Thursday, December 29, 2011

"Blue Like Jazz" and Making Choices

Following Jesus isn't just about life after death or a place called heaven. It's very much about where we are right now.

In Blue Like Jazz, author Donald Miller explains this by introducing readers to his friend, Tony. Tony, a Jesus-follower, thinks Jesus really wants to significantly impact this life, right now. He believes Jesus aims to make this life an off-the-chart better experience for us. Jesus does this by offering a radical, game-changing alternative in how we decide what we'll do moment-by-moment. It's like Tony is suggesting a brand new, mental filter to pour life through.

But first, the old filter.

In Blue Like Jazz, Donald inserts a story, complete with pictures, to depict the predominant filter (me-life) for humans. Life gets poured through this old filter. It only releases those choices consistent with a life lived the way I prefer to live it; a life chasing what I want to have ; and life spent doing what I want to do. Donald's story is called "Sexy Carrot," starring Don Rabbit. Take a couple of minutes to watch it.

Don Rabbit's pursuit came down to this: "I see what I want and go for it, fully expecting the very best results when I get it." But getting the carrot becomes a bum deal!

Donald tells about Tony's take on a game-changing alternative, which restructures how we decide to do what we do:
Ultimately, (now) we do what we love to do (a me-life filter). I (Donald) like to think that I do things for the right reasons, but I don't, I do things because I do or don't love doing them. Because of sin, because I am self-addicted, living in the wreckage of the fall, my body, my heart, and my affections are prone to love things that kill me. Tony says Jesus gives us the ability to love the things we should love (Jesus-life filter). Tony says that when people who follow Jesus love the right things, they help create God's kingdom on earth, and that is something beautiful (Donald Miller. Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality).
To me, this is how the transformation looks:
1. Our human default is to do what we love to do.

2. Jesus offers us the ability to love the things we should love.

3. When humans actually begin to love the right things...

4. They help bring God's quality of life to earth...

5. Which becomes something beautiful.
If all of this were true, would it ramp up your curiosity about Jesus?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Do you think Jesus likes a good bike ride?

I don't know who wrote this story, but I know friends who embody it:


"I used to think of God as my observer, my judge, keeping track of the things I did wrong, so as to know whether I merited heaven or hell when I die. He was out there, sort of like a president. I recognized His picture when I saw it, but I didn't really know Him.

But later on, when I met Jesus, it seemed as though life was rather like a bike, but it was a tandem bike, and I noticed that Jesus was in the back helping me pedal. I didn't know just when it was He suggested we change, but life has not been the same since I took the back-seat to Jesus, my Lord. He makes life exciting. When I had control, I thought I knew the way. It was rather boring, but predictable. It was the shortest distance between two points.

But when He took the lead, He knew delightful long cuts, up mountains, and through rocky places and at break-through speeds; it was all I could do to hang on! Even though it often looked like madness, He said, "Pedal!" I was worried and anxious and asked, 'Where are you taking me?' He laughed and didn't answer and I started to learn to trust. I forgot my boring life and entered into adventure. And when I'd say, 'I'm scared', He'd lean back and touch my hand.

He took me to people with gifts that I needed, gifts of healing, acceptance and joy. They gave me their gifts to take on my journey, our journey, my Lord's and mine. And we were off again. He said, 'Give the gifts away; they're extra baggage, too much weight.' So I did, to the people we met, and I found in giving I received, and still our burden was light.

I did not trust Him, at first, in control of my life. I thought He'd wreck it, but He knows bike secrets, knows how to make it bend to take sharp corners, jump to clear high rocks, fly to shorten scary passages. And I am learning to shut up and pedal in the strangest places, and I'm beginning to enjoy the view and the cool breeze on my face with my delightful constant companion, Jesus.

And when I'm sure I just can't do any more, He just smiles and says... 'Pedal!'"