Sunday, June 3, 2018

The Role of Faith In Healing

The Role of Faith In Healing

(This is an excerpt from my next book, "Heal Like Jesus." - to be released this summer)

What is the role of faith in healing?

The Biblical accounts of Jesus’ healing ministry put a great deal of emphasis on faith. But faith means different things to different people. There is a lot of confusion, bad theology, and abuses in many healing ministries today. There seems to be different understandings of the word “faith,” and in the requirements for receiving healing. Many faith healers put the onus on the sick person declaring that they must have enough faith to be healed. When they are not healed they often blame the sick person for a lack of faith. There are many possible reasons why a person is not healed.

We do read throughout the Gospels of Jesus telling healed people that it was their faith that made them well and we also read where Jesus not able to accomplish miracles in some places because there was a lack of faith. Obviously, faith is important.

Looking upon the scriptural passages of Jesus healing ministry we see faith manifested by different people at different times with the same results, people were healed. In some cases, the sick person had enough faith to approach Jesus - notably the woman with the issue of blood. In other cases, friends had enough faith to take a sick or blind person to Jesus for healing. In the case of the paralytic at the pool of Bethesda, Jesus was the only one that had faith. Yet all of these people were healed. We see also where the lack of faith required taking a blind man out of town for prayer and removing doubters from the home in order for Jesus to raise Jairus’ daughter from the dead.[Mark 5]

The Greek word translated as “faith” is “pĂ­stis,” which has the understanding of “confidence,” “certainty,” or “trust.” Other uses of the word could be “trustworthiness,” and “guarantee” or “assurance” in the sense of a pledge or oath with the two nuances of “trustworthiness” and “proof.[Theological Dictionary of the New Testament: Abridged in One Volume.]”

Faith can also represent a belief system, such as a person of the Christian Faith. But we do not have any indication that right theology is a requirement for being healed.

When a paralytic was brought to Jesus on a mat [Matthew 9:2], Jesus recognized the faith of his friends who brought him. Did Jesus decide to heal this man because of their faith or was Jesus able to heal him because of their faith?

To the blind man,[Matthew 9:28-31] Jesus asked, “Do you believe I am able to [heal]?” When the blind man responded positively Jesus healed him.

When the woman with the issue of blood [Mark 5:28-34] touched Jesus robe, she was healed. Jesus told her, “your faith has made you well.”

On and on we see similar instances of Jesus healing and pronouncing that faith was responsible for their healing, but there are instances where He healed when Jesus alone believed, such as the High Priest’s servant in Luke 11:50-51.

When Jesus returned to His hometown, He was amazed at their lack of faith. He found that He could not do any miracles, but He did lay hands on a few people to heal them.[Mark 6:4-6] Jesus was always willing to heal those who came to Him with faith.

There is an important passage in Matthew’s Gospel that helps us understand the role of faith in healing. A certain Roman army commander, a centurion, came to Jesus and asked Him to heal his servant.[Matthew 8:8-13] He didn’t ask Jesus to go to the servant, he merely asked Jesus, “only speak a word.”

As a soldier, he understood authority. As a commander, he would speak orders and the troops would obey. He Recognized Jesus’ authority to heal and knew that whatever Jesus ordered would be accomplished because He had authority to heal.  Jesus marveled at the soldier's faith and told the crowds following Him that He had not found such great faith, not even in Israel.

So He told the Roman commander, “Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you." The servant was healed within the hour. In essence, the centurion had the certainty that Jesus had the authority and the ability to order the healing of his servant, and it would be accomplished.

Jesus called this “great faith.” 

We do not know the relationship between the Roman leader and Jesus. He was probably not a follower of Jesus, but we do know that he understood authority, and he knew Jesus had the authority over sickness. This was faith in Jesus’ ability to heal. Did Jesus decide to heal the centurion’s servant because of the soldier’s faith or was Jesus able to heal because of the existence of that great faith?

Over many years of praying for the sick and oppressed, we have noted that Christians raised in an authoritarian system have a far better chance of receiving their healing. Does this mean there is a connection between a hierarchal system and faith? Empirical evidence points that way and it certainly worked with the centurion. Accepting the authority of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is a matter of faith. We note that Jesus honored the centurion’s faith even though his faith was based on authority rather than love. Is it possible that the Post-Modern’s rejection of authority has affected the ability of some churches to heal?

Rejecting the authority of God today is akin to the lack of faith that kept Jesus from performing miracles in Nazareth. 

Some of the leaders of the so-called “Faith movement” misuse the issue of faith. Some have taught that God must respond to our prayers because we speak them in faith.  In the “hyper-faith" doctrine, it is faith that effects changes not God. Christian author Hank Hanagraaff has openly criticized this movement and writes;[Hanegraaff, Hank, Christianity in Crisis, Harvest House, Eugene, Oregon, 1993, pp66]

"Words are containers that carry the substance of faith.  In Faith theology, if you speak words of faith, you activate the positive side of the force; if you speak words of fear, you activate the negative side of the force.  In faith vernacular, this is called 'making positive or negative confessions.'  The Faith movement would have us believe that everything that happens to us is a direct result of our words."

A scripture that is often quoted (in part) by the hyper-faith community relates a conversation between Jesus and His disciples where He tells them that if they do not have a doubt in their heart, they can speak to a mountain and it will move into the sea. [Mark 11:22-24] Then Jesus adds, “Whatever things you ask for when you pray, believe and you will have them.” They pass over verse 22 which requires a faith in God, not a faith in their words.

Faith is not a magical substance or an incantation. Faith is always a faith in a person. Faith is first of all faithfulness or loyalty. It is one of the Fruits of the Holy Spirit listed in Galatians chapter 5 and listed as a gift of the Holy Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12.

In some of his epistles, the Apostle Paul commended the people for their loyalty to Christ.[Romans 1:8; Ephesians 1:15; Col. 1:4]  Faith in its simplest form is unshakable and unchanging loyalty to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Faith is confident Hope[Hebrews 11:1]. Faith is betting your life there is a God. Faith is also a true belief.

The Apostle writing to the Hebrews tells us that faith requires two things; 1) Believe that God exists, and 2) believe that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.[Hebrews 11:6] But there has to be a significance to this belief, It must mean something, the significance of what we believe causes us to act in certain ways. Faith is not just the acceptance of beliefs. Faith must result in action. Abraham left his comfortable hometown, not knowing where He was going, to follow God’s call.  He took God absolutely at His word, When God promised, and commanded Abraham moved.

Faith is complete trust and complete surrender to Jesus Christ, acceptance of all He offers, and all that He is. It is our approach to God - in complete confidence - that all He has said and all He has done are absolutely true. The only way to a right relationship with God is to take Jesus at His word and to cast ourselves on His mercy. That means accepting His authority.

Responding to God’s love and authority is faith in action. As we look at the Honor role of God’s faithful heroes in Hebrews 11, we read: By faith, Able offered to God. By faith, Enoch was taken up. By faith, Noah prepared an ark. By faith, Abraham obeyed. By faith, Sarah conceived. By faith, Abraham offered up Isaac. By faith, they passed through the Red Sea….as though they were passing through dry land.

How much faith do we need to receive healing? 

The faith of a mustard seed while we faithfully follow the Lord.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

What Are We Missing

We are coming up on the Feast of Pentecost, the birthday of the Christians church. It was the day when the Holy Spirit came upon a group of believers huddled together in an upper room in Jerusalem and transformed them into a powerful team that transformed the world. Wouldn't it be great for that kind of experience to occur today?

It had been fifty days since Jesus' resurrection and ten days since they watched Him ascend into heaven. For forty days Jesus had taught His followers and commissioned them to continue His ministry. On the day He ascended, Jesus told them to wait in the city for the "promise of the Father," the Holy Spirit, who would empower them to accomplish Christ's will for them. 

One Hundred Twenty believers waited for ten more days.

When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. Acts 2:1-4 (NKJV) 

We can only imagine what that might have looked like. Several years ago I wondered why we do not see that kind of phenomena in our world today and why we have not had that great an outflowing of the Holy Spirit. Yes, there have been many revivals; John Wesley led a revival in England that led to the end of slavery, The Great Awakenings in the early days of the US (1760 and 1806); The Welsh revival that transformed an entire nation, Azusa Street, the Charismatic renewal, and several more. Even today there are pockets of revival still going on. But none like Pentecost.

While reading the biblical account of the birth of the Church, I began to wonder why we do not see this happening today. I do not believe that Pentecost was a single event that started the ball rolling and then petered out. 

There were five elements which all came together at Pentecost.
  1. They had all heard Jesus tell them to wait in Jerusalem for power.
  2. They obeyed His direction and waited for ten days.
  3. For ten days they prayed.
  4. They were all in one accord.
  5. They even took care of business while they waited. They decided upon a replacement for Judas Iscariot. 
Could we recreate these elements and see what God might do? After sharing my idea with my wife, Rita, we began to plan how this might work. Could we even find a small group of people willing to hang out together to wait on the Lord, for ten days -or more? If the one-hour church service runs a little longer we have rebellion.

A couple of weeks later while we were teaching a class on hearing God, I made a short comment about my crazy idea of spending ten days locked up in a room without any teaching or preaching - just prayer, worship, and waiting on God. Unbeknownst to us, some student in the class circulated a sign-up sheet for those who desired to join us in this crazy idea. 18 out of 22 signed up!

That was all the encouragement we needed. We began planning. First, we need a location. After contacting several retreat centers we began to realize that ten days would be cost prohibitive, so we dropped back to two and a half days to start -Friday afternoon, Saturday and Sunday.

We proposed our idea to the Aslan Ministries, Board of Directors who quickly approved the "Break Through" event.

The results were very promising and successful. It was a time of personal renewal but lacked the outreach to the extended community.

I still wonder what would have happened if we could get a group of people together to spend the full ten days in prayer and worship and come together in one accord.

If you want a personal Pentecost, spend ten days listening to God, obeying His call, praying and worshipping Him.

Let me know what you think.


Thursday, May 3, 2018

What is really Going On

It just seems to me that the world is going crazy.There is a geometric growth in anxiety, anger, and frustration. 

Theologians blame it on the approaching "End Times." 

Scientists blame it on entropy; (Newton's second law of thermodynamics) left to itself things are going to get worse.

The level of anxiety is higher now than at any time in my lifetime. There is a frustration in government, ethnic groups, political parties, and religious bodies. As this frustration rises, anger increases. As anger increases, actions become stronger and emotions explode. We see this happening almost everywhere - in our cities and towns and around the world. Frustration is rising in minority communities, in the younger generation, and in middle-class families.
Frustration is at the base of the explosion of violence throughout the world. It is the result of a reality that does not live up to expectations. The level of anger increases as our expectation keep falling short of reality. The level of frustration is the ratio of expectation divided by reality. When our circumstances fall short of our expectatins, frustration increases.
We sell our youth on the idea that if they graduate from college, they will get good paying jobs. They go to school and come back to live in their parents' basement playing video games. We tell interest groups that if they elect this leader, their life will improve. When it doesn't, frustration sets in.

We can solve the problem in two possible ways: lower expectation or improve reality. Lowering expectations has been attempted in several countries with socialism and communism. The state controls everything and owns everything. That evens the playing field for everybody except the ruling class. There is little incentive for workers to excel and the populace lives in mediocrity while the power of the state increases and often leads to tyranny. In all nations where this has been established, it did not lower expectations. We have witnessed lowering of expectations: in the education system as grades were eliminated; in our children’s sports activities where winning was de-valued. 

Lowering expectations will always lead to more frustration

Lowering expectations will always lead to more frustration because the human spirit seeks the frontiers of creativity -the highest reaches of consciousness and wisdom. Plato termed this “A fully functioning person", others have used the term, "healthy personality." Abraham Maslow, in his hierarchy of needs, calls this "a self-actualizing person."

The only viable solution is to change reality, but how?

Twentieth-century missiologist,  Donald MacGavren, created a term "Redemptive lift." He noted that missionaries in third-world nations noticed an increased standard of living where ever the Christian Gospel took root. 

On my first visit to India, I noticed an extreme contrast between prosperity and poverty. India is the worlds largest democracy with social programs galore, but many people are still locked into an illegal caste system with little hope no hope. There is no expectation of improving the reality of the lower classes. India is making strides to change by outlawing the caste system, but it still exists within certain religious sects.

We can change our reality, but it requires a change in our expectations. We must all expect to grow, increase and improve our lot in life, but this requires hope. The lower classes in India have lost hope.

Any traveler to Israel can witness the contrast between the Israeli controlled areas and the Palestinian controlled areas. Many of the Palestinian controlled are poverty stricken while the majority of the Jewish controlled areas are dynamic and financially stable. 

This is not a result of Israeli persecution of the Arabs. It is more a result of the God they worship. 

We often become like the God we worship. Have you noticed how married couples who deeply love each other become alike? If the god we worship is kind and loving, we tend to be kind and loving. If the god we worship is angry and vengeful, we will become angry and vengeful. If we worship a dung beetle (a scarab) we will become like the dung beetle.

We can change our reality and the reality of those around us. 

Find the right God to worship and allow Him to guide our lives, as a nation, as a tribe, people group, or as an individual human being. Social programs will continue to fail but "Redemptive Lift" is available for those who follow Jesus. 

The Christian Gospel continues to transform individuals and nations.

Feel free to make comments

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Check Your Attitude

As a leader of any group, your effectiveness will depend upon the people that you call on to assist you. There is only so much that you can do yourself. While in industry, my number one criteria in hiring was the attitude of the candidate. I would always select a candidate with a good attitude over a more competent candidate with a bad attitude. A person with a good attitude is teachable and can learn the product and system.
In ministry, we always try to surround ourselves with people with good attitudes. We need others that can lift us up rather than put us down. John Maxwell says we need to be around fire starters, not firemen who pour water on every new idea. 
A while back the San Francisco School Board selected three teachers for an experiment. They explained to the teachers that they were selected because they were the very best in the district. They would be given the ninety best students and were to take off all restrictions, and pour themselves into the kids. They wanted to see how these students could progress. The results of the class were great: Students scored twenty-eight higher than any other group of students. After the experiment, the truth came out. The students were not the best, they were just average students chosen by drawing names. And the teachers themselves were also average teachers whose names had been drawn randomly. The difference in performance of the students was based on the attitude of the teachers. The teachers thought of themselves as great teachers and thought of their students as the best.

Your attitude at the beginning of a task will directly affect the outcome. If you begin with excitement and enthusiasm you have a greater chance of success than if you start with a “wait and see” or “I don’t want to do this.”

So the LORD said to Solomon, "Since this is your attitude and you have not kept my covenant and my decrees, which I commanded you, I will most certainly tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your subordinates. [1 Kings 11:11 ]

Jesus called twelve to be His apostles. These were all common men without theological training. They were fishermen, tax collectors, and other normal vocations, but they all had right attitude.
Luke 6:12-13 One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. 13 When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles:
They were designated apostles for two purposes; that they might be with Him and that He might send them out and have His authority. That is what leaders need - people that fit in relationship, and that can be given authority and represent us. At work, a person's chance of success is thirteen percent product knowledge and eighty-seven percent people knowledge. My attitude toward others often determines their attitude toward me. 
Nordstrom’s Stores did a customer survey to determine why they lose customers. The responses are meaningful; 
1 % died, 3% moved away, 
5% found a better store, 
9% left for competitive reasons, 
14% left because of product dissatisfaction, 
and a whopping 68% quit coming because of the attitude or the indifference of an employee.
Your attitude will affect how you feel - whether you are happy or unhappy. The thoughts in your mind are more important than the events in your life. Our attitude will change when I want it to change - we can control it if we understand the importance of controlling it. It is not what happens to us, but what happens in us. When Clara Barton, Civil War nurse and founder of the Red Cross, was once asked about carrying a grudge, she replied,

I distinctly remember forgetting.

How you know your attitude needs adjustment:
  1. If you lack time for self and for God
  2. Relationships with co-workers is strained
  3. Your spouse tells you your attitude stinks
  4. Your view of people lowers
  5. You become cynical about your life. 

Attitude adjustment techniques:
  1. Say the right word - I am sorry, will you forgive me?
  2. Read the right books.
  3. Listen/Watch the right audios/videos
  4. Hang out with the right people.
  5. Do the right things

Your attitude is contagious

People catch your attitudes just like they catch our colds - by sitting close to us.

How is your attitude today? Share your thoughts or make comment.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Develop an Ear For God

Which is harder, to hear God’s guidance, or to obey His direction? 

If Jesus were to come into your room at night and give you firm direction, you would probably obey without question. But what if He spoke to you in that still, small voice? (1Kings 19:12) Then you could argue that it may not have been God, it may have been my own thoughts, or it might have been the enemy trying to confuse me.

We must all develop an ear to hear God often and clearly, even when He speaks in that still small voice. That still small voice tends to get drowned out by all of the noise around us.

Learning to listen

How well you listen to your spouse, neighbor or friends is an indicator of how well you listen to God. How you listen to others is exactly how you will listen to God. The key to hearing God clearly is learning to listen. You can begin practicing by listening to others.

One of the most loving and healing human acts is also one of the easiest to accomplish. That is listening - not advising or coaching, but sincerely, silently, and fully listening. If you love your spouse or neighbor as you love yourself, you will listen to them. If you love God with all your, heart, mind, and strength, you will listen to Him. There is no greater expression of love than to listen to somebody else. When you listen, you are laying down your life and your agenda to listen and help them reach their agenda.

Listening creates relationships; it helps us connect with others. It values what they have to say. Listening is one of the clearest signs of deep, genuine spirituality.

Some may believe that God no longer speaks to His people, and if you don’t believe He still speaks the odds of hearing Him are pretty slim. At times we may not want to hear. If we hear God speaking to us, we may be required to respond. If we know it is God we have no wiggle room. If there is a doubt in our mind, then we can make excuses. We may not want Him to get too close. When God had given the Ten Commandments, Moses invited the people to come forth to hear His voice. But the people refused (Exodus 20:19-20). But, God can and will break through our blinders and communicate with us regardless of our reasons.

We Need to Hear

When Jesus was asked which was the greatest commandment in the law, He responded;

“Hear O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one. ‘and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. This is the first commandment” (Mark 12:29-30).

Jesus then adds another commandment not found in the Shema but taken from Leviticus 19:18;
 “And the second, like it is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:31) Jesus responded by citing the Shema and the Vaharta, the main prayers of the Jewish faith, found in Deuteronomy 6:4-9.

In the Old Testament, the word for “Hear” or “listen,” is Shema. Shema includes hearing but has a further understanding of obeying the words heard. Obedient hearing brings blessing (Proverbs 8:34), while judgment comes against the refusal to listen.

Zechariah 7:12-13 (NKJV) Yes, they made their hearts like flint, refusing to hear the law and the words which the LORD of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets. Thus great wrath came from the LORD of hosts. Therefore it happened, that just as He proclaimed and they would not hear, so they called out and I would not listen," says the LORD of hosts.

In New Testament usage, the Greek term akouo also refers to the simple hearing and obedience but is often used to denote hearing with faith. (Romans 10:17; Galatians 3:2, 5; 1Thessalonians 2:13). The expectation is that when the gospel is heard it will be responded to in faith and submission. The refusal to listen is considered to be disobedience (John 8:47);

 "Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it." Luke 11:28 (NIV)

Thursday, February 8, 2018


It was Monday, but very different than the rest of my Mondays at work. We had spent the weekend at a men’s retreat and were basking in the afterglow. Monday morning had arrived too early, I arrived at my office late, and only completed a few routine items before lunch. 

I walked a couple of blocks to the salad bar restaurant with the twenty foot long buffet. Grabbing a tray, plate, and soup bowl, I fell in line behind two well-dressed men having a rather animated conversation. They were obviously Christians and were joyfully praising God and sharing.  As they found a table in a corner, I was drawn to them and selected a nearby table.

After the two men sat down and blessed their food, their conversation suddenly changed. The joyful praise turned into an intense, serious discussion. Not wanting to hear their conversation I tried to ignore them and focused on eating, but something strange happened.

It had to be a God thing. What followed was not possible in the natural. My chair was about ten feet away from their table - behind and slightly to to my right. One man was facing toward me, while the other had his back to me. I could not hear any of what the man facing me was saying, but I heard very clearly the words of the man with his back to me. This is not natural.

It became clear that these men were both pastors, and the one whose back was to me was seeking advice from the man facing me. Hearing only one side of the conversation was strange but revealing. To this day, I remember the exact words spoken by the man with his back to me. 

The first thing I heard was, “The problem with my church is that the members do not submit to me as their pastor.”

Later I heard, “The trouble with my family is that my wife does not submit to me as her husband.”

Almost immediately, I sensed a different voice speaking to me - It was the Holy Spirit, “This man is not submitted to Me.”

Basically, I am a shy person. Confrontation is not my bag, but on this day, I was ready to go over and tell this man, “You are having these problems because you are not submitted to God.” 

Fresh from a weekend of fellow-shipping with Jesus and other spirit filled believers, I could be bold. But, the Lord saved me from total embarrassment with His next words, “Sit still, this is a lesson for you.”

That incident was not the end of the lesson. It was the beginning of six months of testing that began that very evening. After gaining a new insight, I wanted to give it away. At a home group meeting that night, a lady began to complain about her financial problems. This was not the first time. She had been having financial issues for years. Armed with my noon time revelation, I told her, “You are having financial problems because you have not submitted your finances to God.”

The woman’s face turned purple with anger and my wife gave me a look that indicated I had committed the unpardonable sin. My statement may have been accurate but that was not the way or place to say it. The meeting ended abruptly. It was a tense and quiet ride home that night – the lady was our neighbor and riding with us.

 There were several more opportunities to give away my new insight and each time it failed to receive its intended respect. Then one day, it hit me. Slamming the car dashboard with my right hand, I shouted, “I get it!”  The lesson God had been trying to teach me was now clear. The enemy of our soul is able to attack us in the areas of our lives that we have not totally submitted to God. It is as if we are under God’s umbrella of protection as long as He has control of our lives. But when we tell God that we would rather be in charge, He may back away and say, “Okay, go for it.”  That is where we get in trouble. 

Submission is a difficult concept for most people in our society today. The word itself evokes images
of abuse and the sense of becoming a doormat. Yet both the Old and New Testaments tell us there will be great benefits when we submit to God. The word translated in the New Testament as “submission” means to place or arrange under. It is like products that are arranged on a display table or an army deployed to go into battle. It is also used to accept someone’s admonition or advice. In our lives we often submit to our boss, the government, our spouse, pastor, or spiritual authority. We may also submit to our possessions, pride, and sin.

But the Bible instructs us to submit to God. Jesus Himself submitted to the Father. He did not do it from weakness but from strength. Our submission must be as Jesus modeled.  

Submission is not becoming a doormat. Submission is more like an elevator. An elevator lifts things up. As we submit to God, we elevate Him. When we submit to our spouse we elevate him or her to a higher position. The purpose of submission is elevation or exaltation. As we submit to God, we exalt Him.

We can be obedient in giving our time, presence, and resources to the church without being in submission. Scripture calls us to give to the work of the Lord. Therefore giving is obedience, but joyful giving and giving cheerfully is submission.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Called to Follow Jesus

Before there was the “Dog whisperer” on television, there was the Horse whisperer. Monty Roberts was raised in the horse business. He learned that there was one way to train horses - by “breaking” them through domination and force which at times included striking the horse with whips or tying and suspending the horse’s feet and legs. The trainer would impose his will upon the animal until it reached the conclusion that total submission was the only way to survive.

In his early teen years Roberts began to study the behavior and communication patterns of wild mustangs in the badlands of Nevada. He took note of the nonverbal communication among the horses, their body language. He named this kind of horse language "Equus." Drawing on his observation and firsthand experience with horses, Roberts developed a breakthrough training technique that he called “hooking on to” rather than “breaking down” the horse’s will. This new training method was based on a concept he eventually trademarked “Join-Up.”

“Join-Up” not only stopped the “breaking” practice of traditional horse training, but it demonstrated how to cooperate with the horse’s own spirit, ways, and means of communicating as a member of the herd. His techniques laid the platform for a partnership between horse and human rather than a coexistence through domination. The personality and full potential of the horse emerge through a loving freedom and desire rather than domination and infliction. Join-Up relies on invitation rather than imposition.

The Join-Up technique invites an untamed horse that has never been ridden to willingly accept the saddle, bridle, and rider. It is a thing of beauty to watch. Monty Roberts enters a round pen with a wild horse. In as little as half an hour, he’ll be riding the horse. Roberts creates an atmosphere of mutual respect that communicates, “I’m not going to hurt you, and you don’t have to follow me if you don’t want to.”

After a brief period of introducing himself and interacting with the horse comes the moment of truth.
Roberts turns his back to the animal and walks away. At this point the horse trains her eyes on Monty with all-out intensity and attention. She is asking herself, Where is he going? and Do I want to stay by myself? The horse must choose: I want to be with you. I want to join up and follow you on the way. She quickly decides: my safe place is with you. Dropping her head (equine language for “I submit to you”) and trotting to Roberts’ side, the horse says, “I choose to follow. I want to be with you.”

That is the Jesus way. Jesus did not come into this world and command us to submit to Him. He came into this world showing us what true love is all about and inviting us to walk along side Him. The Jesus way is our cooperation with Jesus’ “Follow Me.” This is Jesus’ call to all of us.

What do I want to be when I grow up? I want to follow Jesus, I am working on it, but what does it mean to follow Jesus. The Greek word translated “follow” is most often rooted in the word for “road.” There is an ancient African phrase, “Will you walk with me?” It doesn’t mean a stroll or short jaunt around the corner. It means to enter another person’s world, to join his or her journey. To walk with Jesus does not mean to travel behind or in front of but beside him. To follow Jesus on the way doesn’t mean to fall in behind him in a directional sense but to be caught up in what he is doing. Discipleship is the art of being a pilgrim - the artistry of following Jesus. It is to be caught up in what God is doing in the world today.

Imagine you opened your e-mail in-box and discovered you had received an invitation from some superstar - maybe Phil Mickelson - “Come, be with me, and I will teach you everything I know about golf.” Or maybe you would get a call from someone like Bill Gates who wants you to walk with Him and learn how to become successful in business. For those of you who love to sing, what would your reaction be if you received a phone call from Celine Dion, asking, “Will you come and stay with me for a couple of years? I will teach you to sing like me”? For aspiring writers, how incredible would it be to answer a knock at the door and find Maya Angelou inquiring, “Would you like to hang out with me and learn how to write?”

Jesus Himself is calling you to follow Him and learn how to live. There seems to be a natural progression that Jesus proposed: In John 14:6 Jesus said "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. To follow Jesus is to be in the right mission (the way: missional living); to follow Jesus is to be in the right relationships (the truth: relational living.)  To follow Jesus is to be in the right future (the life: incarnational living.) Step 1 is belonging, Step 2 is believing, then step 3 is behaving.

 “When Jesus summoned people into the way, he was inviting them to share a purpose or path (the way), a new set of relationships (the truth), and the beauty of community ( the life). If Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, then His way must be our way, his truth must be our truth, and his life must be our life.” [Leonard Sweet]

“The Jesus way wedded to the Jesus truth brings about the Jesus life.” [Eugene Peterson]

First, we must choose to get on the journey with him—trust him as the “Way.” We realize we want to be with him, to submit to His leadership. The first followers of Jesus were known as those who belonged to “the Way.” They had a way about them. Theirs was not just a shared system of belief that included religious traditions and mystical idiosyncrasies. There were plenty of sects in Jesus’ time like that. But something was different here. These people had a way about how they went about their lives, a way of being that had not been witnessed before. There was something very different about the way these people treated one another, - both insiders and outsiders.

Dictionaries define the word “way” variously—as a habitual manner or characteristic, a method, a direction or vicinity, a passage or path. All of those definitions capture parts of the essence of following Jesus. But followers of Jesus don’t just submit to Jesus’ codes and conduct. They don’t just join him in following a certain path, live in his voice, practice a certain presence from earth to eternity. Most important, the path with Jesus leads to Jesus; the path of life leads to life.

Second, we choose to answer the question, what is truth? This was Pilate’s world-weary question to Jesus, but Pilate was staring in the face of Truth and didn’t know it. Jesus is the Truth, for truth is a Person,not a principle. This relational view of truth contrasts starkly with the world’s way of thinking and demands more than mere intellectual assent. It requires obedience. A follower of the truth is one who follows upon, who trusts and obeys One who is Truth.

Third, we begin to get a life, not a half-life, not term life, but whole life. We learn to re-frame our living based on always pilgriming and always sharing life with Jesus so that “it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” A wayfarer of the life is one who follows so closely that his or her life aligns with the life of the Leader. Note that this template is not only sequential but also simultaneous. We are always on the way, we are always learning more and more about the truth, and we are always gaining more and more of that abundant life Jesus talked about in John 10:10. To follow Jesus is a way - a belonging; is a truth - a believing; is a life - a behaving. It is to have a mission, to be in relationship, to live an incarnate, abundant life.

What does it take to be a Courageous Follower of Jesus:

  • The courage to assume responsibility.
  • The courage to be a servant
  • The courage to challenge.
  • The courage to participate in transformation.
  • The courage to take moral action.

Jesus is summoning you:  “Come, follow me. Come, be with me, and I will do more than teach you the way to live your one and only life. I will give you life.”