Defining my Neighbor
by Jason Cruise
Not long ago a friend of mine had a situation that crossed his path. While is surely was a good opportunity to intervene in the lives of people in need, that doesn't mean that you should respond to every single opportunity, for unmet needs are everywhere you look. Even Jesus didn't respond to every single need.
My brother brought up a solid question, one which I've stared at many times in hopes of finding an answer. He asked "What is the will of God for me in this situation? That's what I cannot quite determine."
As we began to work through all the mechanics that made this issue truly difficult, we began to see clearly that the real question was, "What does loved demand?" When Jesus said, "love your neighbor as yourself" He meant it.
The problem, at least for me anyway, is trying to determine exactly who is my neighbor? Is it my business network, my actual neighbor Kevin and his family, or is it someone in India I've never met? In today's world, you may be in a tighter relationship to someone you work with four states away, yet talk with every week, while not even knowing the name of someone who lives four houses down the street.
Who is my neighbor?
I am fully convinced that Jesus does not hold me responsible for everyone in the world. People will die tonight in Budapest whom I've never met. I am not responsible for them.
I am responsible for those whom God puts in my path. My neighbor Kevin is in my path. My business colleagues are in my path, and occasionally, as in the case of my friend who stoked this question once again in my heart, yes, occasionally, God puts someone in my path whom I cannot overlook. I cannot walk around them. I cannot step over them as if they are not there. I know they are there, and I am forced to deal with it, for God has put them there. I must walk to them ... because love demands it.
Defining my Neighbor
by Jason Cruise
A few days ago I was eating lunch at a golf course. From my table I could see a man on the range hitting ball, after ball, after ball ... struggling. Some shots were on line, but most of them were strays.
I grew up in the game of golf. My dad is a retired PGA Professional. Needless to say, I've probably had more golf lessons than 10 people who play the game. Do that enough, and you learn a lot about the fundamentals of the swing. Getting that knowledge from your head to your body is the tough part, which is why you don't see me playing on television on Sunday my friend!
As I watched my fellow linkster beat range balls into submission it occurred to me that no amount of time on the range was going to improve his game with any noticeable results. He may improve a few strokes over time, but his golf game was fatally flawed for one single reason ... he simply didn't know how to improve it.
His game, and its future, was, in the most literal sense, forever hobbled by his lack of knowledge about the fundamentals.
On a side note, he's no different than any of us who came up through the game. Everyone must pass from beginner to veteran, so it's nothing to be ashamed of at all; and, veteran doesn't mean you can break par consistently. In fact, this fellow on the range had every bit of game within him to be a solid golfer, if he only would come into the knowledge of how the swing actually works. How to cure his reverse weight shift. How to radically improve his grip. How to stop laying his club off so drastically at the top. He needed someone to tell him the truth; and, if that could happen, if someone could intervene in his life, then he'd save a ton of money on equipment over time, his scores would consistently be lower, and golf, in and of itself, would actually be something to be enjoyed.
My guess is this ... if I were to walk out on the range right now and start working with this guy in the orange shirt, I'm willing to bet that in time, he'd get better. Not because I'm a great teacher of the game. No, it's just that I've been down his road. I've been in his shoes. As the years have passed, I simply know more than he does about the fundamentals of his pursuits. I'm also willing to bet that if I approached him in the right spirit, took some time to get to know him, let him know I wasn't a "range pro" and that I wasn't on an ego feed, then I bet he'd welcome my intervention simply to help him improve for his sake and his sake alone.
Today you are going to encounter people who are spending a lot of money trying to figure out how to be happy. You're going to lock eyes with people who are grinding it out, every day, beating balls over and over again in hopes of finally catching a break where something changes for the better in their job, their marriage, or with their finances at home. The sad reality is, they won't find it, because they don't have someone to intervene and tell them the truth about life and what it means to know the Truth giver who can set them free.
So often we think nobody wants to hear what we have to say about our God. When things were at their worst for you, and you knew you had lost your "swing" in life, were you looking for some truth that could set you free? You bet you were.
Don't let the enemy deceive you into thinking that the people you encounter ever day are somehow not in search of a fresh breath of life and deliverance from the burdens of their souls.
How, then, can they call on the One they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the One of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?
- Romans 10:14
And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us.
- 2 Corinthians 5:21
Obedience. It Really Isn't That Complicated
by Jason Cruise
A few days ago I was reading an article that was gauging reaction to the NAACP's recent endorsement of President Obama's decision to support gay marriage. The article referenced many pastors and their thoughts about current efforts to bring this issue, once again, to the forefront of national conversation.
I was a bit amazed to see several pastors who actually admitted to having a hard time deciding exactly where to come down on this issue of same sex-marriage.
There's an old cliché which asks a rhetorical question, "How do you turn a large ship? Constant pressure on a small rudder." A river of any size, given time, centuries in some cases, eventually wears down the banks and cuts into them, forcing it's overt will through sheer pressure.
Every single day in the media you are being told that if you do not support homosexuality and an individual's right to choose such an alternative lifestyle, then you are homophobic, uneducated, anti-intellect, and hateful.
For a follower of Christ here's the issue at hand: you either believe the Scriptures or you don't. You either accept God's sovereign rule over that which He created or you don't. You cannot pick and choose areas to which you'll be obedient and still call yourself a devoted follower of Christ. Yes, we all fail. We all sin. We all, at times, knowingly disobey our Lord; yet, this isn't the defining point concerning obedience. A heart that is fully devoted to Christ is a heart that is resolved to do one's best to be obedient and accept His truths as sovereign over all areas of life.
Obedience isn't relative. Pop Culture never has, nor ever will, obtain the biblical right to define obedience in the eyes of God. For a believer in Christ, the issues surrounding homosexuality actually aren't complicated at all. Let us not be deceived brothers. Being full of hate is what makes you hateful. Refusing to learn is what makes you uneducated. Obedience isn't relative to education, for if it were, then only educated people could be obedient to God, which would leave out a vast portion of the entire planet which is full of people who have no access to formal education beyond grade school.
Obedience to God has nothing to do with bigotry. Absolute resolve to honor God's word doesn't make you a bigot. It makes you an unapologetic follower of the Lord God Almighty, who, in the end, is going to be your Judge. Better to be a man who seeks to stand clean at the Judgment than one who seeks to avoid the temporary wrath of a culture that is itself soon to come under eternal judgment.
Relieved By Inability
by Jason Cruise
A few weeks back I was walking through an airport and saw this sign with a quote from Albert Einstein. All I could say was "amen." "Everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live it's whole life believing that it was stupid". Albert Einstein.
For the first many years of my ministry I operated under the grand illusion that a leader must be well-rounded. Such an approach to life and career is not only toxically stressful, it's not even biblical. You see, God never made you to be good at everything. That's why as followers we are called a "body" of Christ.
The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. 1 Corinthians 12:12
God made you with a specific gift-mix, a specific mentality, and a specific personality to help you maximize the "you" He intended you to be. Act outside of that, and you actually frustrate the very reasons you were created. Many men are obsessed with fear of failure, and thus focus only improving their weaknesses. Like Einstein's fish, such a creature would spend a well-gifted life in the rut of depression and ineffectiveness if it only focused on what it couldn't do; when that which it couldn't do, it was never intended to do in the first place!
The path to discovering why God created you begins with asking. Ask Him to reveal your calling, and then, brother, measure yourself by your obedience to that calling, not by the distraction of that to which you were never called.
Jason Cruise is the founder of Mission. Mission was created to "vindicate the fatherless" in a country known as Moldova. To learn more go to www.themissionvision.net Jason is a well known speaker traveling across the country sharing his love for Christ at wildgame dinners and conferences. Jason has created many valuable resources for the outdoorsmen to take them deeper into their walk with their Creator. These items include DVD's, Bibles, and Bible studies.