Is Our Faith Too Small?

This is a guest post by Cory Johnson, Church Planting Resident at 121 Community Church, who is planting Austin Life Church in Austin, TX. You can reach him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. If you are interested in writing a post for us, visit our Guest Post page. You can also view other guest posts by clicking here.

Is Our Faith Too Small?

I was reading in John 6 today, a story I’ve heard, and I’m sure most have heard countless times – Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand.

But this time reading it, God spoke to me as if I were reading it for the fist time. (That’s the great thing about God and His Word. We will never exhaust all that we can know of Him. He’s just too great!)

In the story, there is a group of 5,000 men (women and children present, but not included in the count; typical for that time and day) who were following Jesus. Jesus then poses a question to Philip…

“Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?”

It’s a question many of us would ask. It’s a simple question of seeing a need and asking how to meet that need. In any sphere of life, we come across questions like this every day.

  • “How are we going to serve this many people?”
  • “How are we going to pay the bills this month?”
  • “How do we help this troubled teen?”
  • “How do we help restore this marriage?”
  • “How do we pay for college?”

The questions are as many as people in the world, and more.

Most of the time, I, and I imagine most people, seek to answer these questions as best as we know how. We try the logical approach, like Philip did – “With this many people, 200 denarii won’t even buy enough food.” We try being creative with the resources we already have, like Andrew did – “Well, we have 2 fish and 5 loaves to work with, but realistically, that’s a joke for this size of crowd.”

Most of the time, we try to answer our questions, our needs, in a way that makes sense to us, that we can come up with, that we can accomplish on our own strength and mental power.

The problem with that? The needs and questions we face each day are all too often much bigger than we can handle on our own.

The good news?

Back to Basics: Coveting

In this series, Back to Basics, it’s my hope to shed some insight about the freedom I found in Christ through some personal stories from my early years of wrestling with fear of Old Testament law.

Back to Basics: Coveting

In the early 80’s, as part of a diversity program, the Denver Independent School District bused kids from the suburbs of South Denver to urban North Denver for K-3rd grade, and reversed the route during 4th-6th grades.

After a couple years of watching buses load and unload South Denver kids in front our aged, red-bricked schoolhouse, it was time for me to get on the bus and head south to a modern school building for 4th grade.

For a kid traveling south on I-25 back in those days, it was a treat to see the mountains to the west each morning. That part of Denver belonged to everybody. But as we crossed over the Platte River, the contrast was clear.

We were in the land of the new, two-story houses with the neat lawns and the nicer cars. As the bus squealed into the school parking lot, you could see moms and dads walking kids to the entrance. There weren’t any liquor stores within walking distance. No gang graffiti was in sight. All looked good.

This was my first real look at life on the other side, and as I rode the bus each week, I began to covet that life.

From what I knew, coveting was a bad thing mentioned in the 10 Commandments and responsible for bringing banishment to Cain, trouble to Jacob, and heartbreak to King David. I didn’t want to covet, but as a kid, I didn’t know what to do with it.

I’d find that even though I’d move to a decent Texas suburb, attend college and get a good job upon graduating, coveting never took a vacation.

Unfortunately, it never will.

Type A Christianity

Type A Christianity

We all have our thorns, right? Some are more obvious than others. Some lead to tougher earthly circumstances than others. Some feel debilitating while some are just plain annoying. Nevertheless, they are unwelcome interruptions that hold the potential of affecting our relationship with the Lord and with those around us.

And one of the very unfortunate tendencies among believers is to play the comparison game, and I am just as guilty as the next guy. It happens in a number of ways, but I would like to focus on one particular avenue the enemy takes in order to cripple Christians when it comes to comparing our thorns.

Who can relate to this scenario?

You’re sitting in a Bible study, church service, or even a big worship event. The speaker or facilitator starts to share what they’re setting up as a deep, dark secret or huge confession. They proceed to spill the beans on this devastating stronghold they just HAD to get off their chest and you’re left sitting there dumbfounded thinking, “Seriously? That’s it? That’s the big, ugly, dark sin you’ve been carrying?”

Please tell me I’m not the only one with both hands in the air right now?

But it’s true, right? It feels a little bit like when a spoiled, rich kid starts complaining about having to settle for Gucci instead of Louboutin. “I mean, how do you even cope with life?”

So there you are, squirming in your seat because your wretchedness is glaring at you in the face harder than ever, and not just because you’re that much more aware of your “real” sin but because now you’ve also managed to trivialize the sin of another believer.

Scripture on Obedience

Scripture on Obedience

The Bible has a lot to say about obedience and it’s a big deal for followers of Jesus. While obedience to some people might just mean training their animals or raising their children, obedience to the follower of Jesus means bringing glory to God more than anything or anyone else.

If we claim to follow Jesus, but we are not obedient to what He teaches us in the Bible, that reveals a lot of things. It’s possible that we don’t really trust Jesus in those moments or at all and it’s also possible for us to mislead people the wrong way. People are watching and when they see followers of Jesus continue to not live out what the Bible teaches, that drives people farther and farther away from the Church.

The Good News is that even in our disobedience, we have someone who was perfectly obedient on our behalf. Jesus continues to forgive and has saved His followers for all eternity. Rest in the fact that you are forgiven today and seek to be obedient, one day at a time.

Here is what the Bible has to say with scripture on obedience:

Special Thanks to Our February Supporters

We appreciate and want to thank the supporters of Before The Cross this February. Not only do our supporters help make this site possible, but we are partnered together to glorify God by sharing the love of Christ!

Each supporter offers something unique in regards to ministry and we would like to encourage you to give them a look. If you have any questions, please let us know.

Supporters

  • YouVersion Bible App
    YouVersion is the Bible app with over 200 million installs on devices all around the world. They want to bring the Bible everywhere and make it available to anyone. They support Before The Cross with multiple reading plans on their app.

A Living Sacrifice

A Living Sacrifice

Followers of Christ are instructed in Romans 12:1, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.”

This is the only time in the Bible that the words living and sacrifice are used together. I’ve been a church-going, Bible-reading Christian for over 30 years now but only recently did these two words jump off the page at me in a way that awakened me to a fresh view of God’s grace and mercy.

What comes to mind when you hear or read the word sacrifice? For me, it’s death. Something must die, usually a pretty gruesome death, for a sacrifice to be complete and effective. When I study the Old Testament and all the sacrificial practices, I am overwhelmed with gratitude that we no longer have to go through the rituals they had to before Jesus. The smells, the sights, the sounds, all of it. I’m sure at a point the Israelites had grown almost numb to the process involved, but I can’t believe for one second that there wasn’t some level of emotional pain felt by those performing and watching the sacrifices take place. If for no other reason than they were keenly aware that this animal was brutally stripped of its life for their sake. That has to leave a mark.

Enter Jesus.

The man who left glory to come put up with humanity for a time – to walk in our shoes, breathe our air, break our bread, experience our joy, and endure our pain, only to be scorned, beaten, and killed. But His death and glorious resurrection turned the tables completely, didn’t it? It didn’t necessarily eradicate the need for sacrifices completely, but it did redefine what sacrifice would look like for the rest of time.

Hear me out.