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Monday, January 26, 2015

GUEST POST - Rick Lawrence - Jesus Wants Your Skin In the Game

There He is again, playing a game of verbal “Battleship” with the Pharisees in the temple court—they take a shot at him, and he fires right back. Jesus has, once again, so grossly offended the teachers of the law that they intend to stone him to death… Typical of His in-your-face style with the teachers of the law, He’s just pulled the pin on this little grenade: “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him” (John 8:44).
John records what happens next with elegant simplicity: “Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple.” If an angry mob picked up stones, intending to kill you, “hiding yourself” would require a) Harry Potter’s “cloak of invisibility” or b) fast feet. John leaves out the details. This is all merely the prequel to a bigger drama that’s about to unfold…
Likely breathless from his escape, Jesus runs across a man who is blind from birth (John 9). When the disciples catch up, they ask a question that’s quintessentially human: “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?” They want to know why bad things happen to good people—a conundrum that’s fundamental to our life in a broken culture.
It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents,” Jesus replies, “but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” Then, without permission or hesitation—or, it has to be said, apparent rationality—the Master spits on the ground, fashions a little clay, then smears it all over the man’s eyes and face.
As shocking as all of this must have been for a blind man who’s suddenly been sucked into a big moment, the next words out of Jesus’ mouth must have seemed no less astonishing: “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (John 9:1–7). The pool is on the other side of town, a long trek away. And this man has just been told to walk there on his own. Still blind, his eyes smeared with spit and mud, he’s supposed to find his way to a specific pool where he can wash his face. If he can find the place…
What’s the point?
Why would Jesus ask this man to do something that will so obviously require him to take a great risk?
Why, when He has healed multitudes with a simple touch, does Jesus ask the man to jump through hoops in order to find his freedom?
It makes no sense—unless Jesus wants the man to put his skin in the game.
Risk, Jesus says, is our primary language for communicating the great works of God. And when the man offers his skin in the game, he’s really setting the stage for God to be known and worshiped.
The blind man is used to poor treatment, and getting clay smeared on his eyes smacks of same-old, same-old. So why should he obey Jesus’ bizarre instructions, after an equally bizarre and inexplicable act of apparent disrespect? We don’t know the calculus going on inside the man’s head, but we do know his response. He accepts Jesus’ challenge and finds his way to the pool of Siloam, where he washes the clay from his eyes—and then runs back through town to declare the impossible: He can see! For the first time in his life, he can see!
We may not like the hard edge of risk, but Jesus requires it of those who would wash away their blindness. And so, we must consider the dimensions of the man’s risk, and our own, because our courage is proportionate to its impediments. Like the man born blind, we’ve heard an Accuser’s voice our whole life, planting lies in our soul.
On a men’s retreat a couple of years ago, my friend Bob Krulish asked a group of sixty gathered in a mountain auditorium to answer this simple question: “What’s one lie you are right now believing about yourself?” Here’s a sampler of their anonymous responses:
I’m not really desired by my wife
I’m not enough (listed multiple times).
I always feel like a failure.
If you really knew me, you’d reject me (listed multiple times).
I’m not worthy or capable of success.
I’m invisible.
I’m inadequate.
My life isn’t worth much or special.
I’m dirty.
I’m a loser.
I can’t do it.
I don’t have what it takes
I can do it all by myself—don’t need others.
There is something wrong with me.
What about the man born blind, with mud smeared on his beaten and weathered face? His own interior collection of lies may well be legion—a toxic stew of the entire bulleted list. But he chooses to risk anyway, stumbling his way through town, past the averted eyes of others, all the way to Siloam and a miracle that exceeds his deepest hopes. For the man is about to gain more than his eyesight alone. His newfound vision will turn the tables of his entire life. Before, he was defined by what he needed, but henceforth, he will be defined by what he gives.

This blog is adapted from the just-released book Skin In the Game: Living an Epic Jesus-Centered Life.
- For a free excerpt of the book, go here:
-  To connect with Rick Lawrence, go here…
Web Site:
Twitter: @RickSkip

Rick Lawrence is an author, ministry leader, and the longtime executive editor of GROUP Magazine, the world’s leading resource for the “Navy SEALS” of ministry—youth workers. He’s the general editor for The Jesus-Centered Life Bible (Fall 2015), and he’s the author or co-author of 37 books, including his newest, Skin In the Game: Living an Epic Jesus-Centered Life (Kregel).

Thursday, January 01, 2015

happy NEW year

happy NEW year!

"And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.”"

Revelation 21:5 (NLT)

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

See ya 2014...

2014 hasn't been my favorite year.

In fact, if I were pressed to make a decision, I would say that it has been my hardest year.  That isn't to say that it hasn't had its moments.

(I thoroughly enjoyed speaking a couple of weeks of camp... haven't done that in a while but would like to do more often.  Myles has been so much fun this year... he is learning and growing so much and I've had a lot of extra time with him.  I learned a lot about myself this year... what I can handle...)  

But, the past is the past and that's a story best left for a cup of coffee.

2014 did end well, however.  I was (semi) surprised by a going away party Monday night.  (I had some suspicions... but wasn't 100% until about an hour beforehand.)  It was a great evening.  I took the above picture about 2/3 of the way through the party after a few folks had left.  It was a great opportunity to get together with some great folks and students and laugh, hang out and tell stories.

Rarely in ministry do you get a chance to sit in a room full of the "fruit" of ministry.  That was what Monday night was for me.  The room was filled with friends.  Students who were/are leaders in the youth ministry.  Students who were leaders and have graduated and are doing amazing leading in college.  Volunteer leaders who are committed to reaching the next generation of students for Jesus.  Folks who have supported and encouraged our ministry.  It was a blast.

I felt honored.

I felt honored because my wife put it together for me (it was way outside of her comfort zone to do that).  But I also felt honored because those who were there were there because they wanted to spend time with us before the next chapter of our ministry journey unfolds (Saturday).

It was a great night.

So tonight... for me... I will be the happiest person at 12:01 am on 1/1/15.  It will be so-long to a less-than enjoyable year.  And hello to a new bright New Year.  I can't wait to see what is just around the bend!


Monday, December 22, 2014

An Open Door and Changes

God has a way of opening doors.  We have been watching and waiting for God to open a door to what is next for us and God has done so.

We are proud and excited to join the Christian Fellowship Church team as their new High School Pastor.

The turn around time is pretty short since there isn't any reason for me to wait.  I start there in less than 2 weeks (January 4th).  I'm excited!  I can't wait to get started ministering to high school students in Ashburn, Virginia area.

We are currently working to sell our house in Zanesville to pave the way for us to all move to Ashburn.  So, if you are into prayer, you can pray for God to bring the right buyer to us.  Transitions are difficult but the excitement over this new opportunity is making it easier.

We are looking forward to what God will do in the future.  And we are very excited to join the CFC youth ministry and church team!

More to come (hopefully I'll get back into regular blogging in the New Year),


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Acts 16:6-10

Acts 16:6-10New International Version (NIV)

Paul’s Vision of the Man of Macedonia

Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. 
So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Oceans - Hillsong United

Matthew 14:28-29aNew International Version (NIV)

28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
29 “Come,” he said.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Psalm 103

Psalm 103

Of David.

Praise the Lord, my soul;
    all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
    and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
    and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
The Lord works righteousness
    and justice for all the oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses,
    his deeds to the people of Israel:
The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
    slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse,
    nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
    or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
    so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
13 As a father has compassion on his children,
    so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
14 for he knows how we are formed,
    he remembers that we are dust.
15 The life of mortals is like grass,
    they flourish like a flower of the field;
16 the wind blows over it and it is gone,
    and its place remembers it no more.
17 But from everlasting to everlasting
    the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
    and his righteousness with their children’s children
18 with those who keep his covenant
    and remember to obey his precepts.
19 The Lord has established his throne in heaven,
    and his kingdom rules over all.
20 Praise the Lord, you his angels,
    you mighty ones who do his bidding,
    who obey his word.
21 Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts,
    you his servants who do his will.
22 Praise the Lord, all his works
    everywhere in his dominion.
Praise the Lord, my soul.