baptist here, but “prepare your hearts for the coming of the Lord.”

“Lord, my heart is laid bare before you. You know the real me that I work so hard to hide from the world. Please help me to stop trying to hide from you. My heart is so full of selfishness, fear, pride and anger. Heal my heart. Let the seed that you have planted in my heart bring a harvest for the sake of those around me, for the sake of your kingdom.”

Firday
April 7, 2017

This journey and this journal have meant a great deal to me. It has reminded me that focused time with God on a daily basis is a game changer. It has also reminded me that focused time with God on a daily basis is an act of discipline. It is so easy to watch TV, engage in conversations with others, be distracted by all the tasks of the day, and do anything but find that needed time with God. However, once I allow my discipline to kick in and I truly do embrace this journey, I find myself moving in a much more satisfying God kind of rhythm in life.

Ultimately, our goal is to be these kind of people: kind, forgiving, generous, holy, compassionate, understanding, loving, peaceful, full of joy, patient, and full of mercy toward those close to us. We can’t be those kind of people by just wishing it would happen. You and I have to be healthy. We have to be whole. As my goofy friend Mike always says, “Hurting people, bring hurt to people.” So the converse I think would be true as well, “Healthy people, bring health to people.”

Ultimately you and I are on a relentless pursuit of self-care (being healthy and whole) not just for our sakes (even though it is a phenomenal benefit), but you and I are on this journey so we can be the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ to those around us. You can make a huge difference in the world by pursuing your health so that you can bring health to others.

When I spend time with God I grow so that I can love my wife. When I read and learn I grow so that I can apply the Gospel in my relationships with coworkers. When I am fully known by others in relationship, I grow so that I can be generous to strangers and maybe just maybe be a good samaritan. When I exercise I grow so that I can have the energy to be the kind of dad my children need me to be.

This journey to wholeness unfortunately is not about me nor is it about you. It’s about a world who needs some Christians to stand up and act like Christians. May God richly bless you on your journey toward wholeness so that the world will know us by our love toward others.

Saturday
April 8, 2017

Next week in the Christian tradition is called Holy Week.

There was a time in my life when I got pretty disillusioned by the institution we call church. I felt like the church at large had lost its moorings. Church seemed to be about upholding a standard and casting out those that couldn’t live up to it. It seemed to be a game of perfection that I could not keep up with. I read the pages of Scripture (especially the teachings of Jesus) and then I looked at church - they seemed to be two different animals.

On top of that it felt like the church always wanted more and more of my money, more and more of my time, and more and more of my buying into a system that seemed to be flawed. I didn’t handle it well (which seems to be a consistent life story for me) and I got bitter, angry and outspoken. Somehow through all my hurt, I managed to go back to the roots of this thing that I swore my life to and I stripped away all my perceptions and again found the reason why I gave my life to the church - Jesus.

Holy Week is about tearing everything away and remembering who Jesus was, what he did, and how he deeply loved. Holy Week is about focusing on the final days of Jesus’ life - a place where his teachings are lived out by action in the midst of the most adverse circumstances. Holy Week is about Jesus. Holy Week brought me back.

Each day this next week (Holy Week) will not be filled with a devotion or some form of commentary - simply the words, deeds and love of Jesus. What Jesus did is why you came to the church. I don’t want to add anything to that pure call and that pure love through these Holy Week Scriptures. It would be like adding a brush stroke to a Rembrandt or an extra note to Beethoven. In other words, why mess with perfection.

So, next week enjoy the pure and unadulterated story of Jesus’ love for you and for all of humanity. No matter what the church or the people of the church have done to you, I pray that Holy Week can bring you back.

It has been an honor to share Lent with you. Above all things in our journey toward wholeness, I pray that Jesus is at the heart and center of it all.

Sunday
April 9, 2017

Rest, Reflect and Worship Day!

Read Psalms 8.