Monday, March 23, 2009

In Love with Jesus

About a month ago, a friend of mine asked me to read a section of a book, "Getting Fired for the Glory of God" It'a a collection of articles by Mike Yaconelli. When I read it, sections of it instantly brought me to tears. So, my friend (being a jerk) went out and bought the book for me.

I finally got it from him yesterday, and I haven't been able to put it down. I've re-read the intro 2x now... and am about halfway through all the articles. I wanted to share something with ya'all, and then talk a bit about how it makes me feel.

This is the introduction, written by Mark Yaconelli (Mike's son). He talks about his dad, and why they put together this book of articles after his death.

"Before you engage in any of this marerial, however, the first thing you should keep in mind is that Dad loved Jesus. I know all of us within the Christian faith are supposed to love Jesus. Many of us who work in the church try to love Jesus and help others love Jesus. But often a more accurate statement is that we believe in Jesus, we have faith in Jesus, we struggle to follow Jesus. Sometime after Dad turned 50, a transformation took place in his life. He went from believing in, admiring, and following Jesus to just plain loving Jesus.

"For his family, those of us most intimate with him, Dad's love for Jesus was often disarming. You might be standing in his kitchen drinking coffee (with potatoes and peppers cooking on the stove), and Dad would start talking about a project he was working on or an insight for a sermon he was preparing. The tone would be light and informal; then all of a sudden, he'd mention the name of Jesus, and his voicewould catch. At first you'd stop to see if he was ok, or if he needed something. Then you'd notice his eyes were wet, and he'd look at you kind of helplessly and shake his head for a moment as he tried to hold back the tears. It was then that you remembered: He really loves Jesus."

Even now, as I type this, I can feel my eyes start to get wet. I begin to wonder why is it that this particular story hits me the way that it does. And, I realize that it has a lot to do with how I wish I could love Jesus. I want to love him so much that it causes me to emotionally react when I hear his name, or I mention him in passing. What if we all loved Jesus that much? The kind of first love that gets so embedded in us that we cannot help but to hold up our hands, turn our heads and swallow a lump in our throat at the mere mention of Christ's name?

Being caught up in ministry can sometimes make us forget the simple reason as to why we do what we do. It pushes us, and instead of leaning on Jesus' strength, we fall back to our own gifts & understanding. A few chapters in, Mike Yaconelli talks in his article, "Where's Jesus?" about a meeting he was attending, where they were going over strategy to outreach to adolescents. They were discussing goals, technology, programs & the such, and they were asked to respond.

"I started to speak, but the words caught in my throat. My tears ambushed me, and I was unable to respond. Taken by surprise, I wondered what my tears were about. Instantly I saw the following mental picture: A man was leaning against the wall a few feet from us. He seemed lonely and sad, like a wallflower at a dance. One look at his eyes, and I could tell he desperately wanted us to notice him, to pay attention to him, to talk to him-but we just went on with our business and ignored him.

"That man was Jesus, of course. There he stood in the midst of our long conversation about strategies, programs, and target markets, and we didn't even notice the very reason why we have these meetings in the first place!"

Today, I think I am going to spend some time away from the business of work... and focus in on the business of being with my first love, my beloved, my Jesus.

-Jonathan Liu, CSM Los Angeles Scheduler

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