Lent: Chapter 2 Am I Loved?

“What does it mean to believe? Most people, regardless of what they think about Him personally, will admit that some- one named Jesus walked the earth 2,000 years ago. They may also acknowledge that Jesus’ teachings have had an incredible impact on an enormous number of people since then. It is entirely possible to believe that Jesus existed without believing in who He claimed to be or in what He taught.

What did Jesus teach that had such a lasting effect on the world? In the first account we have of Jesus speaking to people, He says, “The time has come at last—the kingdom of God has arrived. You must change your hearts and minds and believe the good news.”(Mark 1:15 NASB, emphasis added). The Greek word translated here as “belief ” is pisteúō. It is understood as “to think to be true, to be persuaded of, place confidence in, to entrust a thing to another.” Based on this definition, what Jesus referred to as “belief ” is not a one-time event or a historical fact that can be objectively documented. Belief can apply to a particular situation, but in order for someone to believe a certain thing is true, there needs to be a level of confidence that it actually is true.

Not only was Jesus’ first message about “believing,” but He maintained that simple message throughout His teachings. He often asked people to believe, and He commended belief over and over when He saw it in action” (Chapter 2 Am I Loved?) Petree_cover_front-1

Lent: Belief On Ramp #1

Belief On-Ramp #1

In Chapter 1, the son in Jesus’ story longed to stuff himself with pig slop, but he knew that, even in his deep hunger, the food would not satisfy. The same is true for us. Only one thing curbs our longing, and it’s actually not a thing at all; it’s a return to the Father.

You have read a little of my story, and some of the story of the young man in Luke 15. Now take some time for yourself, at least an hour if you can. Here are a few questions/thoughts to consider:

  1. How do you feel today? (e.g., overwhelmed, confused, great, unfulfilled, lonely)
  2. Complete the following: I tend to try to control my environment or others around me when:

I often / sometimes / rarely seek approval from others.

(If sometimes or often, why do you think this is?)

  1. Have you had a significant moment in your life that caused you to consider the deeper questions of life? If so, how has this changed the way you live?
  2. What is one thing you have a hard time believing could ever change in your life?

Lent 2018: Chapter 1 Am I Loved?

I’d finally “arrived.”

I was in the position I wanted at work, tasked with leading a large group of people toward a common vision. I was receiving a lot of praise for my efforts. My wife, Anna, and I were seven years into marriage, and it was going pretty well.Through some sort of miracle, we had just moved into our dream house. And after three years of trying to conceive a child we were staring at our own three-month- old daughter, Moriah. Life was playing out just as I had hoped.

Until it wasn’t.

Asking the Bigger Questions

It was an opportunity at work that brought me face-to-face with my reality. I was asked to be the keynote speaker at a multi-day event that included many of my peers as well as the teams they led. I was really excited for the opportunity, and I was ready! I would be at the platform a few times each day during the event, and looked forward to the chance to influence others.

Two days into the conference, I realized I was craving feed- back from people as soon as I walked off the stage. As each session ended, my desire for affirmation increased. I was desperate to hear. People did say nice things and affirmed my contribution, but it wasn’t enough—not even close! By the time the event concluded, I was reeling. I felt alone, iso- lated, confused, and downright angry that not more people had commented on my “performance.”

Yeah, that’s it. That’s what it was. It was a performance. I had stood in front of people on that stage, performing. Hoping. Sub- consciously begging my peers to tell me I was great. But what I soon came to realize was that I was not only performing on the stage for a few days during that event, but I was performing every single day. My entire life had become a stage.

I wish I could tell you I realized my propensity to perform in that moment of clarity, quickly remedied the problem, and moved on. But that isn’t how the story played out. In fact, things got worse as I returned home. Anger, depression, fear, loss of sleep, and unexplained medical issues set in. So, I started asking questions—big questions about faith, God, the impact of past experiences, and the importance of relationships.

At the end of this rather painful season of my life, two recurring themes emerged from my reflection: the terrifying presence of Fear and Control, and the notable absence of Peace.