What is the Way to Real Life?: renunciation and realization with Jesus Christ

Celtic Cross

I call on you, my God, for you will answer me;
turn your ear to me and hear my prayer.
Show me the wonders of your great love,
you who save by your right hand
those who take refuge in you from their foes. (Psalm 17:6-7)

Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 10:37-39)

To take refuge in God through Jesus Christ is to forsake all other “lives” so that we might truly live in Him. The things and people we associated with those other “lives” are radically revalued in light of absolute allegiance to Christ as well as the absolutely more true love found in God through Him.

We find that all other lives were not really life as be behold the glory of the Lord and step forward to follow Jesus. “The old has gone and the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17) “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3).

In our daily lives, we begin the day—and continue through the day—with renunciation and realization. By faith we renounce our selves as king and realize that God is King. We renounce our will for the day—whether good or evil—and realize God’s will for the day, which is supreme. We renounce our approach to others—whether well-intentioned or wrong-intentioned—so that we might hear and follow (realize) God’s approach to others. We die to ourselves, our possessions, our relations, our dreams—whether we evaluate them as good or bad in light of God’s revealed truth—that we might live to God in Jesus Christ. We live toward His ideal life for our, our relationships, our possessions, our dreams, not our own.

First the cross, then the crown. First renunciation, then realization. This pattern defines our living minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years. Any other way is not the Jesus way and, therefore, is not life. But here, in this way of the Cross, we will find what Jesus promised: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).

The Good News of the Resurrected One [The Good News of Jesus]

Jesus Series GFX_App SquareAs we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus at Eastbrook Church, we begin a two-week exploration of “The Good News of Jesus.” This first weekend, with our Easter celebration, we turn our attention to the account in John 20:1-10 about Jesus’ empty tomb.

While so much could be said about Jesus’ resurrection, in my message this past weekend at Eastbrook, “The Good News of the Resurrected One,” I brought three specific aspects of Jesus’ resurrection into focus:

  • light overwhelming darkness
  • freedom overcoming prisons
  • life overpowering death

You can view the message video and sermon outline below. You can follow the entire series at our web-site, through the Eastbrook app, or through our audio podcast.

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Wisdom and Knowledge

2014-11-13 13.14.09We have information without knowledge, and the knowledge we have does not lead us to wisdom.

Wisdom is fashioned through reflection upon the crucible of living with knowledge, inadequate knowledge, or lack of knowledge.

Yet, the crucible of life is often that against which we medicate ourselves or from which we insulate ourselves.

We arch our backs like a baby in pain or discomfort doing whatever we can to avoid the crucible of life.

We seek the ecstasies of life through the pathways of thrill-seeking and the pleasure-dome, yet the rude reality is that this ecstasy ceases to be ecstatic when we attempt to maintain it perpetually.

What we are truly seeking to attain is satisfaction, joy, and contentment but it is incredibly elusive.

Why is it that the things we pursue so diligently fail to satisfy us when we finally attain them?

Why are so many lottery winners depressed?

Why do famous people often feel so empty?

Why is it that the toy a child so desperately wanted for Christmas sits neglected in a corner of a closet just a few months later?

What are we searching for and how do we find it, maintain it, and live in it?

If we knew what it is would that help us, guide us, or merely torture us?

Would we know how to convert our searching into wisdom or merely languish in something else?

Solzhenitsyn on Life, Death, and Humanism

83678-004-68442A7BI came across this stunning paragraph from Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn‘s 1978 commencement address to Harvard University when re-reading Stanley Hauerwas‘ book A Community of Character the other day. As I was working on my message from this past weekend at Eastbrook, I found Solzhenitsyn’s words a helpful encouragement for the right direction I was going.

If humanism were right in declaring that man is born to be happy, he would not be born to die. Since his body is doomed to die, his task on earth evidently must be of a more spiritual nature. It cannot be unrestrained enjoyment of everyday life. It cannot be the search for the best ways to obtain material goods and then cheerfully get the most out of them. It has to be the fulfillment of a permanent, earnest duty so that one’s life journey may become an experience of a moral growth, so that one may leave life a better human being than one started it.

Is Jesus Really the Only Way? (discussion questions)

3 Questions Series Gfx_ThumbHere are the discussion questions that accompany my message, “Does Jesus Really Give Us Life?,” from this past weekend at Eastbrook Church. This is the third and final part of our series, “3 Questions We All Have About Jesus,” where we delve into Jesus’ provocative statement: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

Discussion Questions:

  1. How would you explain your goal in life, or your understanding of what ‘real life’ is?
  1. This week we conclude our three-week series, “3 Questions We All Have About Jesus,” by looking at Jesus as the Life. In John 14:6 Jesus says, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Before you begin this study, ask God to reveal His truth to you as you read His word.
  1. The theme of life pervades Jesus’ teaching in the Gospel of John. Read the following verses which mention ‘life’ or ‘eternal life’ and describe what they tell us about God, Jesus, and life:
  • John 1:4
  • John 3:15-16
  • John 4:14
  • John 5:19-40
  • John 6:35-58
  • John 11:25-26
  • John 12:23-26
  • John 17:1-3
  1. In light of everything you just read, what do you think Jesus is trying to say in John 14:6-7 about being the way and the truth and the life?
  1. Some people say that religion – or even Christianity specifically – is a straightjacket that takes the ‘life’ out of life. What would you say to someone who feels this way? If you feel this way yourself, why do you feel this way?
  1. In John 10:10, Jesus makes one of His most well-known statements about death and life. Given the verses around it (John 10:1-18), what do you think it means to have full or abundant life in Jesus Christ?
  1. Would you say that you are living the abundant life in Jesus Christ right now? Why or why not? How might you take a step deeper into life with God?
  1. What is one specific thing that God is speaking to you through this study about the life with God found in Jesus? How will that shape your life in the coming week? If you are with a small group, discuss that with one another and pray for one another. If you are studying on your own, write it down and share it with someone.

[Response: As we draw this series to a close, you may still have unresolved questions about Jesus. We would love to talk through those with you in person or via email. Reach out with your questions either by emailing us (info@eastbrook.org), writing them on a connect card, visiting the Eastbrook Church Facebook page, or calling the church office (414.228.5220).]