Jonathan Bailey's Blog

The Spirit of the Disciplines, By Dallas Willard.

Been reading through The Spirit of the Disciplines and thought I would post some quotations for anyone interested. This is such a good book. Now if I could just do what it says.

All men of the modern world exist in a continual and flagrant antagonism between their consciences and their way of life.

Leo Tolstoy

 

For God has made no promises of mercy to the slothful and negligent. His mercy is only offered to our frail and imperfect, but best endeavors, to practice all manner of righteousness.

William Law

 

Simon, Andrew, James and John obeyed Jesus literally leaving what they were doing to be with Him. In this way they learned by observation and direct contact and involvement to do what He did and be as He was.

Dallas Willard

 

 

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Observations from Mark 5.1-20

  1. The Gaderenes only hope was to bind this crazed-demonic man so he could do no more harm to himself or others. Jesus solution was to go beyond the physical–He went inside the man’s body and excercised the 2000+ demons. Jesus’ healing always starts inside and moves progressively outward until the whole person is healed, delivered–saved.
  2. Demonic forces enjoy isolating their victims.
  3. Gaderenes/Gerasenes are gentile people living on the East side of the Jordan river.
  4. No one could physically subdue this man!
  5. He was gashing/cutting himself due to the extreme possession.
  6. There seems to be some duality of conscious in this encounter. We see the man come to Jesus and worship, next we see the demons use his vocal chords to speak to Jesus.
  7. The man’s case seemed to be the strongest possession Jesus encountered in the Gospels.
  8. The touching of a grave was considered polluting. (Numbers 19.16)
  9. It’s interesting that demons can enter human beings and animals.
  10. Demons long for bodies because it is the only way they control and participate in the physical world.
  11. A Legion was 6000 Roman Soliders.
  12. The Gaderenes would rather have pigs than Jesus.
  13. Demons are quite possibly fallen angels, but angels don’t seek bodily possession because they know that “The body is for the Lord.” Human beings were built to be in-dwelt by God. So one reason demonic forces invade bodies is to distort that relationship dynamic between God the Spirit and human beings. They try to haphazardly achieve what God only can.

Salvation is NOT for Sale.

Salvation is not for sale. We don’t peddle Jesus like Oxy Clean. Frantically going over all the amazing benefits of this cleansing product. We don’t try to convince people that Jesus is the logical conclusion to the question, Why are we here?

Salvation is the process (not destination) in which Jesus by His Spirit will transform us into His image, i.e. character. Jesus does it–not us. So what do we do? We preach what Jesus preached! We teach what Jesus taught! We lift Him high with our words and our deeds so that people can see Him and vigorously applaud (Matthew 5.16). 

One common thread relentlessly weaving it’s way into the fabric of the American church is the idea that salvation requires  no repentance at all. There is no need to turn and go a different direction. Simply believe.  All you must do is simply agree to some facts–and you’re in! You’re saved a.k.a. going to heaven when you die. Nothing could be further from the truth.

We need preachers and teachers who are not afraid to offend the carnal mind. We need people to stand up and say, “You’re lost! You’re dead! Do you want to live in God’s kingdom now? Then repent and believe in the gospel Jesus preached (Mark 1.14,15). Dallas Willard always ask the poignant question, “Does the gospel I preach make disciples or converts?” We need disciples.

But in order to grow numerically the church declines spiritually.  Worshipping the growth-god pastors throughout the land choose to preach watered-down, feel-good truth and thus makes their followers two-fold more the child of hell than they themselves are (Matthew 23.15).

Help us Jesus

 

“Cheap grace is the deadly enemy of our Church. We are fighting today for costly grace…Cheap grace means grace as a doctrine, a principle, a system. It means forgiveness of sins proclaimed as a general truth, the love of God taught as the Christian ‘conception’ of God. An intellectual assent to that idea is held to be of itself sufficient to secure remission of sins…In such a church the world finds a cheap covering for it’s sins; no contrition is required, still less any real desire to be delivered form sin…Cheap grace means the justification of sin without the justification of the sinner.”
Dietrich Bonehoeffer
The Cost of Discipleship, Pg 1.
Published 1937 

Guarding Instruction

“Take hold of instruction; do not let go. Guard her for she is your life.”
Proverbs 4.13 

Reading this morning I stumbled over a passage of scripture and it stirred my affections once more for Jesus. There is truth in the Proverbs. It is reliable, sound and concrete. And it is Jesus-soaked. (Colossians 2.2,3)

Where do you receive instruction? Where? I have found that Jesus has all of the wisdom and knowledge I need for actual living. He embodies the Proverbs–He lived them. 

So my goal is to take hold of them. Grasp them and never let go. I do let go. Sometimes I forget. I get lazy and complacent. That is why this Proverb rang true in my ears this morning. Once you find this instruction, guard it! Protect it! Watch over it! Cultivate it! Why? It  is because it is the narrow path that leads to life. 

There are so many things I have learned in the last four or five years. Little pieces of instruction that have proved to be like seeds, bursting with life inside. At times I have guarded them with braveheart-like-faith and other times I treat them complacently, like a gardener carelessly forgetting to water his plants day in and day out.

One piece of instruction that has proved life giving is waking up at 6 AM and discipling myself to Jesus: praying in the shower or study, reading and praying through the Psalms, reading through the Gospel of Mark, journaling about my experiences, memorizing large amounts of scripture, blogging, watching the sunset as I skim the Proverbs and reading my favorite authors. All of these things are instruction Jon–never let them go–guard them. 

It is these that draw me closer to Jesus and transform my character more and more into His. That is all I want.

Seek the Kingdom,
Jon

A Lesson From Albert Schweitzer

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When Albert Schweitzer visited America, newspaper reporters asked him why he traveled in the 3rd class section of the train. He answered,”Because there is no 4th class!”

20 Ways of Avoiding Consumptive Society

There is one book that is striking in its wisdom and practicality. I have found it to be one of the few guides to actual living with Jesus in our modern culture. The book is Freedom of Simplicity, by Richard Foster. It was written in the 80’s but is more relevant today than when it was published. One of the most revealing sections is on personal finance especially avoiding consumptive culture. Here is a list of 20 things to aid you in your struggle for simplicity.

1. Join the revolt against the modern propaganda machine.
2. Pray to not acquire more or desire it.
3. Resist planned obsolescence.
4. Reject any junk mail you can.
5. Stress quality of life above quantity of life.
6. Value music, art, horticulture, significant travel, and books.
7. If you are too busy to read, you’re too busy!
8. Discover prayer as an evening entertainment.
9.  Learn the wonderful truth that to increase quality of life means to decrease material desire, not vice versa. 
10. Turn your back on all high-pressure competitive situations that make climbing the ladder the central focus.
12.  The Fruit of the Spirit is not push, drive, climb, grasp and trample.
13. Never put happiness at center stage.
14. Make recreation healthy, happy and gadget free.
15. Encourage cooperative games and play.
16. Learn to eat sensibly and sensitively.
17. Go without food for one day a week and give any money saved to the poor.
18. Eat out less.
19. Buy things for their usefulness rather than their status. 
20. Stop trying to impress people with your clothes and impress them with your life. 

A final word:
“Simplicity does not mean cheapness. Simplicity resonates more easily with concerns for durability, usability and beauty.”

All material provided by Richard Foster, Freedom of Simplicity, Pgs 128-133.

Seek the kingdom,
Jon

Saturday Afternoon Crucifixion

I would be lying if I said that I was less than excited about our service project yesterday. Looking back I realize that I can be a real charlatan sometimes. Flesh can be deceiving. Our mission was to put on a Backyard Bible Project (sort of like VBS) for a government housing project in East McKinney. However, I am not a crafts guy. I am not a singing-hand-motion guy.  I like the more glamorous-adventurous-dangerous service projects like traveling to downtown Dallas and praying and feeding the homeless or staking out an Adult Video Store and praying for the guys who are coming out. Now that is “weighty service.” What a fool I am.  I am just like the disciples who thought the children were not worth Jesus time (Mark 10.13,14).

 13 And they were bringing children to Him so that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked them.14 But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, “Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.

After being there for about 15 minutes something changed in my thinking. I decided to stop being a “serving-snob” and just put my best energy and effort into it. Even if it wasn’t my style of service. I started singing, clapping and doing the hand motions. I tried getting some of the kids doing the hand motions, I helped 2 girls with craft time,  and I colored with Jacob on the Kool-Aid stained floor. I could have easily sat back in the chair with my hands folded and simply supervised,  but thank Jesus I didn’t! I was crucified. 

This morning I read 1 Corinthians 2.2 and realized something like this is what happened yesterday.

“And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. “

 

Repentance is Better than Sacrifice

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Psalm 51.16
“For you do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken and a contrite heart, O, God, You will not resist.” 

This morning around 7:45 AM we had the opportunity to bless the Day laborers of Plano with donuts and socks. After the line of 60 or 70 men and women had vanished Terry and I were left alone leaning up against the hood of the car. Meanwhile Josh was talking to Bob Smith and learning more about his situation and the culture of “The Blue House.”

Terry and I saw a young man, who’s name was DeShawn walking in our general direction with a dark colored hoodie draped over the top of his head. After 30 seconds it was clear he was coming directly for us. DeShawn removed his hoodie and with a big smile greeted us and asked for prayer for the workday and also for some demons that were haunting him. 

DeShawn’s story was just like ours at the core. Simply replace the vice and we related instantly. Sin is everywhere–South Dallas and North Dallas. It just manifest itself in different ways. What was so encouraging this morning is his willingness to openly repent and hold nothing back and ask for prayer. It never fails that when you work with the homeless and destitute, they become more of a blessing than you yourself are to them.

I grabbed DeSawn’s hand and Terry bear-hugged him and began praying blessing, deliverance and above all that the seeds of the kingdom would be planted, fertilized and bear fruit. 

2 Corinthians 6.10
“For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.”

Seek the Kingdom,
Jon 

 

Kingdom Now Project

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I wanted to invite all who are interested to join me and some friends on Tuesday Night as we go to downtown Dallas and feed and pray with the homeless. We will be meeting at my office at 6:30 PM and returning around 9 PM.  We will be passing out cheeseburgers, talking and praying with whoever we come across.  We will not be working with any shelter; it will be just us walking around and talking with folks.

 

If you have any questions email or call me. 

jonbailey@me.com

(214) 284.2597

Repentance Analogy

I was getting ready this morning and my internal wheels were spinning–as usual. I was trying to think of a good analogy for repentance. And then all of the sudden it hit me! The analogy isn’t perfect (like all anologies) but it does highlight an essential aspect of repentance. So here it is:

Repentance is like going reverse in your car.

Can you imagine driving your car without reverse? Most people could not even get out of the garage this morning because they were facing the wrong way. You got to go backwards to go forwards. It’s not like most people use reverse a lot. You probably use it 4 or 5 times a day, the majority of the time your on the road you’re in drive. But how essential is it to driving that you back your car up!

That is what repentance is like. You don’t just do it once. You do it everyday. Maybe 4 or 5 times a day! There is no forward motion in Christlikeness without repentance. You cannot drive with Christ without reversing–and reversing often. Becoming and being a disciple of Jesus requires repentance all the time. Every time you repent is an opportunity to move forward. There is no other way to get out of the garage!

So reverse and get driving! I hope this is helpful for you. 

Does anyone else have any other analogies for repentance? If so, I would love to hear them! Make a comment and let me know!

“I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”

Luke 15.7

 

 

Book Review: Letters by Modern Mystic

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Letters by A Modern Mystic
Frank C. Laubach 

5 Stars! Frank Laubach is genuine and passionate about keeping Jesus in his mind. If you are wanting to step up your discipleship to Jesus, but don’t know how, then this is the book for you. It logs the journey of Frank Laubach during his missionary stay in the Philippines. He journals about his experiment to keep Jesus in his mind all day.

His plan is outlined in the second half of this book called “Game with Minutes.” His goal was to think a thought about Jesus once every minute of the day. Sounds crazy huh? But he started out small and worked his way up. He first started with every hour and then worked his way to a minute. He found this way of life to be absolutely wonderful and transforming. 

This book is practical and passionate. Rarely do you find both in one single book. Please pick this one up. It’s only 121 small pages. You can easily read it in a weekend or on a long plane trip. It would also make a very good perennial read. Although it’s a small book, it’s a huge challenge he sets before us. It is only by the grace of God we could attain such an amazing level of focus on the risen Lord. Obviously, the Spirit of God has an enormous part to play and as Frank says,

“My part is to live this hour in continous inner conversation with God and in perfect responsiveness to His will, to make this hour gloriously rich. This seems to be all I need to think about.”


 

Learning from that Little Drummer 3

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I Played My Best For Him

What mom would want their baby serenaded with a drum? Maybe a piano, guitar or harp, but not a drum. That’s why I love this little drummer. Serenading baby Jesus with a drum was not a conventional idea. But it was what he had in his hands. It was what he knew and had spent his time doing. And so, Mary nodded and away this little boy went drumming.

He played his best for Jesus to honor Him. Not to get anything out of Jesus, not to make himself feel better, but to honor Jesus. When we go to work each and everyday we should work hard and do our best and as we do that we honor Jesus. Don’t think that my work is secular, so there is no spiritual significance. If you think that way, you will be missing out on the majority of your day to be with Jesus as you work.

We should think the thought, “Today I will work hard to honor Christ for the life he has graciously given to me.” Don’t stress out about overworking, just work hard. Do your best. Dallas Willard says, “Ask the question, ‘How would Jesus do my job if He were I?'”

“Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.”
Colossians 3.23,24

Learning from that Little Drummer 2

 

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I Have No Gift…What’s In Your Hands?

What do you give a King? What gift could possibly be given to someone who has so much? If you think it’s hard shopping for your dad each Christmas, try shopping for a king! These lyrics are great because they point to the fact that we are so poor! All of us. It doesn’t matter where you fall on the tax bracket–or if you even fall into it at all. 

We all make the mistake of the Little Drummer Boy. We want to bring a gift that will get some attention–something that will get us noticed. We want a big expensive gift for Jesus. Jesus doesn’t want our money; He wants our lives. He wants everyday, every hour, every minute–every second. And this song points out this fact so well. What is in your hands? What do you do everyday? Do you clean teeth? Sell cars? Make PowerPoints? Teach 8 year olds? What do you do? What is in your hands? 

Bring that to Jesus! Don’t think for a second that your work doesn’t have value or meaning for Christ because it doesn’t have anything to do with “full-time christian ministry.”  It doesn’t matter what we do, what matters is how we do it. Part 3 will be tomorrow.

“Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”
Colossians 3.17 

For Jesus,
Jon

Fasting

I fasted on Monday and I have found something out by doing it.

My ability to be annoyed and angered was greatly increased. I wanted lunch so bad. I wanted my little apple sauce cup! That reminded me of what Dallas Willard said one time, “Fasting teaches us to be sweet and strong when we don’t get our way.” 

That is exactly what I need, to be sweet. Not to be an arrogant bastard, but be gentle and sweet. Fasting it seems is the training ground where I am going to learn this. It puts me into the fight all day long. I am keenly aware of my need and I must remember to focus on Jesus and trust Him to grow the fruit of kindness and gentleness inside of me.

I realize now what a spiritual disciplined infant I am. I cannot imagine a 2 or 3 day fast! I would love to try it because I know my flesh would get very agitated. I would like to practice this again soon. I have found fasting to be a flashlight pointing out and illuminating my ugly sin. I pray that through this self-denial Jesus will change me.

And, that each day, more and more,  I will be transformed into His image.

 

To Honor Jesus,
Jon

Learning from that Little Drummer

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So, this year I am listening to the grand old Christmas carols and trying to learn the words and understand the lyrics. One song that has especially surprised me and I have come to love is, Little Drummer Boy. I think there is an important lesson to learn in the song. It’s probably more than a lesson; it’s wisdom. Three ideas jump out at me from the stanzas. I will start with the first one and post the others tomorrow and the next day. 

Come They Told Me
Come to Jesus! Jesus is our king! Everyday I try to come to Jesus. That can look like a bunch of different things, it could be spending an hour in the early morning journaling or reading through the gospel of John and taking notes. Coming to Christ is the most important thing we can do each day. And I will go ahead and say, if you can do it in the morning that would be ideal. 

Getting your day started with Jesus is the best. There is no substitute; it beats the newspaper, Good Morning America, the weather or just sleeping in so late that you don’t have anytime before work, school or the kids wake up! Come to Jesus! Come to Jesus! 

“The Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let the one who hears say ‘Come.’ And let the one who is thirsty says, come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.”
Revelation 22.17 

  

The Little Drummer Boy
Come they told me, pa rum pum pum pum 
A new born King to see, pa rum pum pum pum 
Our finest gifts we bring, pa rum pum pum pum 
To lay before the King, pa rum pum pum pum, 
rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum, 

So to honor Him, pa rum pum pum pum, 
When we come. 

Little Baby, pa rum pum pum pum 
I am a poor boy too, pa rum pum pum pum 
I have no gift to bring, pa rum pum pum pum 
That’s fit to give the King, pa rum pum pum pum, 
rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum, 

Shall I play for you, pa rum pum pum pum, 
On my drum? 

Mary nodded, pa rum pum pum pum 
The ox and lamb kept time, pa rum pum pum pum 
I played my drum for Him, pa rum pum pum pum 
I played my best for Him, pa rum pum pum pum, 
rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum, 

Then He smiled at me, pa rum pum pum pum 
Me and my drum. 

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

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A Commitment to Psalm 51

I can no longer afford to live my life without fully digesting and putting to memory Psalm 51. When I am away from my Bible I need it.

I need it in the most unexpected places.

The sheer grace that flows off the ink of each word and into my soul is staggering. To be without this Psalm is, for me, spiritual suicide.

I don’t need some. I need it all.

I want it all, all 19 verses. To repent anytime, anywhere and to do it unselfishly, unworldly–scripturally–is what I need. Psalm 51 on demand. A couple of years ago I put another Psalm to memory and it has proved invaluable to me as I journey with Jesus. This is why I must have Psalm 51.

I need it in me, down deep, taking lodging inside my rib cage and routing pride and selfishness. Thank you Jesus for scripture; it is a blessing to all those who ingest and live it. At least that has been my experience.

Psalm 51

1Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness;
         According to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions. 
    2Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity
         And cleanse me from my sin. 
    3For I know my transgressions,
         And my sin is ever before me. 
    4Against You, You only, I have sinned
         And done what is evil in Your sight,
         So that You are justified when You speak
         And blameless when You judge. 
    5Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
         And in sin my mother conceived me. 
    6Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being,
         And in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom. 
    7Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
         Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. 
    8Make me to hear joy and gladness,
         Let the bones which You have broken rejoice. 
    9Hide Your face from my sins
         And blot out all my iniquities. 
    10Create in me a clean heart, O God,
         And renew a steadfast spirit within me. 
    11Do not cast me away from Your presence
         And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. 
    12Restore to me the joy of Your salvation
         And sustain me with a willing spirit. 
    13Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
         And sinners will be converted to You. 
    14Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, the God of my salvation;
         Then my tongue will joyfully sing of Your righteousness. 
    15O Lord, open my lips,
         That my mouth may declare Your praise. 
    16For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it;
         You are not pleased with burnt offering. 
    17The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
         A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise. 
    18By Your favor do good to Zion;
         Build the walls of Jerusalem. 
    19Then You will delight in righteous sacrifices,
         In burnt offering and whole burnt offering;
         Then young bulls will be offered on Your altar.

The Promise of A New Moleskine

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In my hands I hold 240 blank pages, neatly folded and bound anxiously waiting for ideas and ink. Jesus I commit all of these pages to you and your kingdom. I hope that it will be filled with your words, teaching, commands and rebukes. 

Jesus teach me how to meander with you in these pages. Give me aid. Help me to memorize and gain understanding and wisdom so that I may act out your teaching. Give me the grace to fill these empty pages as well as my empty days, not yet written, with you.

The promise of a new moleskine is a great thing because you are present when I sit and journal.

Keep me! Please don’t abandon me for a second. My soul cannot go it alone.

Be the Promise. Help me keep mine.

your student,

Jon

G.K. Chesterton

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I was reading a book last night and came across this great story about G.K. Chesterton. I thought some folks might find it funny. G.K. was known for his humor and wit. He was very influential in the life of C.S. Lewis. 

When a newspaper posed the question, What’s Wrong With The World? The catholic thinker G.K Chesterton reputedly wrote a brief letter in response:

 

Dir Sirs,

 

I am.

 

Sincerely Yours,
G.K. Chesterton

Incarnation: Poem & Prose

Listen to two great writers on the incarnation of Jesus into our bodies. The first is a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins and the second is an insightful illustration from C.S. Lewis. Maybe this will help us keep the incarnation front and center this Christmas season.

ORATIO PATRIS CONDREN: O JESU VIVENS IN MARIA

Jesu that dost in Mary dwell,
Be in thy servants’ hearts as well,
In the spirit of thy holiness,
In the fulness of thy force and stress,
In the very ways that thy life goes
And virtues that thy pattern shows,
In the sharing of thy mysteries;
And every power in us that is
Against thy power put under feet
In the Holy Ghost the Paraclete
To the glory of the Father. Amen.

Gerard Maley Hopkins, Mortal Beauty and God’s Grace. Pg. 7.

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right, and stopping the leaks in the roof, and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing and you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably, and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to?

The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of– throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”

–C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (London: William Collins, 1970), 172.