This week we have a special mini-series of guest bloggers sharing lessons they have learned on their faith journey.
Today on the blog we welcome, Chris Smith, Pastor of Worship sharing 4 things he has learned on his journey of following Jesus.
We hope you will be inspired from this week’s series of blogs.
- Jesus is the Source of Life and the Catalyst for Praise
I have been following Jesus for most of my life and I find him to be the most fascinating, compelling, and awe-inspiring person one could ever know. As a worship pastor, I find myself constantly responding to Jesus through praise and adoration, wonder and awe, and yes, at times, holy fear and trembling. In worshiping Christ through song I am especially aware of his love, goodness, and mercy and am often moved to tears.I also identify with the disciples on the boat who had witnessed Jesus calm the storm and both trembled and marveled at his power and authority (Matthew 8:27; Mark 4:41). I have learned that I need to be freshly connected to the life of Jesus, to be in awe of him, if I am to grow spiritually and be life-giving to those around me.
- Dying to Self is a Lifelong Process
Jesus told his followers that “whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Mark 8:34). In other words, following Jesus means dying to one’s own agenda and embracing God’s instead. As a Christ follower, I have found that dying to self is a day-in, day-out, lifelong process.Back in my college days, I read Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s The Cost of Discipleship and found Bonhoeffer’s words both compelling and challenging. At that point, as a single guy, life largely revolved around my schedule, preferences, and desires. I understood that following Christ meant dying to self, but it was more theoretical than actual.
In the years to come, I got married, had children, and entered full-time ministry. At each point, God used these life events to reveal how deeply ingrained my self-preoccupation was – and can still be. Jesus continues to lovingly but firmly challenge me to love him and those he loves more than myself.
- Jesus Meets You in Your Suffering and Pain
We all deal with suffering and heartache, and in those moments we may be tempted to believe that God is absent or that we’ve been abandoned. Several years ago I was diagnosed with testicular cancer and underwent surgery and radiation. Although it was a highly treatable form of cancer, there was still the fear of the unknown and the sobering reality that life can be significantly interrupted at any given moment.In the wake of the diagnosis I found myself embracing and leaning into the words of Jesus in John 16:33: “In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Jesus not only meets us in our suffering and heartache, but he himself experienced suffering and became our ransom to show how deeply his Father is concerned with our situation – both our pain and the bondage of sin.
- There Are No “Lone Ranger” Christians
I’m not sure who came up with the phrase lone ranger Christian, but in my Christian life I have found that term to be an oxymoron indeed. None of us were designed to do life alone, and yet at an early age I realized that my default mode is to be guarded and to retreat from community.When I entered ministry, I was forced to become more extroverted, but I also discovered the beauty of doing life together (to borrow another phrase from Bonhoeffer) with fellow Christ followers. I learned to become more vulnerable and experienced spiritual growth as I was challenged, encouraged, confronted, and loved by brothers and sisters in Christ.Jesus modeled fellowship with his disciples and instructed them to love and serve one another. Paul encourages us to carry each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2). I have profoundly experienced God’s presence and been changed in the context of Christian fellowship.