The Jesus Experiment…
When it comes to being more like Christ, I tend to get overwhelmed at where to begin. I mean, come on!!! The ONLY person to live a PERFECT life is a big expectation to live up to. As a sinful human being, I can only hope to achieve a fraction of what Jesus accomplished in His limited physical ministry here.
I lead a Men’s Bible Study every Monday morning at a local (greasy spoon) restaurant. It truly is a blessing to have such men of faith allow me to be their teacher. In addition to that, I am approximately 30 years younger than the average age of the group – very humbling to me BTW. As our group grows together, we tend to look for ways to challenge and hold each other accountable to not only the group, but to God. Looking at different resources has been one of the biggest chores for me. Don’t get me wrong, I love finding new and innovative ways to teach even the oldest person in the group. What I find most challenging is finding what God would have me teach…not what I think would be cool to teach.
That’s when we stumbled onto the “Jesus Experiment” by Bill Perkins. Bill came to speak at our church in the Spring of 2011 and I was encouraged by his transparency of how he wore Christianity. He not only talked about being a Christian…he lived it and the laundry list of his publishing’s had verified who this man of God truly was.
As part of this Jesus Experiment, I’ve decided to blog about it as I go. Here is a quote that really stuck with me that’s worth sharing – “A person will continue down a path of destructive behavior until the pain of continuing exceeds the pain of changing.” We all fear change! However, if the pain of not changing exceeds our complacency (or destructive behavior), our world view and how we function within it will be altered in an ungodly way. My prayer and hope for this Jesus Experiment is to be more like the Man Himself, Jesus Christ. Feel free to journey with me and others along this exciting path of the Master!
Posted in: Books
such a cool picture, dan.
We have now completed “Week Two – Abiding in Christ” of the Jesus Experiment and it has been a great adventure thus far. I have all the confidence in the world that we will appreciate this process as we understand it more and follow its steps as it becomes part of our spiritual DNA. I would also like to thank the author, Bill Perkins for walking with us along this journey and giving more clarity when we get lost in our own understanding.
If you are curious about the Jesus Experiment, click on the above link in the main post or go to the Facebook Group (The Jesus Experiment – Can His Promise of Abundant Life Be Proven?) to add your thoughts…that is if you’ve read or are reading the book currently 🙂
The most helpful part we found in this chapter (aside from the three essential steps) was the analogy of the vine and the branches. We are the branches and are asked to produce fruit as long as we stay connected to the Vine (Christ). This was in reference to John 15:5. I love how Jesus always talked in metaphors to us because we couldn’t see the obvious about ourselves and our insecurities. He has to talk to us as if we are an outsider looking in on someone’s messed up life….which happens to be ours. By the grace and mercy of God, we will get what He’s telling us!!!
Well, less than 24 hours away from week four…I guess I should touch base a little on week three…a very thought provoking week I might add. Our men’s group wrestled with this a little bit. We took a lot of different concepts away. Let me share some of them here. Since this week’s primarily focused on prayer (more specifically, Jesus’ prayer life), the first item of business is “Private Prayer”. This is an all too unfamiliar territory for many Christians. How many of us actually (if we’re honest with ourselves) go and pray in a quiet and secluded place? If we do, how focused are we?
Here are some simple and helpful steps to better your prayer life: (taken directly from the J.E.)
1. Buy a journal and jot down topics to guide your thoughts as you pray.
2. Identify a time and place to meet alone with God. Start with an amount of time you know you can easily maintain – maybe five or ten minutes a day.
3. Throughout the day, as you feel positive or negative emotions toward prayer, ask yourself what thinking triggered the emotion. Ask yourself what Jesus would have felt in that same situation. Take a moment and tell God you want to acknowledge your need for him and ask him to enable you to feel, think, speak, and act in private as Jesus did.
As we look at our lives and compare them to Jesus’ life, we will quickly see that we are no where near Jesus’ discipline of prayer with His Father. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t give it all we got. By God’s grace, we can achieve great and marvelous things for His names’ sake!!!
Week Four – “He Faced His Fears”
Fear. This all too familiar topic is something that each human being deals with on a regular basis. I would dare say we sometimes look for it. When I was growing up, you would see scary movies hit the Box Office during Halloween, but not really any other time throughout the year. Nowadays, it is uncommon to not have at least one scary movie come out each quarter. How many “Saw” movies are there now? Of course, the Jesus Experiment isn’t talking about this type of fear.
The Jesus Experiment focuses on a healthy “fear of the Lord” [Psalm 111:10], not an unhealthy desire to watch a scary movie. “Because fear enables us to successfully avoid or engage danger, it’s essential we learn how to deal with it as Jesus did” [Bill Perkins]. When Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane, He took 3 of His closest friends (Peter, James, and John) to accompany Him during this heavy trial. Jesus knew that the will of His Father was about to be completed. Jesus asked His disciples to stay close and watch while He went to pray. Not once, not twice, but three times they fell asleep. Jesus expressed His fear and despair to the Father, asking for “this cup to pass”, but also knowing that God’s will was already set in motion. Not only did Jesus weep under the pressure of carrying the sins of all mankind on His shoulders, but He bled from His pores under the physical pressure of knowing what was to come.
At this point, I would have more than likely jumped ship. Only Jesus can offer what He did so perfectly. No one and I mean, no one can do what Jesus did on the cross! For this reason, we should thank, praise, fear, and adore Him for such a sacrifice. We have a lot to learn from Jesus’ example – “Not my will, but yours be done.”
“Think of a situation where you tend to be fearful when you’re self-reliant and acting independently of God. Indicate the intensity of your fear of the situations below on a scale from 1-10, with 10 being the highest level of fear.
– Failing a test
– Losing a job
– Loss of a loved one
– Personal injury
– Public humiliation
– Other (be specific)”
There are many ways we can be self-reliant and they all lead to the same conclusion…whoops!!! However, when fear starts to creep into our minds we can take the words of Jesus to heart, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done” [Luke 22:42].
Week 5 – “He Overcame Evil”
What wilderness are you in? Where are you being tempted? And how do you overcome those desires that you know deep down will destroy you? This chapter explains how Jesus faced everything that we face and more. His resolve is a testament to us as to how we can defeat each attempt of the devil as he bates us into buying his evil lies.
Abiding in the Lord is an ongoing theme that we must not ever forget. Once we go in another direction, we tend to find sorrow and pain. “Truth is, we’re wired from birth to seek gratification apart from God. We partner, sometimes unwittingly, with evil spiritual forces that use temptation as a magnet, pulling the iron of our base appetites to the surface of our minds, urging us to act without God.” What are you doing, right now, that you are acting on without God? Is it something that you think is good? Is it something that you don’t want anyone else to know?
“Though the devil doesn’t possess divine attributes, he has a massive army of fallen angels, or demons, who carry out his plans (Revelation 12:4). Such truth might be unnerving if the evil one and his cohorts could read our minds, but they can’t. At least the Bible doesn’t say they possess such powers. With millenniums of observation and experience, though, they don’t need to mind read. As The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis illustrates, demons know human weakness and how to trip us up.” This is a great read if you like to do that sort of thing 🙂
So where do we go from here? What did Jesus say and do while He was in the wilderness for 40 days (Matt. 4:1-11)? Here are some simple steps to think about while you are being tempted. This should help with your following response to that temptation in every situation.
1. Preoccupation – When we aren’t focused on things of God, we tend to get preoccupied and that’s when our mind starts to wander into those evil places they shouldn’t go. What’s preoccupying your mind right now and how are you responding to that temptation?
2. Ritualization – Once we’ve bought the lie of the devil and acted apart from God, we tend to turn things into rituals pretty easily. My children are a prime example of good and bad rituals. This cycle can easily be triggered by something harmless, a smell, an image, a particular sound and much more. What are some unhealthy rituals you engage in on a daily/weekly basis?
3. Acting Out and Shame – Breaking the cycle before it reaches this stage is critical. “We commit the act and then feel guilty about it – that is, until the next time we’re tempted to repeat the cycle.” The more we abide in Christ and study and trust His Word, the more we will be able to resist this series of unfortunate events. Apart from Him though, we are doomed to repeat this process over and over again.
I don’t know about you, but this is not a road I intend to go down willingly!