Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. John 4:23

Jesus said something truly revolutionary to the Samaritan woman at the well. He talked of a time coming when a new way to worship God would come into reality. What was revolutionary about this is that Jesus was not saying that worship, as it was currently done, would be refined or reshaped, but that worship of God would become something completely new. No longer the old way people knew of, but a radically different way that did not look or feel the same in any form.

Jesus seemed to be talking about the end of the entire old testament concept of worship. The end of going to a temple to sing songs of adoration to God. The end of the raising of hands to try and reach God. The end of the stamping of the feet while the musicians strum their instruments. He was talking about the end of this entire way of worship to be replaced with an entirely new way—the way God truly desires. A way that is of Spirit and truth.

So what is this new way of worship? I believe it is worshiping God through loving others. For when we love those around us, it is because we worship/are devoted to God who is Love. Love is the DNA of our God, and it is a worship-filled life we live when we live a life of love. When we love, we testify to the God we identify with and follow. When we love, we declare without words:

‘God is love—I love because this God first loved me, and I love because I worship this God of Love.’

While I understand this can sound quite radical, isn’t that exactly what we would expect based on Jesus’ words? Anything that is completely new is considered radical, and that is what makes the message of Jesus so incredible to those who desire the new way Jesus promised, yet so dangerous to those who want to hold onto the old order of things.

If our idea of worship looks similar (or even identical) to the old covenant version of worship, is it not time we challenge our own understanding of worship, and ask ourselves what this new way of worship Jesus spoke of could be? What if the new way of worship truly is done through loving others? Would this set you free, or make you feel trapped? Would this match more with the God you have come to know through Jesus, or does the old form of worship make more sense?

What if God is not interested in people bowing down to him as a form of testifying to their devotion to him, but rather he is interested in people loving those around them to testify of their devotion to him? What if loving others is the new way of worshiping God, the way he truly desires? Does that thought inspire you or offend you?

One day Barry the good Christian was riding his bike when he bumped into Jesus. It was quite a shock at first, but he was excited to hear that Jesus wanted to spend the day with him. What luck, to have God actually with him.

First thing he did when they arrived at his apartment was stand in front of Jesus for 25 minutes and sing love songs to him. This. Was. Awkward.

After worship Barry informed Jesus it was now time for them to have communion. Jesus smiled, stood up enthusiastically and asked where the wine was. This. Was. Awkward.

Barry informed Jesus very nicely that communion was actually done with grape juice, as this was the biblical way, and Barry always followed the Bible. Jesus seemed to roll his eyes, but Barry wasn’t sure. Jesus then asked what they planned on eating for fellowship. Barry produced two tiny pieces of a cracker.

When Jesus asked why they were drinking grape juice out of a shot glass and holding a tiny piece of cracker, Barry decided it was best to ignore Jesus for a moment while he enjoyed communion. For Barry, it was a great moment of connection. Meanwhile, Jesus was still asking where the wine was.

Next he sat Jesus down as he wanted to share a 3 point sermon with him about how to live a better Christian life. Jesus asked if they could have a simple conversation instead. Barry laughed, thinking Jesus was joking. After 10 minutes Jesus actually fell asleep. Barry falsely assumed he was simply in deep meditation about the anointed message, and so continued for another 30 minutes. At the end, he politely woke Jesus up.

After Barry was sure Jesus was awake and listening he became very serious as he began his altar call. He asked Jesus, very convincingly, if he wanted to accept himself into his heart. In fact, he kept on asking with increasing pressure until Jesus raised his hand, upon which he prayed for Jesus to receive his salvation. Barry was very proud of himself – just wait until his prayer group heard about this!

After Jesus got saved by Barry, he was given a form to fill out all his contact details. Once he got all his details, he strategically walked Jesus towards the door. It seemed that Jesus wanted to hang out for longer, but why? They had already done everything important to the Christian fellowship experience.

Barry gave his best Christian smile, inviting Jesus back at the same time, same place the following week. Jesus, however, didn’t understand his nice Christian smile actually meant ‘It’s time for you to leave now’ and so he remained standing there, explaining that there was still plenty of time left in the day to hang out. This. Was. Awkward.

After Jesus finally got the hint and left, Barry sat on his couch, exhausted. 90 minutes with Jesus, he was convinced, was enough for one week.

There are times in life where fall into a sense of hopelessness, and in these moments we fear, ‘am I losing my faith?’ or ‘am I not being faithful enough‘ and these thoughts only push us further down emotionally, for if God is with us–we contemplate with despair–where is he?

When we feel so lost, so abandoned, so broken, yet all we desire in life is to know God and be with him, yet in our deepest moment of pain, we ask–where is God?

To believe in God, to know him as Love, to trust in him with all you have, but still, to feel not only disconnection or silence, but an abandonment, is the hardest place to be spiritually. In our hopelessness, when we cannot help ourselves due to utter weakness, when we are at our most desperate, our hearts cry out what our lips dare not–where is God?

This situation, though seeming contradictory to the life of a believer, is itself seen in the life of Christ on this day. Upon the cross Jesus cried out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” – he said the words in his utter despair that all of us who believe are terrified to say.

If you are feeling a great hopelessness upon your life, and though you dare not say it, you feel in your heart to cry out — my God, my God, why have you forsaken me? – remember that your Savior came and experienced the same, but even greater, and he spoke what we dare not. He felt the very real abandonment of God, yet before he gave up his Spirit he went on to say, “Father, into your hands I place my spirit.”

This too, we partake in- the ‘against all hope, to hope’ and continue to place our very spirit in the hands of God, for even after we feel/experience the sense of abandonment by God, we know he cannot and will not leave us to lie in ruin. No, he will take what is broken and make it new. He will resurrect our hopes and dreams. He will create a victory out of what seems a permanent defeat.

Today, allow all the pain and sadness you feel to be with Christ upon the cross. Speak the words, ‘my God, my God, why have you forsaken me’ with your Christ. Speak the words ‘my Father, into your hands I commit my spirit’ with your Christ. And as you do, remember that beyond what you feel today, God has a plan to make all things new in your life.

We call this Friday ‘good’ because God’s plan did not end at the cross on this day; for Christ who was broken upon the cross, just as for your life and dreams, there is still a great resurrection to come.

Good Friday represents the ashes of life, but a crown of beauty is still to come. Good Friday represents our mourning, but the oil of joy is still to be poured upon us. Good Friday represents our spirit of despair, but the garment of praise is still to be wrapped around us.

Good Friday is ‘good’ because it is the day we hang all our despair and saddness upon the cross, and unite with Christ in this loss, knowing that we will also remain united with him in his Resurrection, when all things are made new.

Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?” John 9:40

Some people wonder what Jesus meant when he asked: “Do you have eyes, but fail to see?” The Pharisees, of course, thought they had better eye sight than anyone; so good they could see every sin in the world; they were experts in seeing the sinner in the crowd. Perhaps that was the very thing that caused them to be blind?

When Jesus looked upon the people of his day, he didn’t see ‘sinners’, rather, he saw the lost sheep that God so loved he sent Jesus into the world to rescue. Jesus looked upon people with a different perspective than the Pharisees:

“When Jesus saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Matthew 9:36

When Jesus was invited to dinner in the house of a prominent Pharisee named Simon, their dinner was interrupted by a woman, so touched by her interactions with Jesus that she fell to his feet and covered them with tears, and wiped them with her hair. What did Simon see? He didn’t see what God wanted him to see; he was blind to the very work of God. Simon’s perspective was this:

When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.” Luke 7:39

Simon saw the sinner; but he didn’t see the woman. He put her in an inhuman category in his mind, that allowed him to cast his judgment upon her without consulting his heart, or the heart of God. But Jesus was different, he didn’t see the sinner; he saw the woman. He saw the true person, not the pain and corruption that life had pulled her into. He saw the child. He saw the one he came to rescue. The woman, now set free, was overflowing with thankfulness. Heaven was erupting with joy and dancing. God was rejoicing – but Simon missed the whole thing. Jesus asked him: “Do you see this woman?”

Do you see this woman? Do you see this man? Do you see them as lost sheep? Do you see them as the very reason Jesus came? Do you see God’s plan for restoration? Do you see the pain they are in? Do you see their need for love? Or do you see the sinner? Jesus words ring in my heart all the time: “Do you see this woman?”

It’s easy to see the sinner, but do you see the person? Do you see the lost sheep that belongs to God; that God came to find? Do you see the lost sheep, helpless and harassed, like a sheep without a Shepherd?

Simon, the Pharisee who was the host of the party, was blind to the miracle; he had eyes, but he couldn’t see. He only saw the sinner, he saw her sins, he saw her past, but he didn’t see what truly counted; he couldn’t see the unfailing love Jesus had for this woman. He couldn’t see the acceptance Jesus offered her. He couldn’t see how the love of God had led this woman into freedom. He missed it all, because what we saw was ‘a sinner’. What he was blind to was the transaction that had happened in this woman’s heart through the love and kindness of Jesus.

The multitudes were amazed at how Jesus multiplied a few loaves of bread into a feast for 5,000 people by the miracle hand of God, but the woman who cried at the feet of Jesus, washing his feet with tears of joy, was far more amazed at how Jesus transformed her heart through his love and grace. A transformed heart and life, that is received freely through the grace of Jesus, is the greatest work of God there is.

When we see people the way Jesus sees them, then we truly do see. Love is the eye sight of God. Love is his opinion of everyone. Love is his way. Rescue, salvation, reconciliation and new life is God’s agenda. For Jesus came, not to condemn the world, but to save the world through himself. We serve a king who saves. A king who loves.

Let us also see those who have not yet met him as the lost sheep whom our great Shepherd is seeking to save, and by the unfailing power of his love, will do just that.

My Lament And My Grace

March 7, 2013 — 15 Comments

Alone on a hill
Just his voice and mine
I poured out my sadness
To my great Divine

I held out my dry hands
I gave God my wet eyes
I looked up to heaven
and let out my cries

“The stars, Lord, they shine
They’re so easy to find
The whole world knows their place
But where, Lord, am I?

The kings, Lord, they laugh
The world follows their path
They speak, fools rejoice
But where, Lord, is my voice?

Lord, what is it worth
to love in this earth?
If no one can see
Your love burning in me?”

And there, on that hill
The Lord came to my side
He spoke in my heart
His words dried my eyes

“My child, don’t love to be seen
Love, so you yourself can see
For whenever you love
You’re looking at me”

And from that moment on
I’ve understood grace
for whenever I love
I now see God’s face

Poem By Mick Mooney

Screen Shot 2013-04-02 at 2.39.47 PMA little while back I got the chance to interview author & popular blogger Jeff Goins (goinswriter.com) and we discussed a heap of interesting things. We talked a lot about our faith, and how we go about sharing our thoughts and creative ideas through writing.

Jeff is a very cool guy, and there are a few things he shared in this interview that I’ve been pondering on for weeks since. If you are interested in writing or blogging, then Jeff is a great guy to connect with, as he offers a lot of advice and resources to writers. He’s got a few books out there on writing and also wrote a book last year called ‘Wrecked’ that reached the top 20 on amazon’s best sellers list in the week of release.

Also, he is a fun guy. I think you’ll enjoy hearing what he has to say in the interview. You can listen below. You can also connect with Jeff on his blog, on twitter, and on facebook. You can listen to the interview below.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” “How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!” John 3:3-4

You will look for me, but you will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come.” The Jews said to one another, “Where does this man intend to go that we cannot find him? Will he go where our people live scattered among the Greeks, and teach the Greeks? John 7:34-35

When we read through the gospel accounts it’s pretty clear that the major error both the Pharisees and the Disciples made was attempting to interpret what Jesus said literally. Jesus rarely spoke literally. He was almost always talking about a greater truth. An inner reality of the Spirit, and a heavenly reality of God’s love; however, he wrapped this message of these divine truths up in common words, stories and parables.

In today’s world, when people point to the Bible to prove their theological ideas and say, “Look! Jesus said it, right there!” they are quite possibly making the very mistake both the Pharisees and the Disciples made.

When they went across the lake, the disciples forgot to take bread. “Be careful,” Jesus said to them. “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” They discussed this among themselves and said, “It is because we didn’t bring any bread.” Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked, “You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread? Do you still not understand? Matthew 16:5-9

Just because Jesus talked about yeast, that in a literal sense is used to make bread, doesn’t mean he was talking literally about bread. Just because Jesus talked about being put outside with gnashing of teeth doesn’t mean he was talking about some kind of eternal torture. Just because Jesus talked about eating his flesh doesn’t mean he is talking about cannibalism.

We have to look into his words for the deeper, more divine message he shared if we want to actually understand what he is really talking about. That requires both humility and time, because it will only be revealed to us in God’s timing, not ours. Sometimes, that means walking for months, years or even decades without a full arsenal of definite answers. This is also not a bad thing. We can embrace the part of our faith that is the great unknown to us. If we attempt to fill the holes in our understanding that God has not yet revealed to us (something the religious mind is determined to do) with our own ideas it only pushes us into longer-term problems. Like using a band-aid to cover a leak in a water pipe, those self-made patches will eventually break, sooner or later anyway.

When we feel it is our responsibility to have an answer to every theological doctrine we will only speed into a train wreck of bad theology. But we don’t have to have all the answers, because we are not called to be God, we are called to follow him. It is a journey. It is a forward movement with the Lord into all truth. That ‘into’ takes time. That’s OK. It’s called walking by faith.

Instead of trying to prove our theology is correct, or trying to expose someone else’s theology is wrong, it is in my opinion better to simply let your own heart have permission to ‘not’ know everything, and allow the Spirit in you the time, space and permission to walk you into all truth. It will take time, it will mean accepting you don’t have all the answers yet, but it’s worth it.

Jesus was a reckless lover of people, and he refused to bow down to the religious expectation of loving from a distance. He was up close, real, and embracing. He touched the lepers, he drew close to the prostitutes, he invited the scoundrels of society to dinner. He was hated by the religious not for this theology, but for his love, for his love was not made up by words he spoke, but by the life he lived. Be like Jesus. Love so much it makes religious people uncomfortable.

Jesus the Lover of All People

Today’s short story is based on the Scripture: “Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, ‘Dear woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.” - John 19:25-27 and also: “When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, ‘He is out of his mind.’” - Mark 3:21

Yesterday the Romans had crucified his brother. It was inevitable, and he had warned his brother that more than once. But did he listen to him? Did Jesus ever listen to him? No. He had his own ideas, even if they went against everything the experts in the law taught. James was one of the most praised young pharisees in the city. He was always the most spiritual one in the family. His older brother, by contrast was a common tradesman. After the death of their father it was Jesus who took the role of bread-winner, and to his credit, it was Jesus who had paid for James’ studies. But nonetheless, he was still just a carpenter.

However, all that changed three years ago, like a whirlwind, and nothing had been the same since.

Now this. The end of a long process of insanity. A dead brother, a mother who had half lost her mind in grief, and six siblings left at home trying to make sense of why their mother was not with them. James was now the head of the family, and it was his responsibility to bring order back into their household. But how to do that when his mother wouldn’t return home. She still clung to her false hopes her illegitimate son was somehow something greater, something divine. Yet now, she had to deal with the truth, that all he said was a lie, and that lie led him to his grave.

He knelt next to the bed his mother was lying in, and tried to talk sense into her.

“Mother, I understand you pain. He was your first-born son, but your others sons . . . we are still here. Come back home mother, so we can look after you.”

Mary wept. She rolled over in her bed and continued to sob. She had not stopped weeping since she watched her son crucified. James turned to the wife of Zebedee who was standing by the door.

“Why is my mother staying here with your family? She should be with her real family!”

The wife of Zebeddee was speechless. James maintained his gaze towards her, not satisfied to leave without an answer. Finally she replied, “It was the dying request of our Lord, we are only providing for her as he asked.”

“Your Lord?” James interjected with disgust. “How dare you blaspheme God!” James walked across to the wife of Zebedee, speaking in a whisper so his mother could not hear, he said, “My brother was not a devil as my many of our leaders have charged him to be, but he was out of his mind, and his delusions cost him his life.”

James once again turned back to speak to his mother. He pleaded for her to return home. Mary remained curled up in bed, facing the wall. After some time James conceded that she was too weak with anguish to reason correctly. He walked to the door, and prepared himself to return to his brothers who were waiting anxiously at home. Before he left he leaned over and asked to the wife of Zebedee: “Do you now want my mother to also die from a delusion and a broken heart? She should be with me, her son, her real son . . . Or do you really believe that your son John is now more or a son to her that I am?

To have a dream is the easy part. To believe enough in your dream that you work on achieving it, day in, day out, year in, year out — that it is the challenging part. But if the dream is in your heart, then it is there for a purpose. The challenge is to believe in it enough that it moves you to learn, to practice, and to become a professional in whatever craft you need. Take courage. Believe. Keep practicing.

Dreams