I’ve been studying a lot about Jesus these past few months. I was thinking about which person in the Bible I should study next, and then I heard in my mind:
“What about me?”
Oh, hello there Jesus.
Last year I spent a lot of time with Paul. I studied Acts (immediately after Luke as someone suggested it was a good idea as they are both written by Luke) and some of his Epistles.
Prior to Christmas I read John Eldredge’s latest “Beautiful Outlaw” which explores the humanity of Jesus. I hadn’t spent a lot of time thinking about Jesus being a man, just like you and I. I guess I had thought He was God so while He was here He was a bit of a superman of sorts.
This is obviously a complete error in my theology; as He needed to let go of His divinity so He could experience our life, then die, so we could be saved.
“Beautiful Outlaw” is a fantastic read and taught me a great deal. I particularly appreciated the point that Jesus didn’t just come to sacrifice Himself for us, but He came as an example to us of how to live. Yes, naturally the way He served but also the way He depended on the Father. We, too, are to live like that, clinging to the Father, sometimes, barely, with bloodied fingernails.
Read my review here (insert link). I highly recommend it.
This birthed a hunger in me to know Him more, to better understand Jesus as man and the Son of God.
Bill Johnson said “It’s vital to note that Jesus did all His miracles as a man, not as God.”1 That kinda blows my mind.
After Jesus was baptised the Spirit led him into the wilderness. There He spent 40 days grappling with Satan. It was like Jesus needed that experience to learn complete dependence on the Father. Remember, He was just a man.
And there’s that great verse in Matthew where He rejects Satan’s first temptation:
“People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matt 4:4)
Jesus had to hold onto the Word to survive those 40 days.
So the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness and then on leaving the desert, “He returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit,” (Luke 4:14).
The ancient Greek word used for “power” was “dunamis” one of the meanings for which is “miraculous power”. “Dynamite” is a derivative of dunamis so we can get a picture of what power Jesus possessed. The locals were soon to see that dynamic power in action.
What’s incredible, however, is Jesus then gave us the same power!
“When Jesus called the twelve together, He gave them power and authority to drive out demons and to cure diseases, and he sent then out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.” (Luke 9:1-2)
I understand from my studies “dunamis” is used here as well.
I might leave it there.
Till next time.
Note: 1. Bill Johnson “Charisma Magazine, March 2012, Charisma Media. Subscriber exclusive content)
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“It’s time” was all he said. I woke in a DisneyWorld hotel and knew exactly what that meant.
I had wandered for too long trying to ignore the soft knocking in my soul. The life that I could have, should have, want to have. Is it life, or is it relationship – our Creator formed us to be in relationship with Him. I had let that wane, subside, and so the knocking continued.
I still believed in God, Jesus and the Holy Ghost. I was conscious of sin and mindful of what I did, said, and thought. But there was little consequence.
But now, here in the Boardwalk Hotel, on a much needed holiday in January with Fiona, my time had come. Jesus, He wanted me to come back, to renew our friendship. I’d been away too long.
Funny, at the time I didn’t spend a long time thinking about it. But it stayed with me, those two little words. Even when we got back home a few days later, I didn’t immediately respond.
But those two words set in train a year that changed my life.
I’ll never forget it.
I gave up my baby that I conceived and had a key part in birthing, Virgin Mobile, I starting talking with Dan and Jake, but most importantly, I returned to Jesus.
Like the prodigal son, I guess, I came home and there He was, standing with open arms, welcoming me back. Jesus. His embrace was incredible, so gracious and soothing. He no longer cared about the past few years, all that mattered was I was home.
What did it feel like when you found your way back to Jesus having left Him? Or even, the first time you experienced His embrace?
I was reading something today that used the image of the ocean to depict the journey of life. It struck a cord with me.
When we’re at the beach we typically wade into the shallow end, hover a little, or in my case a long time, before diving into deeper waters. My boys, Dan and Jake, are very quick to get into the deep – they’re confident swimmers and love the thrill of being at the mercy of such power and conquering it when they successfully ride a wave. Even being dumped is an exhilarating sensation: you had a go and the power of the surf gotcha this time. Oh well, let’s have another go and see who wins out. Riding a wave into the shoreline is a fantastic feeling being in unison with nature for a few seconds.
Ten years ago I ventured into the deep and thrashed around for a while, as I wrote my novel. I got tired of the battle and needing money, took the easy option to swum back into the shallows. And stayed there for almost five years whilst pining for the deep. Having made some great progress spiritually, in my relationships and with the manuscript, I retreated. I soon got sucked back into the whirlpool of work, my workaholic tendencies resumed and my heart retracted.
Don’t get me wrong, there were some real enjoyable moments, doing what you’re good at is fun and comforting, and working with some great people. But the ache of the deep wouldn’t leave me.
Soon the monotony of swimming laps along the shoreline became boring, moments of exhilaration of achievement were sparse. More significantly, my heart waned, no longer charged by the wonder of being terrified and elated simultaneously.
Circumstances were forced on me – thanks God.
I believe I’m now being called into the deep. To swim way out beyond anywhere I’ve ever swum. To follow my heart and, to trust.
Yes, I’m bound to take in water and maybe I’ll go close to drowning but it’s what I got to do. To satisfy my yearning. To fill my void.
To be obedient.
I take great comfort from God’s words to Joshua as he set out to take back the Promised Land. “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Joshua 1:5)
How do you practice obedience? And what tips do you have for those moments when you’re taking in water, self-doubt and sheer panic set in? It’s too late to turn back; you’re in too deep.
I had attended a reunion of one of my previous employers. It’s been 20 years since I left this company, having worked there for the best part of ten. I really enjoyed my time there and still think back on those days with great fondness.
But it’s the few minutes I spent with the final person I caught up with that stayed with me for a long time after the event. This is someone who has made it – senior executive, leader, super income, lives in prominent street in prominent suburb, kids in private schools, spent time overseas with company, and the list goes on. To his credit he’s tremendously humble and gracious, not really taking any of this for granted. During our brief chat and ever since, I’ve sensed a “void” in his heart – it’s like he’s standing in a dream where he sees himself fully alive, happy, fully engaging with everyone around him. He feels trapped, he wants to grab a hold of this “other him”, the life he so wants to have, but he’s unable to take the place of the “other him”, the happy one. He wakes up from his dream, feeling frustrated, anxious almost, as another day starts, another one where he no doubt will achieve much and have a great impact on those around him: work colleagues, clients, family, and more.
VOID IN MY HEART
I stumbled across these lyrics from a John Mellencamp song, titled funnily enough, “Void in my Heart”. They express my colleague’s emptiness perfectly:
There`s a void in my heart
I can`t seem to fill.
Been a parent,had three children
And a big house on the hill.
Hundred dollar in my pocket
And it didn`t buy a thing.
Now there`s a void in my heart
And a hole in my dreams.
Well I poured miles of concrete
And strung wire for telephones,
Dug ditches whenI was a yound boy
When I first left my parents` home.
Sang my songs for millions of people,
Sang good and bad news,
Now there`s a void in my heart
And a fire at my fuse.
Well I did everything just like they said
So I could find happiness.
Went to school and got a college degree
And at my job I did my best.
As I sit here alone tonight
I see a billion just like me
With a void in their hearts and running from eternity.
There`s a void in my heart I can’t seem to fill.
I do charity work when I believe in the cause
But in my soul it bothers me still.
Hey, Lord, well you made me like I am.
Can You heal this restlessness?
Will there be a void in my heart
When they carry me out to rest?
Mellencamp describes it well. We all have experienced this feeling at some time in our lives: a hole in my heart and under-nourished relationships.
I think this malaise is very prevalent amongst men – Mellencamp puts a number to it, “a billion…” We’re fed the lie about career, achievement, getting stuff whether it’s possessions, sex, power, whatever. Even doing good “charity work”, as Mellencamp suggests, doesn’t fill the void. None of it fills the hole. Why has depression become so prevalent in society when we are the most affluent society to walk the earth? And it’s not just the have-nots that are suffering, it’s those who have enjoyed the fruits of our affluence.
I sense it in many men I meet.
As Mellencamp cries out in question – “Hey, Lord, well you made me like I am,” – is this it, or am I supposed to live the rest of my days with this restlessness?
I feel lucky because I’ve felt pursued, pursued by God. (More of that later). And I reckon He didn’t make us to live with this restlessness.
“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Jesus says in John 10:10b. So it’s pretty clear then in answer to Mellencamp’s cry – we weren’t created to live with a void.
So how do we fill it? How do have life to the full?
There’s lots I don’t know yet, but I’ve started out on the journey I should have commenced 30 years ago when I first met Jesus at 16. As a good friend said to me only today, he reckons his first 48 years were an apprenticeship and now life really starts. Well, that’s kinda how I feel too. I’m extremely grateful to be able to start out on this discovery.
I hope you will share it with me and I hope you stop by every so often, add your thoughts on your own situation as it’s likely many will be experiencing the same and I could sure do with the added encouragement too.