Jonathan Bailey's Blog

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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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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 

A Lesson From Albert Schweitzer

schweitzer

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!”

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

 

 

Commune Together

“Flee the company of worldly-living persons as much as you can. for the treating of worldly matters greatly hinders the fervor of spirit, even though it be done with a good intention. We are soon deceived by the vanity of the world and in a manner are made a slave to it, unless we take good heed…[We need a brotherhood or sisterhood] a devout communing on spiritual things sometimes greatly helps the health of the soul, especially when men of one mind and spirit in God meet and speak and commune together.”

The Imitation of Christ

Thomas A Kempis

Pg. 41

The With-God Life

 

“The With-God kind of life that we see in the Bible is the very life to which we are called…It is a life of unhurried peace and power. It is solid. It is serene. It is simple. It is radiant. It takes no time, though it permeates all of our time.

But such a life does not simply fall into our hands. Frankly, it is no more automatic for us than it was for those luminaries who walk across the pages of our Bible. There is a God-ordained means to becoming the kind of persons and the kind of communities that can fully and joyfully enter into such abundant living.”

Richard Foster

Life With God

Pg. 13

 

Why I Love Jesus.

Because he rescued me from me.

 

Forever Grateful,

me

To Change the World Change the Rules

Oportunity International

Oportunity International

 

Josh introduced me to this organization on Thursday and I thought I would do the same for you. OptINnow.org is a website that has partnered with Opportunity International to bring poor hardworking entrepreneurs and you together for an amazing purpose. What they are doing is called micro-finance. What that means is you will find someone who needs $250 to buy a scooter that will enable him/her to deliver more pastries and thus make more money. With this simple loan this poor family has a chance to break the cycle of poverty they have been living in for their entire life. 

 

In general poorer people in developing countries have no access to loans through an established bank, but only through a local ‘loan shark.’ When they borrow from a loan shark this person ends up charging them an enormous interest rate and therefore whatever profits they were hoping to make from this investment is devoured by the loan shark. So it just creates a big cycle of poverty for people who are actually working hard.

 

The cool thing about the entire site is, when you loan the money, they are responsible for paying it back with interest. This may seem wrong, but it isn’t. These people aren’t looking for hand out, they are looking for a way out and micro-finance accomplishes that for them. 98% of all micro-finance loans are paid back! Why? Because for these entrepreneurs this is their one chance to break the cycle of poverty. Once the loan is paid back, Opportunity International turns around and invests that loan into another business person! Now we have a cycle of hope, instead of a cycle of poverty.

 

To Change the World Change the Rules.  I hope you will consider being a part of OptINnow.org. 

 

Seek the Kingdom,

Jon

Diligence

“But the precious possession of a man is diligence.”

Proverbs 12.27b

I am reading through the book of Proverbs and there is so much wisdom inside. I keep asking Jesus to give me wisdom, give me understanding! But one thing I am realizing is He gives it to us like a farmer gets a harvest, not like a boy gets a bike for Christmas.

Disciples of Jesus should be diligent. Things of value are marked by diligence. Are we diligent when it comes to seeking the kingdom, following Jesus or treasuring Jesus above all possessions?

Diligence: careful and persistent work or effort

Precious: an object, substance, or resource of great value; not to be wasted or treated carelessly. 

Instead of praying for wisdom I think we should pray for diligence. “Jesus make me diligent! You are precious to me!” We should cultivate it as best we can and allow Jesus to force the fruits and vegetables out of our fallow ground. Diligence is of great value because it leads us to our greatest value, Jesus. We should never think diligence is unimportant; it should never be wasted or treated carelessly. As we become diligent then and only then do we become wise.

“I would not work my soul to save
For that the Lord hath done.
But I would work like any slave
For the love of God’s dear son.”

 (author unknown)

Proverbs 11

Proverbs 11.24
“there is one who scatters, and yet increases all the more. And there is one who withholds what is justly due, and yet it only results in want. ”

Jesus, make me into a man who scatters. Don’t let me withhold what is due to me. Transform my wicked heart into a heart of righteousness.

My favorite part of this entire passage is the end when the proverb say, “what is justly due.” You earned it fair and square. It’s yours.

If we think we can keep something just because we earned it fairly, we need to rethink our thinking. Give what you earn. Be someone who scatters almost recklessly! Not so you can get. But because it’s a better way to live and Jesus said so. “It is better to give than receive.”

Seek the Kingdom,
Jon

Book Review: Life of the Beloved

 

* * *

Life of the Beloved
Henri Nouwen 

Henri Nouwen is one of those authors, who is more than just an author. He is down-to-earth, practical and wise. in the last decade of his life he lived on campus and aided a group of mentally handicapped people. There he served those people who could not dress, bathe, eat, or speak. I really respect his willingness to serve. I imagine I have a lot to learn from someone like him. So, with all of his experience and service I have found it a good idea to read Nouwen every couple of months. Zach Silvers let me borrow ‘Life of the Beloved’ and so I say a special thanks to him.

Life of the beloved is written to a secular audience to enable them to understand the love of God. It has some great practical exercises for those looking for better ways of coming to terms with being beloved by God. Some things I enjoyed were his sincere effort to relate to his friend Fred who was a secular journalist. His motives were good, however I didn’t think he stayed true to explaining and teaching Jesus and letting the chips fall where they may.

Also, there was a lot therapy/psychology in the book it seemed to me. Obviously therapy and psychology are good things I just don’t think we should mix it with Jesus and the New Testament. In Nouwen’s defense he is coming from a context of immense therapy in the community he lived in, so it seems natural to him to let the good that has come from it, filter into his message of being the beloved of God.

I would recommend the book to people who need a dose of love and practicality, with a few warnings. Mainly some of his ideas about human nature seem to me unbiblical. So watch out there. If you read it you will see what I mean. Overall I like Nouwen and have been helped by his writing.

 

Solitude & St. Francis

I am currently reading ‘Life of the Beloved’ by Henri Nouwen and I am enjoying the practical examples he gives in his pursuit of following Jesus. Let me share it with you now.

“Learn a sacred text by heart and repeat it slowly in the mind, word by word, sentence by sentence.” 

Carve out 30 minutes his week and find a quiet/alone place and repeat in your mind the prayer of St. Francis. It is an amazing prayer and you probably will recognize it when you read it. Jot it down in your journal or on a note card and carry it with you to your solitary place. 

Now as you sit there, just slowly read the prayer, don’t try to memorize it. Just think about every word and what it would mean in our lives if we were transformed into this. Below is the prayer (courtesy of wikipedia).

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
Amen.

Life with God: Celebrating Lifelong Discipleship

We have an amazing opportunity to hear Dallas Willard, Richard Foster, John Ortberg and Ron Sider.  This is going to be a great conference with an intimate setting, plus its in Houston!  I wanted to get a count of who would like to be included in the conference. We get a $10 discount for early registration if we have +5 persons.  

RENOVARÉ Life With God Conference
A Gathering to Mark the 30th Anniversary
of Celebration of Discipline

October 2-4, 2008
Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church
Houston, Texas

CONFERENCE DETAILS
– Group Registration (5+ registering at the same time)
– Price: $89.00
-For a cost of $15 per person, we will attend the Thursday night Roast and Dessert for Richard Foster
– For more information, please contact Lyle SmithGraybeal at 303-792-0152, x 122, or lyle@renovare.org .

Featuring
Richard J. Foster • John Ortberg • Ron Sider
Chris Webb • Dallas Willard • Lauren Winner

Workshops Led By
Justin Campbell • James Catford
Anne Grizzle & Martha Moore • Todd Hunter
Gary Moon • Dave Peterson • Juanita Rasmus
Chris Seay • Robert Sloan • Chris Webb

“The word ‘DISCIPLE’ occurs 269 times in the New Testament. ‘Christian’ is found three times and was first introduced to refer precisely to disciples of Jesus. . . . The New Testament is a book about disciples, by disciples, and for disciples of Jesus Christ. But the point is not merely verbal. What is more important is that the kind of life we see in the earliest church is that of a special type of person. All of the assurances and benefits offered to humankind in the gospel evidently presuppose such a life and do not make realistic sense apart from it.”

— Dallas Willard, The Great Omission