2 Haiti 4 Him

The Heckman family serving the Lord in Haiti at Emmaus Biblical Seminary

Thursday, April 4, 2013

"Better Off without Jesus"

We recently attended the Simply Youth Ministry Conference in Indianapolis, a conference that Phil and I have been going to each year since it started 7 years ago.  I LOVE this conference!  It is a place I return to every year because it combines ministry training, spiritual renewing, networking and connecting, growing in my walk with the Lord, and so much more!

This year, Phil and I attended a seminar on the last day of the conference that would leave a lasting impact on my life (and on his).  We actually went to the seminar because the title was both intriguing and stomach turning at the same time.  It was called “Better Off without Jesus”.  It sounded like the exact opposite of so many other seminars we have attended (like Jesus Centered Youth Ministry for example!).  We ended up attending it because I knew the speaker (I had taken an awesome 8 hour track with him a few years back!) and because I just had to know where he was going and what this was all about.

Once we sat down and he began to speak I understood exactly what this seminar was going to be about.  The title and the topic on which he based his seminar came from John 16:7. As Jesus is spending his last moments with his disciples before He is crucified, He shares these words with them: 

 “…I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you.  But if I go, I will send him to you”.   

 In other words, He told the disciples that they would be better off without Him!  

Chuck Bomar, the seminar speaker, had summed up- in those two hours- the content of his recent book by the same name.  I want to give you some highlights from this book that have been very powerful in my life in recent days.  Although much of what he says I have known from being raised in the church and even leading Bible studies on the Holy Spirit, the way in which he presents the information is what has left a lasting mark. 
We truly are “better off without Jesus” and here is what that means for us (below are excerpts from Chuck’s book- his words are in italics... the bold print was added on my part, as emphasis):

I find that most of us, when we think about it, truly believe that we would be better off with Jesus by our side.  We desperately want to do what God wants; we want to be where He wants us to be, and we tirelessly pursue this clarity. We want God to speak, and we want Him to do so in ways that are undoubtedly Him… We want full assurance.

We ask God to guide us through all sorts of circumstances and even in some of the most monotonous situations.

           ·          What college do I go to?
           ·          What school do I send my child to?...
           ·          Which house do I buy… and where?
           ·          Which job does God want me to have?
           ·          I have pure motives; so I don’t understand why God isn’t __________________ (you finish the sentence)

These are all examples of situations in which we genuinely want to be in tune with God.  And, again, many of us think we would be better off with Jesus right by our side.  We like the idea of being able to ask Him questions about our lives whenever we want to.  It’s comforting and physical and immediate.

And yet, this is where we need to take our first full step back and honestly examine the reasons why we think this way.

The reality is that we assume it would be best for Jesus to be physically beside us because we are focused on ourselves.  Unfortunately, it’s usually at the expense of keeping in mind all that God is also doing in the lives of other people, and around the world…

His words that follow are what has remained with me and caused me to really examine my heart:

The culture we live in breeds individualism deep into the core of our being. We lose sight of others and become mostly concerned about ourselves, our questions, our families, our pursuits, our decisions, our responsibilities.  In fact, I’ve noticed that most people who have grown up and live in our Western culture don’t believe their lives can actually be focused on serving others.  They have too many things going on in their own lives.

This unawareness of how much our culture drives our thinking toward individualistic thoughts is perhaps the biggest hindrance to hearing God speak to us.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that focusing on myself actually muffles the voice of God right out of my life.

Our Western culture would lead us to embrace Jesus solely as a beneficial addition to OUR individual lives, goals and dreams. We think we need to invite Him to join every area of OUR lives.  But the truth is that He calls us to join in with HIS.

Understanding the difference is absolutely essential if you want to be in tune with God’s voice in your life.  If you want to hear God speak to you individually, you must begin thinking beyond yourself. 

I don’t know about you, but my spirit is convicted in these words. How many seconds, minutes, hours do I allow to go by without thinking of other people?  How often does my prayer life, my actions, my words reflect only my own desires, goals, dreams?  How emotionally detached am I from the suffering and hurts of others and how much does God want to use me in their lives if I would just listen? 

Am I missing out on hearing from Him because I have muffled “the voice of God right out of my life”?

This book has challenged, and continues to challenge, my thinking and my actions.  I don’t want to walk through this life, through a single day, and miss out on what God wants to say to me or do through me.

We are truly “Better Off without Jesus” when we are in step with the Spirit- listening to His still, small voice, utilizing the power, help and comfort that He can bring- and pouring our lives out for the people around us!  I believe that if we live like this, if we start thinking and living beyond ourselves, our lives- and most importantly- the lives of those around us, would never be the same!


(Chuck Bomar, author of Better Off without Jesus,  is the pastor of Colossae Church in Portland, Oregon and is the author of more than a dozen resources and five books. He has a website/blog where you can read more from/about him and also purchase this book and others that he has written-www.chuckbomar.com)

1 comment:

  1. WOW! Brutal, but oh so true!! I may need to borrow this book if someone has an extra copy. Love you (& Phil) for being so real and willing to get into the nitty gritty. That's right where He'll meet us! <3